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• Winner of The Kathleen Grattan Award for Poetry 2010
I am travelling away from my life, towards my life.
So begins Jennifer Compton’s new volume, winner of the 2010 Kathleen Grattan Award.
This City circles the globe from Florence to Palmerston North but the resulting volume is far more than so-called armchair travel. Topography and public space are a preoccupation (buses and trains, roads and houses, even Google Earth’s Street View all get a mention), but it is her evocation of the transient grounded in these spaces – snippets overheard on an Italian strada, scenes on a bus on Moxham Ave, imaginings of lives from long ago (Jane Austen, Emily Dickenson) – that leaves a taut and exciting impression of lives lived here, in this place, in This City.
Born in New Zealand, resident in Australia, with literary achievements in both countries, Jennifer Compton is a truly trans-Tasman writer. Two recent residencies in New Zealand, at the Randell Cottage in 2008 and as Visiting Literary Artist at Massey University in 2010, have enabled her to spend time in her home city of Wellington, find out new things about her homeland, examine her roots and reflect on life. Two previous residencies in Italy, at the Whiting Library Studio in Rome 2006 and the Ligurian Study Centre, Bogliasco 2007, produced another kind of reflection on time and place, leading Kathleen Grattan Award judge Vincent O'Sullivan to comment about this collection: 'It is a volume that sustains a questing, warmly sceptical mind's engagement with wherever it is, whatever it takes in, and carries the constant drive to say it right. This is a complete book of poetry, coherent, gathering its parts to arrive at a cast of mind, a distinctive voice, far more than simply adding one good poem to another.'
In-store: July 2011; Poetry, NZ Literature; Paperback, 64 pp ISBN 978 1 877578 10 6, NZ $30 / UK £13.99
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