New Shoots Poetry Prizes: the winners and highly commended

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CONGRATULATIONS to the winning and highly commended poets in New Shoots Poetry Prizes!

Rochford Street Review, The Red Room Company and the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney are proud to announce and congratulate the winning and highly commended poets for the New Shoots Poetry Prizes. Congratulations to New Shoots Poetry Prize 2016 winner, Stuart Cooke for ‘Fallen Myrtle Trunk’ and Magdalena Ball for the highly commended, ‘Anneslea fragrans’. Congratulations also go to the New Shoots Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Poetry Prize 2016 winner, John Karl Stokes for ‘Leaving Wilona’ and John Bennett for the highly commended, ‘our primitive lives’.

The four, award winning, plant inspired poems were published today, 1 December in the current issue 20, of Rochford Street Review and on The Red Room Company website. Interviews with the poets discussing their poems will be posted in the next few weeks.

Congratulations also go to one of poets shortlisted for the New Shoots Poetry Prize 2016, Mohammad Ali Maleki, whose poem, ‘Tears of Stone’ has been given, special commendation for extraordinary work in extreme circumstances and published in Rochford Street Review.

The prizes are a joint initiative of The Red Room Company, Rochford Street Review and the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney with the selection panel comprising of the Director of The Red Room Company, Tamryn Bennett and Associate Editor of Rochford Street Review, Zalehah Turner.

The New Shoots Poetry Prizes offered eco warriors to plant loving poets the chance to create poems around The Red Room Company’s plant inspired poetry project for 2016, New Shoots. All submissions will be included in an e-book anthology (forthcoming).

John Stokes, the winner of the New Shoots Royal, Botanic Garden, Sydney Poetry Prize 2016, wished to pass on his “thanks to the organisers and the judges; with a special thanks to [his] fellow writers for making this such a rich and interesting exercise.”

New Shoots Poetry Prize 2016
Winner: 
Stuart Cooke – ‘Fallen Myrtle Trunk
Highly Commended: Magdalena Ball – ‘Anneslea fragrans
*Special Commendation: Mohammad Ali Maleki – ‘Tears of Stone

New Shoots Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Poetry Prize 2016
Winner:
John Karl Stokes – ‘Leaving Wilona
Highly Commended: John Bennett – ‘our primitive lives

New Shoots Poetry Prize 2016

Winner:Fallen Myrtle Trunk’ by Stuart Cooke

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Stuart Cooke

Stuart Cooke lives on the Gold Coast, where he lectures in creative writing and literary studies at Griffith University. He has published collections of poetry, criticism and translation. His latest book, Opera was published by Five Islands Press in 2016. Stuart Cooke is the winner of the 2016 Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize.

 

 

Highly Commended: Anneslea fragrans’ by Magdalena Ball

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Magdalena Ball

Magdalena Ball is a novelist, poet, reviewer, interviewer, and the editor of Compulsive Reader. She has been widely published in literary journals, anthologies, and is the author of several books of poetry and fiction. Her most recent work includes, the novel, Black Cow (Bewrite Books), and the collection of poetry, Unmaking Atoms (forthcoming, Ginninderra Press).

 

 

 

*Special Commendation:Tears of Stone‘ by Mohammad Ali Maleki

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Mohammad Ali Maleki

Mohammad Ali Maleki is an Iranian poet and avid gardener living in detention on Manus Island whose poem, ‘Tears of Stone’ was shortlisted for the New Shoots Poetry Prize 2016. Mohammad Ali Maleki is the featured writer in current issue of Rochford Street Review. His poem, ‘The Strong Sunflower’ was originally published in Verity La’s Discoursing Diaspora project. Mohammad Ali Maleki’s poems are translated from Farsi by Mansoor Shoushtari and edited by Michelle Seminara and Melita Luck. Mohammad Ali Maleki’s poems are emotive tales of life in detention which often employ plants as metaphors. He also enjoys gardening and has planted a beautiful garden behind his room on Manus Island.

 

 

New Shoots Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Poetry Prize 2016

Winner: Leaving Wilnoa’ by John Stokes

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John Stokes

John Stokes is renowned internationally for his passionate campaign for plain-speaking in literature. He has won, been short-listed, or long-listed for many prizes including, longlisted for both the University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s and Montreal International Poetry Prizes in 2014 and 2015, respectively. His third book, Fire in the Afternoon was published in the Poets and Perspectives series by Halstead Press in 2014 and won the ATC Writing and Publishing Awards 2015 for best poetry book of the year.

 

N.B. The judges of the New Shoots Poetry Prizes were unaware that ‘Leaving Wilona’ by John Karl Stokes was previously published in ‘Fire in the Afternoon’ (Halstead Press, 2014) at the time of the selection and announcement.

Highly Commended:our primitive lives’ by John Bennett

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John Bennett

John Bennett has won the Mattara (now Newcastle) Prize and the David Tribe Prize and is represented in Puncher and Wattmann’s Contemporary Australian Anthology. A documentary on his work was broadcast by ABC Radio National’s Earshot in February 2016. His PhD updates a Defence of Poetry and he now melds poetry and image with Photovoltaic poetry.

 

 

*Special Commendation was an award that was created after the New Shoots Poetry Prizes submission guidelines were written

Selection panel: Dr Tamryn Bennet, Artistic Director of The Red Room Company and Zalehah Turner, Associate Editor of Rochford Street Review

Plant a seed of inspiration in your mind’s eye and let it grow into a poem.

Submissions to New Shoots Poetry Prizes have closed but the New Shoots online submission form remains open for plant-inspired poems. Poems submitted will be published on the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney website in 2017.

The winning and highly commended poems from the New Shoots Poetry Prizes can also be found on The Red Room Company‘s website.

-Zalehah Turner

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Zalehah Turner is a Sydney based critic, writer and poet currently completing her Bachelor of Arts in Communications majoring in writing and cultural studies at the University of Technology, Sydney. Zalehah is an Associate Editor of Rochford Street Review: https://rochfordstreetreview.com/2016/02/09/welcome-zalehah-turner-rochford-street-review-associate-editor

New Shoots Poetry Prize 2016 highly commended: ‘Anneslea fragrans’ by Magdalena Ball

Anneslea fragrans

First there is touch
teasing evergreen into position
waking naked
against sunlight
hot plasma in the morning
opens bracts

you can feel the tension
the garden on full alert

each root tip
the locus of electrical signals
reacting to groping fingers
sharp to the eye, but yielding
ready for the spit
scenting the air in anticipation
chemical compounds
communicating a warning
from the roots

there were no bees this year

silence buzzed through the air
an absence of sound
the hives empty
epithelial tissues connecting
to nothing

the air hurt with it

your eyes adjusting
the yellow cream points
unfiltered, unfettered
ready to pollinate
plant, interrupted

what else is on the way out

the list grows long
Javan Rhinos, Vaquita
Sumatran Tiger
Man

pulses like sound waves
transmitted in
voltage-based signaling
a green nervous system
sending out alcohols, aldehydes, ketones
plant to plant
the botanical telegraph

with your bad hearing
you’ll need to get down to earth level
to get the phytomorphic shivers

the splitting of senses
is a human-only perversion
most of what we taste is smell
taking the warning in vibrations
against the skull
terroir, a bitter crunch, crumbing
against the lips
almost desire

the spitting plant waits
Corymbs branching outward into warmth

a day that might not last
ineffably sad
ready for evolution.

-Magdalena Ball

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Magdalena Ball

Magdalena Ball is a novelist, poet, reviewer, interviewer, and the editor of Compulsive Reader. She has been widely published in literary journals, anthologies, and is the author of several books of poetry and fiction. Her most recent work includes, the novel, Black Cow (Bewrite Books), and the collection of poetry, Unmaking Atoms (forthcoming, Ginninderra Press).

 

 

 

‘Anneslea fragrans’ (the spitting plant): Zalehah Turner interviews Magdalena Ball, highly commended for the New Shoots Poetry Prize 2016

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New Shoots Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Poetry Prize 2016 winner: ‘Leaving Wilona’ by John Stokes

Leaving Wilona

Here it was lost, that blood-quiet ground;
guilt and imaginary loves gripping
the shade trunks of bitter-vine
that joined one year to another
across the face of the old house
grown over with lies

The father grew, here, hollyhocks,
sweet peas, English stocks
nodding within sight of the Harbour Bridge
weeping in rows through old
Uncle Butler Airways’ field
to a green, quilted sea, where

each slap of each sly curve of
wave rots the gentle fish-wharf
and this harbour still smells
like a warm girl; the alien
grandfather, silver haired, still haunts
a German fig-treed sky

Fright and decay…
Decay is where the root
drew sustenance, here,
where the second mother bloomed
at The Gardens, where voices grew
Never go back
silent, more insistent

and even then you would know
unwisely, that you should not
come here again: that you might find
nothing under a memory
or feel your blood creak
like that old door
………….
or see your own face pass through a gateway,
blank, unwarned
full of schemes for the new growth
clicking between illusion
and its memory; comforts
living in those small eternities

between a word and its soft-mouthed
speaking in the New World…

Brush past, alone, into
the raw ground…

Say nothing.

-John Stokes

‘Leaving Wilnoa’ is from the flower-drum sequence

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John Stokes

John Stokes is renowned internationally for his passionate campaign for plain-speaking in literature. He has won or been short-listed for many prizes and long-listed for both the University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s and Montreal International Poetry Prizes in 2014 and 2015, respectively. His third book, Fire in the Afternoon was published in the Poets and Perspectives series by Halstead Press in 2014 and won the ATC Writing and Publishing Awards 2015 for best poetry book of the year.

 

N.B. The judges of the New Shoots Poetry Prizes were unaware that ‘Leaving Wilona’ by John Karl Stokes was previously published in ‘Fire in the Afternoon’ (Halstead Press, 2014) at the time of the selection and announcement.

‘Leaving Wilona’: Zalehah Turner interviews, John Karl Stokes, winner of the New Shoots Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Poetry Prize 2016

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New Shoots Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Poetry Prize 2016 highly commended: ‘our primitive lives’ by John Bennett

our primitive lives

1

The Opera House squats on Djubuguli, once a tidal island
facing a sandstone cliff bracing our first farm whose sandy,
tough conditions dealt a pitiful crop of wheat and barley.
Tourists worship the radiant sails and Harbour Bridge ribs,
I focus on the wall. Commelina is fingering the rock, native,
edible, but confused with Tradescantia luminensis (a toxic weed
with white flowers known by a sour alias ‘Wandering Jew’).
The immigrants ate the juicy leaves to limit scurvy, called it
scurvy plant, but knowledge for the Eora was just a way of life.

The bailey is haemorrhaging slime moulds (fungi), algae, moss
and lichen, smears of colour bleed into curdled patterns, moist
voluptuous erosions and exhalations of precarious vocabularies,
hieroglyphs are living low relief. I wonder how it all smells.

My camera stitches connections, less intimate than harvesting moss
and its green simplicity, leaves one-cell thick on simple stems, handy
for bedding, dressing wounds, starting fires, or than vertical gardening,
or botanical exploration with loupes and textbook, but offering insight.

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2

As a child I splashed through puddles, slithered in mud, waste grounds
were playgrounds, dirt was the natural skin and now I celebrate
this neglected landscape of deflated hills, streams, swamp and desert.
What’s a wall to slime and roots but an opportunity?
This surface succours ancestors of all plants, of all 4,000 trees
the Garden wears, including my favourite, a monumental Flooded Gum
bleached by sunlight near Maiden Theatre. Plants have thrived here
for 200 years but figuring the ecology is a modern adventure.

An aesthetic approach to nature’s nooks and crannies threads life,
blurred bands of iron oxide and desert textures onto silicon memory.
This sandstone wall, 200 metres deep, poured from Broken Hill,
laid down and rammed with few collisions and only minor folding.
It’s a piece of art that moulds the marks of men and machine, as new
to the Eora as this perpendicular boundary to the Governor’s Domain,
the wind and rain plucks the grains out one by one.

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3.

The intimacy of slime lives with me. We are more than ‘digital archives
from the African Pliocene’. Just as cyanobacteria infiltrated chloroplasts
donating a one-off miracle to plants (the ‘green fuse’ of photosynthesis)
‘proteobacteria’ developed the engine that mitochondria use to power
our cells from oxygen – and the world slowly filled with life.

We can’t insulate landscape from history, history from prehistory,
biology from botany, life from lives. Through a Port Jackson Fig
the lapis lazuli sky dissolves around bright cockatoos raising their
scratchy voices and sulphur crests. The fig runs roots down fissures
in the rock with primitives clinging on, ferns sprout fractal wings
and grasses love a pinch of soil. What’s left of Darwin’s tangled bank
flowering elegantly from algal scum these last 500 million years
is in retreat, the sheer variety being locked away in seed banks.
I think that it’s plants that can mend the earth.

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Note:
This wall stands as a reminder that there is a story I want to trace. A 1788 sketch by William Dawes and John Hunter, ‘Sydney Cove, Port Jackson’, gives Djubuguli a sharp nose with a bald head. Leseur’s ‘Plan de La Ville de Sydney’ from four years later shows an aerial perspective suggesting a cliff. Neither show a Gadigal gathering place, or the Blackbutts, Red Bloodwoods and Sydney Peppermints towering above echidnas, antechinus and wallabies, or Aborigines hunting geese and duck in the swampy foreshores, drained and filled to enlarge the original farm now the Royal Botanic Garden. Governor Phillip built a brick hut for his kidnapped friend/informant Bennelong, leader of the Wangal clan, on Djubuguli, hence the new name Bennelong Point.

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John Bennett

John Bennett has won the Mattara (now Newcastle) Prize and the David Tribe Prize and is represented in Puncher and Wattmann’s Contemporary Australian Anthology. A documentary on his work was broadcast by ABC Radio National’s Earshot in February 2016. His PhD updates a Defence of Poetry and he now melds poetry and image with ‘Photovoltaic poetry‘.

 

 

‘our primitive lives’: Zalehah Turner interviews John Bennett, highly commended for the New Shoots Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Poetry Prize 2016

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New Shoots Poetry Prizes: the Shortlists

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Rochford Street Review and The Red Room Company are proud to announce the shortlists for the New Shoots Poetry Prizes. Thank-you to everyone who submitted. All submissions were inspiring and thought-provoking. There was an interesting range of styles and forms used to express a variety of plant-based themes; all of which deserve commendation. The winning and highly commended poems will be announced on 1 December and published in Rochford Street Review.

New Shoots Poetry Prize 2016

‘Anneslea fragrans’- Magdalena Ball
‘strangler fig’- Chloë Callistemon
‘Aboreal sorority’- Anne M. Carson
‘Antarctic Beech’- Stuart Cooke
‘Fallen Myrtle Trunk’- Stuart Cooke
‘The Cootamundra Wattle’- Penelope Cottier
Corymbia ficifolia’- Anne Elvey
‘What is commonly called a weed’- Jeremy Gadd
‘sensurious’- Ian Gibbins
‘Coirëflower’- Shaneen Goodwin
‘White mangrove (Avicennia marina subsp. australasica)’- Annie Hunter
‘vitis vinifera’- Miguel Jacq
‘Sheoak’- Mike Ladd
‘Tears of Stone’- Mohammad Ali Maleki
‘Agapanthus’- Moya Pacey
‘On Seurat in my back yard’- Frances Rouse
‘Sufficient Harvest’- John Karl Stokes

New Shoots Royal Botanical Garden, Sydney Poetry Prize 2016

‘our primitive lives’- John Bennett
‘Green warriors’- Jenny Blackford
‘Sydney Rock Orchid’- Kathryn Fry
 ‘How Deep is Your Love’- Julie Maclean
‘Leaving Wilona’- John Karl Stokes

Download a pdf of the shortlisted poets

Selection panel: Dr Tamryn Bennet, Director of The Red Room Company and Zalehah Turner, Associate Editor of Rochford Street Review

Plant a seed of inspiration in your mind’s eye and let it grow into a poem

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Zalehah Turner is a Sydney based critic, writer and poet currently completing her Bachelor of Arts in Communications majoring in writing and cultural studies at the University of Technology, Sydney. Zalehah is an Associate Editor of Rochford Street Review: https://rochfordstreetreview.com/2016/02/09/welcome-zalehah-turner-rochford-street-review-associate-editor