The Bruce Dawe Prize…

by Marie Marshall

Dr Bruce Dawe AO

I begin by defining my terms. I’m not talking about the Australia-wide prize for poetry, because I’m not an Australian, but I am talking about a ‘Bruce Dawe Prize’. Bower Bird Press is a small publishing concern, the brainchild of Australian poet Ronald Wiseman. It’s main publishing project is the series of international anthologies under the umbrella title On Viewless Wings. The patron of this project is Dr Bruce Dawe AO, arguably Australia’s best loved and most influential living poet. He gives his time freely to judging a ‘long list’ of several hundred poems from each anthology and awarding a virtual laurel wreath to the best. The results are published in each following anthology under the heading ‘The Bruce Dawe Prizes’. My personal news is that the Champion’s laurel for 2011 has gone to my Sequence of Six Love Sonnets. Dr Dawe had this to say about them:

These sonnets range across the experience of love: the place of first meeting; the sense of kissing as a veritable feast; the artistry of love’s web-spinning; the ebb and flow of emotions; its life-giving alchemy; and the sense of love (at times) being a merry dance. [Marie] has dealt with each of these aspects with sophisticated, experiential skill.

Vera Rich

Dr Dawe is the second fellow-poet with an international reputation to appreciate my poetry. The other was the late Vera Rich, who was the world’s foremost translator of poetry from Slavic languages into English. She was never uncritical – in fact she was often highly critical – but she honoured me with a request to proof-read her most recent works prior to publication. This collaboration between us was, sadly, cut short by her sudden death.

Moving on, I recommend the latest issue of Decanto magazine, and not solely because it features one of my own poems, Le Baute (‘The Masks’). Decanto is always full of wonderful poems.