Barrett Reid Award for Poetry

With the deadline for the Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize for Emerging Writers looming, here’s an announcement about the results of another poetry award.

It is with great pleasure that the Trustees of the Barrett Reid Bequest, Richard Haese and Richard Llewellyn, announce that the inaugural Barrett Reid Award for Poetry of $5,000 has been awarded to Michael Farrell. There were many high quality applicants and the Trustees thank them for their submissions, however the judge’s final decision was unanimous and their comments are noted below:

“The winner of the 2008 Barrett Reid Poetry Award is Michael Farrell. Although the standard was high, the judges agreed that Michael Farrell was a clear winner. His poems are notable for their craft; each line in each poem is lean and clear. Michael Farrell knows that a poetic ‘line’ creates the poem and that stanzas must finally make the whole cohere. He is a poet of composition, of practice, and he pumps out poems of subliminal force. Farrell’s bold cuneiform ‘poems’ unpick some kind of moodiness from language. The playfulness is thoughtful, intellectually serious and absolute. This poetry can be unsettling, and its abstract music is passionate as well as parodic. Farrell’s fractured narratives seem to settle in the reader’s mind where they become a form of pure lyricism.”

Robert Adamson – Chair, Keri Glastonbury and Jennifer Harrison

A selection of the work will be made by Keri Glastonbury and will be published in Overland.

Barrett Reid dedicated his life to the creation, support and nurturing of the arts in Australia for many years. His collection of poetry Making Country was released just after he passed away in 1995 and remains a testament to his talent as a poet and his depth and generosity as a person. Although Barrett never sought public acknowledgement for his work, Melbourne University recognised his great contribution by bestowing on him an honorary Doctorate of Laws, in 1995.

At his request, Barrett Reid will continue to support the arts posthumously. In his will, Barrett left provision for the establishment of the Barrett Reid Bequest.

Born in Queensland in 1926, Barrett Reid lived in Melbourne since 1951. He had a lifelong involvement in Australian Arts, and was associated with literary magazines in Australia since he became the youngest contributor to the influential modernist journal Angry Penguins. He went on to co-edit Barjai and Ern Malley’s Journal and was associated with Overland for over twenty years, from 1965 to 1993. Founder and chair of Australian Book Review Barrett Reid also published extensively on Australian art throughout his lifetime. A pioneer advocate of Public Lending Right, Barrett Reid was Chairman of the Australian government’s Public Lending Right Committee. He held many senior positions with organisations such as the Library Association of Australia, the Australian Library Promotion Council, the Contemporary Art Society, the Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne and Victorian Premier’s Literature Awards. In 1983, Barrett Reid was made a member of the Order of Australia.


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