Vagabond Press has had an extraordinary 2020, with Natalie Harkin’s Archival-Poeticswinning the 2020 John Bray Poetry Award, Peter Boyle’s Enfolded in the Wings of a Great Darknesswinning the 2020 Kenneth Slessor Award, and my book CarteBlanche winning the 2020 Mary Gilmore Award. Not to mention the acclaim garnered by the recent books by Melinda Bufton, a.j. carruthers, Toby Fitch, LK Holt, and Jessica L. Wilkinson.
For 20 years Vagabond has published established and emerging poets from Australia, the Asia-Pacific and the Americas. Like many small literary presses, it faces an uncertain future, and has launched a gofundme page to aid its survival. In particular, the campaign will support the publication of three new titles, presenting work by LK Holt, Tanikawa Shuntaro, and Shinkawa Kazue.
You can support Vagabond via its gofundme page, or by purchasing from its extensive backlist of poetry, fiction, essays, memoir, and criticism.
Good news… Vagabond Presshas launched its new website. Vagabond’s books of poetry from Australia, the Americas, the Asia Pacific, and Europe are available directly from the website, which now includes a sample of each book. It’s been a great 12 months for Vagabond, with Natalie Harkin’s Archival-Poeticswinning the 2020 John Bray Poetry Award, and Peter Boyle’s Enfolded in the Wings of a Great Darknesswinning the 2020 Kenneth Slessor Award for Poetry, among others. My book of poems, Carte Blanche, is available from the website as a paperback, and a limited edition hardback.
‘Literature is news that STAYS news’, as Ezra Pound wrote in ABC of Reading (1934).
In many Australian states and territories, there’s an annual award for ‘enduring architecture’, meaning buildings of at least 25 years of age that are considered high quality works of architecture. At a time when contemporary architecture is often derided as faddish and elitist, these awards celebrate – and perhaps encourage – architecture that proves its importance and influence over time.
As in the field of architecture, awards for literature and poetry proliferate. They’re an important means for celebrating newly published works – a benefit to the writer, their publisher and the reading public. But an award that recognises enduring books of poetry is also an attractive idea. It could be, for example, an award for a book of poems published at least 25 years ago – prioritising individual books of poems, rather than anthologies, or a particular poet’s book of collected, selected or complete poems.
Such an award could be a means to renew interest in books that have unduly lapsed from public consciousness or from a wide readership, particularly if the book is out of print, or the publisher has since closed. It could also be a means to acknowledge books that have remained vital, beyond the immediate circumstances in which they were published. It would be a way to celebrate poetry that has stayed news in some sense.
It’s imaginable, in many cases, that a book that didn’t garner much attention at the time it was published has nonetheless accrued importance over time, either through its influence on other poets, or in light of the poet’s subsequent work.
At any rate, such an award is an attractive idea and a modest proposal.