Dimitra Harvey has won the 2021 Queensland Poetry Val Vallis Prize with ‘Cicadas’; Dan Hogan wins second prize with ‘How_to_be_the_best_worker_in_the_world.ppt’ and Damen O’Brien wins the Highest Queensland entry for ‘What’s Wrong With the Date?’.
Rich in imagery that is both vividly real and subtly symbolic, ‘Cicadas’ is a lyrical meditation on mortality, transformation and sustenance. Its close observations – of insects, love, gardening, death and food – accumulate and deepen with each reading. An insightful, restrained and expansive poem.
The poem is driven by an experimental edginess, wildly creative wit, and is informed by a voice that is both incendiary and vibrant. Its form functions as rupture, embedded in it both an unfailing attentiveness and an absurdity impossible to ignore.
This run-on poem does not permit the reader to come up for air but rather compels us to confront ongoing Australian un-history captured in layer upon evocative layer, its frenzied rhetorical questions belie a steadiness gripping us and keeping us beholden long after reading.