David Holmgren and Tim Loveday, Radius Gallery, Words in Winter festival.
Photo: Catie Payne
Congratulations to Tim Loveday for writing the winning poem of the 2023 Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize, i watch a cat choke / call it [redacted].
A huge and heartfelt thank you to this year’s judges, Alison J Barton and Peter O’Mara. Here is what Peter had to say about the poems overall:
As with life, the 2023 Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize poems invoke our essential being. A poetic complex of human condition & nature, openly posited in uncertain times. Into such contested mix, feelings of sorrow, joy, wonder, revision, responsibility, and at times, outrage. Within this, authentic voice seeking reciprocal meaning and renewal. At times tender, sometimes not, but never lacking in intent or hopeful gestalt. Much like an existential knot, at times pulled tight and in other, untied with a gentle release to both ends. In moments, just observant unfold. Maybe an affirmative call to action, simple produce collected from the garden or imbued recall to nature. Always valid & inspired. As I imagine, exactly what my poet-friend Venie would ask for.
And here is what Alison had to say about the winning poem:
‘i watch a cat choke / call it [redacted]’ is an art-piece visually, literarily, linguistically and grammatically. It is a dense, poetic expedition into the familial, the mammalian, the natural world and that which disturbs these realms. With such broad subject matter, we are invited to consider the suburban, the domestic and then the philosophical, the juxtaposition of which has us questioning, turning, attuning to and even destroying our suppositions.
As my co-judge put it, the poem’s use of grammar and repetition of the redaction technique, using slashes and square brackets, is disruptive and that for us represented where we are at now in the modern community, the modern society, indeed the world. But where it is disruptive, it is also smooth with clever wit. It takes us from the micro to the macro of the now, the present, from the family to the planetary asking us, is there a difference between the magnitude of the two?
Tim’s unique phrasing gives us images of mothers watering bone-dry buffalo, of silhouettes scaling ladders, skies blurring and windows without exits. The poem is a beautiful and monumental achievement in environmental literature and, among a tough field of competitors, was for us the standout winner.
Thank you to all those who entered this year’s Venie Prize, and all those who attended the Prize announcement event at the Words in Winter festival on Sunday.