Kenneth Slessor Prize – shortlist

I didn’t see this coming at all! After the struggles with Guillotine Press going bust I thought my first collection – BONE INK – had gone as far as it could and I’d have to start getting serious about work on the second book or a chapbook or something. But I found out this week that it’s been shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

Read below for the judges’ comments about BONE INK:

Rico Craig’s exhilarating, original debut collection is an urgent yet tender symphony to generational and poetic metamorphosis. Written across two sections, ‘Bone Ink’ and ‘The Upper Room’, the book opens with a heartbreaking elegy before moving cinematically from evocative memories of a Malaysian childhood, to courageous, unflinching odysseys through the blood lines, hope and decay of contemporary suburbia. The book’s heart beats in western Sydney, where love, brotherhood and the scent of violence are depicted with intimacy and passionate honesty.

Craig’s quicksilver lyricism and assured sense of form are inspired by a refreshingly romantic metropolitanism. Drawing upon key movements in twentieth and twenty-first century poetry and poetics, Craig’s poems synthesise tactile, vernacular speech with a sensuous, immediate sense of place and an insightfully nuanced reach for allegorical possibility. The imagery and observations are clear and energetic while plumbing the depths of the imagination, which, in the end, is liberated in the best possible way.

If that makes you curious jump over to here, where you’ll be able to pick up one of the few remaining copies of BONE INK.

I only half believe this has happened, I always keep an eye on the Kenneth Slessor Prize, always pay attention to who is shortlisted, so it feels very strange to be on the list!

The other books on the list are fantastic and worth chasing up, check out what the judges had to say about them:

Archipelago by Adam Aitken

Euclid’s dog: 100 algorithmic poems by Jordie Albiston

Argosy by Bella Li

Captive and Temporal by Nguyễn Tiên Hoàng

These Wild Houses by Omar Sakr


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