Jennifer Maiden wins Age Book of the Year Prize

Mandy Sayer (left),  Christos Tsiolkas and Jennifer Maiden.

And now will definitely have to be short-listed for the Warrick Book of the Year prize in December! From The Age today:

WHEN Jennifer Maiden wrote a poem about Condoleezza Rice she
didn’t expect it to be picked up by an American university
professor and used in his teaching.

Maiden was delighted to increase her international readership
but horrified to learn the students in the first-year
communications course at the University of Wisconsin had only a
hazy knowledge of George Bush’s then national security adviser.

“Apparently none of them really knew who she was,” Maiden says,
“but they all knew the name of (pop star) Britney Spears’ baby.”
That poem,
Costume Jewellery, is in Maiden’s most recent
collection,
Friendly Fire, which was last night named
Age Book of the Year.

Maiden won the $10,000 Dinny O’Hearn poetry prize and a further
$10,000 as the overall winner. The awards were presented at the
Town Hall at the opening of the
Age Melbourne Writers’
Festival.

Maiden, who lives in Penrith, at the foot of the Blue Mountains
in NSW, calls her poetry “three-dimensional philosophy” and says it
is absolutely necessary for coping with the problems in a
post-September 11 world.

“I suppose it’s a laboratory for testing out ideas, and ethics
and theory and seeing what happens when you actually put them down.
How do they affect this character, how do they affect this thought,
how do they affect this particular set of circumstances?”

It is an approach she has always used. When she was 21 she wrote
a long poem called
The Problem of Evil, an exploration of
the ethics of the Vietnam war.

The judge of the poetry award, Lisa Gorton, said Friendly
Fire was remarkable because Maiden had invented a style to
equal her meaning.

“Her poems jump from large public events to small happenings,
from George W. Bush to the sight of clouds in the Monaro,” she
said. “It is this style — deft, eclectic and wide-ranging
— that allows her to write about the war in Iraq without the
hollowness or jingoism of public speech.”

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