Sydney poet Judith Beveridge has won Australia Catholic University’s coveted poetry prize for a poem dedicated to her husband, fellow poet Stephen Edgar.
The $10,000 prize is Australia’s richest prize for a single poem and attracted more than 550 poems this year.
In a poetry career spanning 50 years, Beveridge is regarded as one of Australia’s finest poets. She has won numerous major prizes including the Christopher Brennan Award, the Peter Porter Poetry Prize, and several state literary awards.
“I just feel so blessed to have found a passion in life. When I think of all the things that writing has given me, I just have to pinch myself,” Beveridge said.
Responding to this year’s theme of Love, Beveridge’s winning poem Two Houses is a flashback to the first rental home she shared with Edgar in 2005. Edgar had just moved to Sydney from Hobart so they could pursue their relationship.
The pair had met less than a year prior for lunch to discuss a review that Beveridge had written on one of Edgar’s books for the Australian Book Review.
“That was it, we just knew that we were meant to be together,” Beveridge said. “All these changes started to happen, and the poem explores that a bit.”
ACU Prize for Poetry judge Margot Hillel said Two Houses was a tender and loving poem that clearly met this year’s theme.
“Despite appearing simple, it is actually quite complex and multi-layered, seamlessly weaving together the natural world, the imagery of the railway and the deeply personal and human. It is also, however, accessible and very evocative of a newly found love,” ACU Emeritus Professor Hillel said.
ACU Vice-President Fr Anthony Casamento CSMA said as a Catholic institution, ACU was committed to providing a space for emerging and established poets to hone their craft.