Janet Charman wins top poetry award

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Janet Charman has won the 2008 Montana New Zealand Book Awards poetry category in a tough contest, one that marked a bumper year for New Zealand poetry. Charman took the prize for her poetry…

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Janet Charman has won the 2008 Montana New Zealand Book Awards poetry category in a tough contest, one that marked a bumper year for New Zealand poetry. Charman took the prize for her poetry collection Cold Snack.

Cold Snack is Janet Charman's sixth collection of poetry. The former secondary school teacher and tutor at the University of Auckland now writes full time and is working on her seventh collection.

The announcement was made on Montana Poetry Day; a nationwide celebration of events featuring some of the country's best and emerging poets. Janet Charman has won the 2008 Montana New Zealand Book Awards poetry category in a tough contest, one that marked a bumper year for New Zealand poetry. Charman took the prize for her poetry collection Cold Snack.

Cold Snack is Janet Charman's sixth collection of poetry. The former secondary school teacher and tutor at the University of Auckland now writes full time and is working on her seventh collection.

The announcement was made on Montana Poetry Day; a nationwide celebration of events featuring some of the country's best and emerging poets.There were 26 books submitted in the poetry category of this year's Montana New Zealand Book Awards compared to 19 the year before.

Montana New Zealand Book Awards judges' convenor, Lynn Freeman says poetry was without question one of the strongest categories in this year's awards.

'Choosing a winner was the occasion for the longest and most heated debate of this year's meeting.'

Janet Charman's work stood out for its highly economical writing, where words act as gestures, indicating with small movements things much larger than themselves, says Ms Freeman.

'Her off-hand, sometimes deceptively confessional tone belies the poems' finely-worked structures and the careful precision of the language itself, often pared down into short lines of two or three words.

'Her poems are accomplished, perceptive, humorous and generous.'

The West Auckland resident competed against poetry category finalists, A Long Girl Ago by Johanna Aitchison (Victoria University Press) and The Pop-Up Book of Invasions by Fiona Farrell (Auckland University Press) to take the prize.

Published by Auckland University Press, Cold Snack will be judged alongside the winner of the Fiction category for the ultimate prize, the Montana Medal for Fiction or Poetry (formerly called the Deutz prize). The winner will be announced at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards ceremony and gala dinner at the Wellington Town Hall on Monday 21 July.

Janet Charman, will accept her prize of $5,000 as poetry category winner at this gala dinner.

The principal sponsors of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards are Montana and Creative New Zealand. The awards are managed by Booksellers New Zealand and supported by the Book Publishers Association of New Zealand, the New Zealand Society of Authors and Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd.

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