Victorian Prize for Literature/ Thomas Talk At Museum / Okri At The Emirates Festival – Poetry News Roundup February 5th

We begin another week here on My Poetic Side with a look at the winner of the 2024 Victorian Prize for Literature, a talk on Dylan Thomas and the Emirates Literature Festival.

Victorian Prize for Literature 2024

Grace Yee, a debut poet, has been announced as the 2024 Victorian Prize for Literature winner and also the winner of the poetry category with her poetry collection “Chinese Fish” . The collection which is described as a feminist vision won a total of $125,000  making Yee the first poet in over a decade to win the overall award.

There were a record 807 entries for the competition this year and the winners were announced on Thursday last week.

Yee originally wrote parts of “Chinese Fish” during her PhD, which was on the subject of Chinese women writers in New Zealand/Aotearoa, and was inspired in part by the Aotearoa Chinese community which can trace its roots back to the mid-19th century.

In an interview which took place before she as aware that she had won the overall literature award, Yee, who is based in Melbourne, said that she felt completely overwhelmed by her poetry win. The collection tells the story of Ping, who has migrated from Hong Kong to New Zealand with her eldest daughter and their journey through racism, patriarchy, migration and assimilation during the 1960s to 1980s .

The last time that the Victorian Prize for Literature was awarded to a poetry collection, the winner was Jennifer Maiden in 2014 for “Liquid Nitrogen”. The award has been running since 1995.

Dylan Thomas Talk Hosted at Narberth Museum

On Friday the Narberth Museum, Pembrokeshire, hosted a talk about the craftsmanship of the poet Dylan Thomas.

The talk focused on the many devises that Thomas used in his poetry including those most commonly used by poets writing in the Welsh language in order to achieve what is termed “the colour of saying” which is the musicality that can often be found in poetry.

The talk, which was given by poet Peter Thabit Jones took an in-depth look at all of the devices Thomas used and also his use of villanelle, a poetic form.

Thabit Jones has written a number of book on the poetry of Dylan Thomas, participated in conferences and festivals across Europe and America and has also won a number of awards for his own poetry including the Homer: European Poetry and Art Medal.

Ben Okri at the Emirates Literature Festival in Dubai

Sir Ben Okri, one of the most acclaimed British poets, has been attending this year’s Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.

Appearing on stage in his signature beret, the poet gave a talk about literature and writing, and discussed how he feels that the subject chooses the writer rather than the other way round.

Born in 1959 in Nigeria, Okri won the Booker Prize in 1991. He was the youngest ever recipient of the award as well as being the first Black author to win it. He was made an OBE in 2001 and in 2023 he received a knighthood.

His most recent work is a book of short stories and poems titled “Tiger Work” which looks at the subject of climate change.

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