Judging the Judge
Some years ago, I was invited to join with a group of two other judges to award the national poetry book award for a collection of poems to be announced at Writers’ Week in South Australia – with a very rich prize. There were about thirty books of poetry entered. I can’t recall any of the collections not being eligible for the shortlisting of six by all three judges. We met many times, argued, agreed, and finally went away to shortlist initially and then later to come up with an overall winner. There were no second prizes. The three shortlists were not identical. The three books chosen ultimately for the first prize were all different – although those same three books appeared in each shortlist.
I remember well that last meeting when we all agreed that all three collections were not only made up of excellent well-made poems but superb anthologies of those same poems. What we argued about until well after midnight was quite simply the emotional element. In other words how these poems touched our hearts and minds. One of the collections followed the theme of birth, another the natural world and the third a collection of contemporary prayers or meditations.
Harold Bloom the eminent American literary critic and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University has commented in one of his many books ‘We read poems to find ourselves’. Any individual sitting on (invited) judgement on others poems must firstly determine that they are all well made and whether traditional or modern do not falter when it comes to the integral elements of poetry. For example, the poems should not contain prolix, sentimentality, mixed or ludicrous metaphors, etc.).
The poems chosen here are all well-made and some are superb. The winner and runner up were the latter but in addition, had a profound emotional impact on me.
Jeff Guess
June 2018

BEHOLD – 14/5/18

This anthology is a rich and varied menu of surprise, reverence, love and longing, colour and humour. The poems also reflect Don’s faith and his appreciation and love of God’s creation and, if we pay attention, His many signs of grace to us in His world. Read these poems aloud and savour them.

Hope Whispers review

Hope Whispers

Edited by Janette Fernando and Maree Silver

 Poetica Christi Press, 2017

ISBN : 978-0-9941640-6-3

 Reviewed by Ian Keast

 “ I hope that…”  “ We hope in…”

To possess and express hope is intrinsic to our being human. Our hope, whether as noun or verb, opens to broad and diverse landscape: sun-basking peaks to darkening valleys. We have hope in someone or something, be that in – relationship; an idea; a way of life; creation’s richness; a dream; a wish; an event; family; a place; a plan; the arts ; and so on…There is the ‘sure and certain’ hope of being in Christ through grace.

To be hope-full is to be marked by- anticipation; optimism; desire; expectation; aspiration…And, above all, a longing that whispers, (in C.S.Lewis’s words), that our real goal is elsewhere.

 This Anthology contains poems that travel across this varying landscape. They are poems submitted to Poetica Christi’s Competition for 2016, Hope whispers. As in previous years, the winning poem, “ Eternity “ and the runner-up, “ Radicalised” , are included, as well as other entries. The Anthology not only contains the “ food “ for our travelling ; it looks good. The striking cover artwork by Nick Costello stirs the imagination; appropriate photographs are also part of the book’s layout.

Once again, PoeticaChristi Press and the Editors, Janette Fernando and Maree Silver, are to be congratulated in producing this fine Anthology. Here are different poems in style and subject, infused with hope. Many resonated with this reviewer, but if I had to choose one which embodies many of the varying aspects of hope – place, time, feeling, ambience, echoes, longing, and so on, it is, “ Carillon, Sydney University, “ ( Kate O’Neil ), and these lines, especially,  … marking time/ until the hour/ when sudden bells/ ring out resurrection./ Listen, wake, rise,/ feel jubilation,/ feel alive./ Ring bells, ring./ Renew. Revive./This is music for the world… With a quietness and gentleness, this poem, ( as do all the poems ), draws you in, invites you to read…to listen…to look up…and reflect…