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CANBERRA’S best-known poet Geoff Page has won the 2017 Australian Catholic University’s $10,000 Poetry Prize, it was announced tonight at the University’s Melbourne campus.Page’s poem “Charles S. Ryan to Alice E. Sumner” was selected ahead of “Lichen: 13 points” by fellow Canberran Lesley Lebkowicz, who won the $5000 second prize and “On Botox, bibles and baguettes” by Melbourne’s Judy Keighran, who took out the $3000 third prize.
Page has published 21 collections of poetry and five verse novels. His abiding themes have been World War I, Aboriginal dispossession on the Australian frontier and farming and country-town life in the region, where he grew up along the Clarence River near Grafton in northern NSW.
Prof Chris Wallace-Crabbe, competition judge, distinguished poet and academic, singled out Page’s winning poem, which recreates a marriage proposal between two historical Australian families, for its gravitas and historical sensibility.
“This is artistic tact and intimations at a very fine level,” he said.
“The poems submitted for the ACU Prize this year remind us just how alive this art is in Australia at present and remains highly important.”
A $500 highly-commended prize was awarded to Alastair Spate and Jenny Pollak from Sydney, and Susan Fealy, of Melbourne.