Winners 2017

Zora Patrick, a year 12 student of Wellington High School, has won first place in the 2017 International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML) National Schools Poetry Award, with her poem ‘Dampening’.

Zora receives a prize of $500 and the opportunity to attend a poetry masterclass with judge Ashleigh Young and fellow poet James Brown at the IIML, home of Victoria University’s prestigious creative writing programme. Zora’s school library also receives a $500 book grant. Nine other gifted young poets were shortlisted in the awards and they will also attend the masterclass.

“I’m really happy to have received this award and am looking forward to reading the other short-listed entries. I’m also looking forward to the masterclass and meeting other people interested in poetry. My other big interest is drama, which is similar to poetry in the sense that you have to be receptive to what’s around you, and that is a big part of my writing,” says Zora.

Judge Ashleigh Young—poet and winner of the 2017 Ockham New Zealand non-fiction book of the year prize for her collection of essays Can You Tolerate This?—says it is often the poems which frame the everyday or suspend a single moment that are the most compelling.

“When I came across Zora Patrick’s poem ‘Dampening’, in which we see a man at the seaside, oblivious to everyone else, diving under and sticking his legs up in the air, I saw someone watching a small, ordinary moment in time and holding it up. Zora’s poem does that marvellous thing of telling us just enough that we can imagine the possibilities of the day. I found myself thinking of stories that might surround the poem. What else had the man been doing that day? Was his family on the beach, watching him? What was his life like? It’s Zora’s deft handling of surprising detail that allows for myriad possible interpretations.”

Zora Patrick will perform her winning poem in the Starling journal event at VicBooks (10.45 am, Kelburn campus, on Friday 25 August) to mark Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day.

2017 Award winner : Zora Patrick – ‘Dampening

Finalists : Katie Rata Gotlieb – ‘Dad

Finalists : Antonia Smith – ‘Tauranga

Finalists : Hannah Wetzel – ‘The Astrophysicist and the Mathematician

Finalists : Logan McAllister – ‘Circles

Finalists : Tessie Rose Poutai Tipene – ‘Stitches

Finalists : Millie Hulme – ‘Three views of the Rakaia

Finalists : Anna Doak – ‘The Gift

Finalists : Emily Rais – ‘Alright

Finalists : Piper Whitehead – ‘String Theory


Read the press release
Read the Judge’s Report
Read previous winning and shortlisted poems