Professor of English and award-winning poet Professor Oz Hardwick has been announced as the winner in the Poetry category of the 2019 Rubery Book Prize list.
The Rubery Prize is a prestigious international book award for the best books published by independent presses and indie writers from around the world.
Professor Hardwick's winning collection, Learning to Have Lost, was published last September by Recent Work Press in Canberra, where he had a short residency. The collection is a series of prose poems on the subject of loss.
While the subject matter is weighty, Shane Strange, publisher at Recent Work Press, said: "A resolute humour asserts itself throughout [Learning to Have Lost] that is sometimes sinister, sometimes surreal, often surprising and enormously engaging."
The Rubery Prize was established in 2011 and this year's entries were judged by a panel of academics and writers including Paul McDonald, Kerry Hadley-Pryce and critically-acclaimed author Clare Morrall. The competition aims to celebrate and recognise the work of writers outside of traditional publishing, with the winners benefiting from a heightened literary profile.
Professor Hardwick said: "Naturally, I'm delighted. Once they're written, books sail off into the unknown, and the writer never knows where they will come ashore – or if they'll just sink! So, it's wonderful that Learning to Have Lost has received such a welcome, and I'm humbled to be in company with some of my predecessors."
Learning to Have Lost has now been issued in a second edition, and Professor Hardwick is also at the heart of a surge in popularity of the prose poem. He co-edited The Valley Press Anthology of Prose Poetry which was published in July, which features the best in contemporary British writing, including work by the new Poet Laureate Simon Armitage. The anthology was launched at a major international symposium at Leeds Trinity University last month. Hardwick's own new poetry collection, The Lithium Codex, was also published in July by The Hedgehog Poetry Press.
Learning to Have Lost is available from Recent Work Press, priced $8.95.