Maxine Clarke is a West-Indian Australian writer and slam poet. Born and raised in Kellyville, in suburban Sydney, she is the daughter of a mathematician and an actress, who emigrated from England in the 1970s. Clarke holds a Bachelor of Creative Arts/Law (majoring in Creative Writing and Human Rights) from the University of Wollongong.
Clarke was a title holder of the NSW Writers' Centre/Gleebooks Annual Poetry Sprint, placed second in the Doris Leadbetter Poetry Slam, and the Northern Notes Poetry Slam, and was a finalist in the Melbourne Writers' Festival Poetry Slam during the 1990s.
Her short plays have been produced and her poetry broadcast on radio and presented at writers' festivals. Her reviews, articles and poems have been published in Tertangala, Voiceworks, Kunapipi Academic Journal of Post-Colonial Literature, The Sydney Observer, Melbourne's Child, Conscious Living, The Age, and The Saturday Paper, among other periodicals and newspapers.
After publishing a range of short works, Clarke released Foreign Soil, a collection of short stories with a particular focus on the African diaspora, in 2014: it had won the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript in the previous year and went on to win an Indie Award (debut fiction) and an Australian Book Industry Award (ABIA) (Australian literary fiction book of the year), as well as attracting shortlistings for the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, the ABIA Matt Richell Award, and the Stella Prize. In 2015, it saw Clarke named one of the Sydney Morning Herald's Best Young Novelists of the Year.
In 2016, Clarke followed up with a flurry of works: the memoir The Hate Race, the poetry collection Carrying the World, and the children's picture book The Patchwork Bike. All three attracted further awards: The Patchwork Bike was named a Children's Book Council notable book, Carrying the World won the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for poetry (and was shortlisted for the Colin Roderick Award), and The Hate Race won a NSW Premier's Literary Award, as well as earning Clarke her second nomination for the Stella Prize (among other shortlistings).
'What's the best fun in the whole village? Riding the patchwork bike we made! A joyous picture book for children by award-winning author Maxine Beneba Clarke.
'When you live in a village at the edge of the No-Go Desert, you need to make your own fun. That's when you and your brothers get inventive and build a bike from scratch, using everyday items like an old milk pot (maybe mum is still using it, maybe not) and a used flour sack. You can even make a numberplate from bark, if you want. The end result is a spectacular bike, perfect for going bumpity-bump over sandhills, past your fed-up mum and right through your mud-for-walls home.
'A delightful story from multi-award-winning author Maxine Beneba Clarke, beautifully illustrated by street artist Van T Rudd.' (Publication summary)
'A haunting visit to the International Museum of Slavery, in Liverpool, England. A feisty young black girl pushing back against authority. The joy and despair of single parenthood. A love-hate relationship with words.
'This collection brings the best of a decade-long international poetry career to the page.' (Publication summary)
'From one of Australia's most exciting writers, and the author of the multi-award-winning FOREIGN SOIL, comes THE HATE RACE: a powerful, funny, and at times devastating memoir about growing up black in white middle-class Australia.'