The Anne Elder Award is for the best first book of poetry published in Australia, awarded annually.
From 1977 to 2018, the award was administered by the Victorian branch of the Fellowship of Australian Writers.
The 2018 award (awarded in 2019) was the first under the new administration by Australian Poetry.
'This is a captivating and varied collection. No matter what Ella Jeffery turns her attention to, her subjects find sharp resolution in language that has been subtly crafted and beautifully honed. These poems carry their insights deftly and intensely, her lens always focussed on those alchemical images that move her work from sensation into perception, from observation into shimmering awareness. Everything shines with the gloss of her highly polished linguistic and imaginative skills. Her work is a triumph and a delight.
– Judith Beveridge
'As its title suggests, Dead Bolt is a meditation on home and its ability to become suddenly unhomely or uncanny. Ella Jeffery’s poetry ranges from the plangent and elegiac to the comic and satirical. It attends to both the eye and the ear; its extraordinary imagery is matched by a marvellous attention to poetry’s sonic capacity. Dead Bolt is a compelling, exquisitely realised debut.
– David McCooey
'I love Ella Jeffery’s poetry. Like Elizabeth Bishop’s, it is companionable and unshowily surprising, and has perfect timing. Jeffery is clear-eyed and has a gift for the exact word, one that opens a rift. This is a masterly and original first collection—a major work.
– Lisa Gorton'
Source : publisher's blurb
'blur by the is a collection of fractures that make not quite a whole. It is a giving of permission to the self, to exist as messily as ( i s ). These poems are a record of navigation through longing and dis [ place ] ment of the body and of place, a shattering of expectation(s) of the self and of family, often through dreams, food and eroticism. blur by the is an attempt at freedom.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
'In Flood Damages Andrada explores themes associated with immigration and inheritance, through the figure of a young Australian Filipina woman, whose family has been irreparably damaged by deportation, violence and illness. The wounds inflicted by these events, political and personal, are felt most keenly in and through her body – ‘your blood sings of the scattered histories/ that left you here’ – and in a dramatic use of language, influenced by the rhythms of prayer, which expresses pain and anger with passionate intensity. A poet and performing artist, Andrada combines the theatrical qualities of voice and image in this, her first published collection, affirming the female body as a site of vulnerability and power.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
'From the backroads of the Australian outback to the icy streets of Paris winter, these dynamic poems traverse geographies, languages and techniques. Marked by a subtle probing of the metaphysical layerings that underpin human experience, this exploration returns again and again to the concrete details of everyday happenings. Drawing equally on moments of joy and loss, shifting from comic and bawdy bohemianism to introspective sensory envelopment, Awake at the Wheel evokes a dynamic and fragile world. This fragility is an insistent theme, both in terms of human mortality and ecological crisis. These poems travel across a beautiful earth, through mental and spiritual zones bleached by consumer capitalism, and through country ravaged by mining, passing amongst the ghosts of those who have gone before, the spirits of loved ones, and of cultural and literary inheritance. This is a collection of playful, innovative and imaginative poems, driven by a refined and attentive musicality, brimming with possibility and surprise.' (Publication summary)
'In his retelling of the myth of Orpheus – where Eurydice is described as ‘the profoundly obscure point to which art and desire, death and night, seem to tend’ – Maurice Blanchot charts the relationship between poetry and loss, by which to desire is to necessitate, even to invoke, obscurity: to confine the object of desire, along with the poet, to song; to translate life into word, and, through word, into dream. In this conception, to write is always to admit to, but also to dwell with, loss – to experience the loss of a once-loved person as a mode of living. When Nerval writes that dreams are a second life, he not only refers to the dreams we experience in sleep, but also to the dreams that arise as a consequence of lost desires, dreams perhaps thwarted by chance: of lives once meant, but never lived.
'These lives often coexist with our own as lost alternatives, counter-experiences or impossible possibilities; they lie within the everyday like a subtext, or a haunting. To transmute desire into language is to erect a monument to that desire, to announce it as permanent, but also to profoundly transform both the subject and the object of desire: to confine them, in their relationship, to the monument and the tomb. Since evocation presupposes loss or absence – as Mallarmé showed – then to write is to desire something that continually slips away, and must once again be invoked in a series of repetitions and beginnings that both conjure and obscure. '–John Hawke' (Publication summary)
'Body Language is a strong debut collection. Rather than heralding the sudden arrival of an exciting new voice in Australian poetry this book represents a voice that has been there for some time but is only just now confident enough to speak up and make itself heard, for Allen has been a silent participant and observer in the Australian poetry scene for some time. Here she writes about everyday experiences – doing a crossword, studying a bunch of flowers, watching a bird out the window – as they are refracted through the prism of the poet’s mind with all its obsessions, anxieties and peculiar sensitivities. Allen writes about grief and how we repeatedly make sense of absence, with moving accuracy. Her poetry is mindful and grounded in the body, but it also goes off on unusual imaginative tangents. These poems take us from Sydney to Italy, from the psychiatrist’s office to the hairdresser’s; there is sex, love, and friendship, and even Kate Moss makes an appearance. Allen’s poems are concerned with emotional rather than factual accuracy.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.