- THE DOROTHY HEWETT AWARD
By Angela Rockel
Winner of the 2019 Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript
In this remarkable book of place and decades of daily encounters in the natural world, Angela Rockel lays out the ways of describing and understanding she has learned through her life. As she writes, she bears witness to this place, which shapes her as she attends to it. The place is southern Tasmania, where she arrived as a young woman from her place of origin, Aotearoa New Zealand. The book is ordered around a monthly set of observations of the weather, of birdlife, mammal life, the life of trees in a forest, and the platypus swimming in the dam. That Angela Rockel is a poet is evident on every page. She writes of the unforgettable meeting with the contingency of things when describing wildfire: all the parts of me ragged in the looming blue of summer, oils going up from the eucalypts, waiting.
Following the here and now, and venturing into family history, too, in that elusive search for belonging, Rockel takes us back to Ireland and to Aotearoa New Zealand to track how we live in the natural world and how we might recover from our old habits of exploitation and dominance in landscapes of living.
‘An uncannily timely work. Its aesthetic achievement is deeply embedded in urgent concerns of our current moment. Rockel breaks down the artificial divisions between science, art, creative production and history to forge an original perspective and a model of connection between the creative processes of nature, knowledge and writing.’
‘This work gets to the heart of what happens within the long duration of a life. It is also significant in celebrating the unique but threatened beauty of the southern Tasmanian landscape. Rockel’s work is a call to action based on a life of bearing witness to a changing climate.’
Judges’ report on Rogue Intensities, 2019 winner of the Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript