Newcastle Sonnets

Shortlist year: 2019

Shortlist category: Poetry

Published by: Giramondo Publishing


Once considered a masculine working-class heartland, Newcastle is now acclaimed as one of the hipster cities of the world. In the sequence of sonnets that compose her homage to Newcastle, Glastonbury celebrates the city's oddities and contradictions, remixing the material effects of post-industrial gentrification with the vernacular of social media. An antipodean, regional, queering of Ted Berrigan's New York-based The Sonnets, Glastonbury's poems embrace the city's DIY chutzpah and the swipes, likes and filters of internet culture. This is Newcastle in cosplay mode, part eggs benedict, part pebblecrete, where a coal ship named 'Fiction' is being towed into the harbour.

About the author

Keri Glastonbury

Keri Glastonbury

Keri Glastonbury is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Newcastle. Her poems have been widely published in magazines and collections. She has been the recipient of the Australia Council's BR Whiting Residency in Rome and an Asialink Literature Residency in India. Her previous poetry collections include Grit Salute (Papertiger, 2012).

Judges’ comments

Keri Glastonbury's Newcastle Sonnets is a post-industrial love song to the city of Newcastle: once working-class heartland, now a world-topping hipster cities. To Glastonbury's eye the city is a 'chiaroscuro of coal dust and sand'—'plum blossoms line Pinnaroo Drive' while 'a shopping trolley rusts at the rocks'. Glastonbury's sonnets, far from stultifying, are energetic and playful as they enact the associative freedoms of everyday speech. Her tone—wry, not sappy, politically savvy, not didactic—acts as a stabilising force beneath the nervous surfaces of the poems, allowing her to say whatever pops into her head without appearing random. Variously the poems address lovers and friends and frequently incorporate comical cameos from the political class—Tony Abbott, Bob Carr, Penny Wong's speechwriter, and many more—but at least one politically apathetic Novocastrian remains: having none of it, she folds her 'voting slip into an origami crane'.