Voyagers, Vogels and Montanas, Oh My!


Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand
is getting good exposure in the Dominion Post this week. Louis Johnson’s poem from the anthology, “Love Among the Daleks” was the Wednesday Poem in the DomPost, and in Saturday’s Indulgence section, there will be a short piece about the book written by Tom Cardy, whom I completely deny knowing since we were callow youths in Dunedin.

It bears repeating: You can buy Voyagers from as a paperback or Kindle e-book; New Zealand Books Abroad; or Fishpond. You can also find out more about Voyagers, and buy it directly from the publisher, at the Voyagers mini-site.

Bookshop distribution is taking longer to arrange – as an aside, one reason that Australian literature has a surprisingly low profile in New Zealand is that New Zealand bookshops seem reluctant to deal with Australian distributors – but books are trickling in here: at least, I know that Parsons in Lambton Quay, Wellington has a copy! But you may find that an online option is your best bet to buy the book at the moment.

UPDATE: There will be 5 copies in Unity Books, Wellington, from Friday 19 June.

The Sir Julius Vogel Awards 2009

It is long past time that I congratulated the winners in the 2009 Sir Julius Vogel Awards. Sadly for me, I wasn’t one of them; my cunning plan of competing against myself (with Transported and JAAM 26) allowed that up-and-coming author Elizabeth Knox to burst through the middle in the Best Collected Work category.

But my congratulations go to all the winners, and especially to Helen Lowe, who took out both Best Novel – Young Adult and Best New Talent, and Grant Stone, who won Best Short Story.

This Year’s Montana Book Awards Controversy

It wouldn’t be the Montana Book Awards without a controversy. Last year, the big fuss was over the judges for the Best Novel awards restricting the field to four candidates rather than the allowable five.

This year, Graham “Bookman” Beattie has criticised the elitism of the Best Novel shortlist, while Joanna Preston has noted that Auckland University Press and Victoria University Press have been the only publishers with works on the shortlist in the past two years, though other publishers have been represented there in the past.

One possible reason for the limited representation of poetry publishers is that, from the perspective of a small press publisher’s (or poet’s) budget, it is very expensive to enter these awards. To quote from the rules at

9. An entry fee of NZ$100 (including GST)
will be charged for each submission. A fee of
NZ$150 (including GST) will be charged for
publishers who are not members of Booksellers
New Zealand.

For books with a print run of fewer than 1,000
copies an entry fee of NZ$85 (including GST) will
be charged. A fee of NZ$125 (including GST) will
apply in this instance to publishers who are not
members of Booksellers New Zealand.

(In addition, publishers have to supply five copies of each book entered.)

To punt this amount of money, a small press publisher or author has to be confident that the book in question has a good chance of winning – and, given the dominance of the university presses (in particular VUP and AUP) in this category, not many small press publishers or authors would have this confidence. Thus, the more AUP and VUP win, the less competition they will have in future – and, though the finalists are certainly worthy of that honour, I think it would be good to spread the net wider.

If you agree, or if there’s some other aspect of the awards that needs improving, you have a chance to do something about it. To quote another blog post by Joanna Preston:

Addendum: this year is the last year under Montana’s sponsorship, and so Booksellers New Zealand are reviewing the awards, and are calling for public submissions.

Submissions should be emailed to:
AwardsReview (at),
or mailed to Booksellers New Zealand, PO Box 13248, Johnsonville, Wellington 6440
by 1 July 2009.

Submissions will be listed online at, by name and date, from Wednesday 10 June. They will be available to download in full, in pdf format.

7 thoughts on “Voyagers, Vogels and Montanas, Oh My!

  1. Thanks for the post, Tim. Good that Voyagers is being mentioned in the DomPost. And thanks for the Montana news as I can vouch that the $100 fee plus books is quite a lot for some small presses. (My publisher doesn't nominate because of the cost–he's not supported by a University). I'll be making a submission re. the fee. Still, it's an award and most awards are commercial ventures. They are rarely objective or fair and the University Presses do much to support poetry. But it is getting to be ridiculous.

  2. Hi Tim,Thank you for the Sir Julius Vogel mention–it was a very exciting night on 31 May, although I, too, was disappointed on your behalf that Transported missed out. But having just had my first look at Voyagers this morning, I think it should definitely be a contender for Best Professional Work next year!

  3. Not entirely fair Tim – in the post, I restricted myself to the observation that there were other publishers in New Zealand, but that they were not represented in the shortlists this year. (I know I'm going to end up with my head on a spike, but I'm trying to delay that moment …)

  4. Sorry about that, Joanna; I wasn't trying to misrepresent you. I have now changed that section of the post – please let me know if you still don't think it's a fair paraphrase of what you said.

  5. Harvey, I would hate to see the University presses get out of the business of publishing poetry, and, of course, they publish many excellent books which deserve their fair share of awards. My point is that other publishers' books deserve a look-in as well.Helen, thanks for the kind words about Voyagers!

  6. Hi Tim,sorry, I didn't mean to come across as quite so po-faced. It's just that you were saying directly what I'd tried to say obliquely … and I'd worked so hard on my tact! ;-)Has the NZPS committee discussed the awards at all? Would an official submission from the NZPS committee carry any extra weight, do you think?

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