Winner of the 2020 Jessie Mackay Prize for Best First Book of Poetry, Ockham NZ Book Awards
Craven is an exceptional debut: Jane Arthur delights, unnerves and challenges in poems that circle both the everyday and the ineffable – piano practice, past lives, being forced onto dancefloors. This is a smart and disarming collection that traces the ever-changing forms of light and dark in our lives, and how our eyes adjust, despite ourselves, as we go along.
‘She seems to me a poet of scale and embodiment. Her moments are informed by awe and intelligence – quick and seamless. They don’t have to try so hard. I felt novels and films in these poems. I thought: this is a poet of capacity.’
— Eileen Myles
'The poems in Craven seduced and delighted us even as they revealed a speaker filled with uncertainty, self-loathing, futility. They did that thing that the best lyric poetry does: they showed us an emotional interior, an individual human heart (often a literal heart, a stubborn, durable, hidden muscle) by way of a patient, alert attention to the world beyond the self. This introverted speaker demands to be seen, to be heard — and she is seen and heard in these remarkable poems. Jane Arthur takes, in a phrase lifted from one of them, a “sharp, large knife” to the speaker’s observed reality: she cuts it and refashions it into something new and strange, and transports us there.' —Judges' comments, Ockham NZ Book Awards 2020
Jane Arthur was the recipient of the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize in 2018, judged by Eileen Myles. She has worked in the book industry for over fifteen years as a bookseller and editor. She has a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the IIML at Victoria University of Wellington. Born in New Plymouth, she lives in Wellington with her family and dogs.
Cover design: Keely O'Shannessey