La Trobe writer wins Mary Gilmore Award

Dr Quinn Eades – a La Trobe University researcher in gender, sexuality and diversity studies – has won the prestigious Mary Gilmore Award for Rallying.

The coveted prize, presented by the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL), is for best first book of poetry published in the previous calendar year.

Rallying marks a striking debut into the poetry-world for Dr Eades, who wrote this collection of poems as a companion volume to his PhD at La Trobe University, later published as all the beginnings: a queer autobiography of the body.

Dr Eades was assigned female at birth and began transitioning to a non-binary trans masculine person in mid 2015 at the age of 41. Much of the work in this volume works to undo accepted narratives of motherhood, and to place the birthing, breastfeeding, and transitioning body within text.

The collection is an honest commentary on gender, the body, language, trauma, queerness, parenting, trans embodiment and expression of the self. Rallying also includes ‘always going home: a domestic cycle’, which came second in the 2013 Newcastle Poetry Prize and was awarded $5,000.

Dr Eades flew to Canberra for the ceremony and said it was a surreal moment when he was announced the winner.

“It was astonishing just to be shortlisted. I never expected this little heart-book of mine would actually be awarded the prize.” Dr Eades said.

“Much of Rallying was written while I had very small children. I needed to write, but between breastfeeding a small baby and parenting a ridiculously verbal and active toddler, finding space to write was incredibly challenging.”

“Writing poetry saved me during this time. It connected me in with a long history of motherpoets – Adrienne Rich, Gwen Harwood, and Sylvia Plath to name a few – and meant I was no longer in isolation.”

“What I hope is that other motherpoets find solace in this work, and that trans parents see some reflection of their own lived experiences on the page.”

The three judges – who chose from a shortlist of five titles – commended Dr Eades for his “hard-won and sure-handed artistry” in Rallying, stating the collection was “a standout for its ambitious combinations of form and content” over 133 pages of poetry.

Dr Eades was recently awarded one of three Tracey Banivanua Mar research fellowships at La Trobe and is also a lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University. He is currently working on a book-length collection of autobiographical fragments and related theatre performance written from the transitioning body titled Transpositions.

PHOTO: Jamie James

Media Contact: Dragana Mrkaja – 0447 508 171 / d.mrkaja@latrobe.edu.au

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