Auckland Poet Margaret Moores wins $1000 Poetry Prize

Auckland poet Margaret Moores, is the winner of The Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems in 2022 and Lincoln Jaques, also of Auckland, is runner-up.

This prestigious prize, enabled by a bequest from the Jocelyn Grattan Charitable Trust, has been organised by International Writers’ Workshop NZ Inc (IWW) since 2009, and over the years has been won by both established and emerging poets.


This year, at the IWW prize giving held in November, judge Janet Charman, author of nine poetry collections, praised all the entries as being brave and imaginative.  

She lauded Margaret’s winning entry “Absences” for being a unified sequence with compelling narrative voice and evocative imagery that was satisfying to read while intriguing factual content contributed to a compassionate, evocative, and convincing realisation of past lives.

On receiving the award, Margaret said she was both delighted and honoured to be judged the winner of the 2022 competition. 

She said, “This sequence was a kind of Covid lock-down project in many respects. My mother died just as Covid arrived and I spent many locked-down hours thinking about how to depict maternal absence in writing that would have the evocative power of a photograph.”  

The result was a sequence of prose poems—both literal and figurative—inspired by photographs and ideas surrounding photography and photograph albums. The idea of maternal absence is introduced by poems about Victorian “Hidden Mother” photographs, but more personal and poignant maternal absences are revealed in poems about the existence of a “hidden mother” in the poet’s own family and the gradual deterioration in health of the poet’s mother whose death is the subject of the final poems. The poems are placed on the page as dense squares of type surrounded by blank space as if they were photographs and the sequence they are part of is a photograph album.

Margaret holds a PhD in English and a Masters in Creative Writing from Massey University. Her poetry and Flash Fiction have been published in online journals in Australia and New Zealand and in anthologies including Landfall and The Poetry New Zealand Yearbook. She and her husband own Poppies Books, an Indie bookshop in Howick.

Runner-up Lincoln Jaques, whose sequence Janet described as a substantial offering both in range and depth, also belongs to Isthmus Poets, a group of Auckland-based active poets and writers who are alumni of AUT’s Master of Creative Writing degree.

The Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems is sometimes referred to as the ‘Little Grattan’ as the Jocelyn Grattan Charitable Trust also funds the biennial Kathleen Grattan Award, run by Landfall / Otago University Press. 

IWW, which formed in 1976, meets twice a month from February through November, and in 2023 will hold some meetings via Zoom and others in person at their rooms at St Aidans Church in Northcote. The group hosts workshops and holds writing competitions throughout the year covering a range of topics and themes. IWW aims to encourage and inspire new writers as well as more experienced writers.

For further information about the Prize, or how to contact the winner, or about IWW in general, please visit the website at, email

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.