the stamina of sheep
POETRY THAT SLOTS INTO PLACE.
THE ESSEX BOOK AWARDS 'BEST FICTION' PRIZE 2000 - 2002 GOES TO A POET.
But that is precisely what happened at the seventh Essex Book Awards ceremony this week. These awards are given to books relating to Essex (or the London Boroughs historically linked to the county) - books which in some way enhance the public appreciation and understanding of Essex.
The Fiction category was extremely competitive, its shortlist including established talent such as Martina Cole and Martin Newell. The winning book was Mario Petrucci's collection of poems, illustrations and photographs entitled 'The Stamina of Sheep'. Petrucci joined forces with Havering Arts, London Arts and 'Year of the Artist' to create a remarkable book for Essex County and the Thames. The book's title originates in the ancient practice of locating market towns such as Romford a minimum distance apart, as determined by the distance sheep can be driven in a day.
Petrucci is by no means a stranger to success on the literary scene. He has also secured this years' prestigious Arvon / Daily Telegraph Prize for poetry, a culmination of nearly two decades of successful literary activity of enormous range and diversity. This Havering-based project combines site-specific poetry of international standard with a local interest in literacy, adult creativity and school coursework.
The book's concerns extend - like radar - across and under Havering, the Thames and Essex; but they also raise issues of general relevance to how poets and poetry can function in the public domain. The poems are delightfully conceived, beautifully illustrated and stunningly executed. They introduce us to characters as diverse as Jimmy Wood the highwayman, a ghostly white lady, a talking glacier and a poem that gets drunk across the page. There are also moving poems about war and the nature of time. Petrucci has also performed the poems to widespread acclaim.
"Brimming with good ideas. This work should be the study of all Writers in Residence to see the level of excellence that can be achieved." - National Association for Writers in Education
"Heartfelt, ambitious and alive" - Jackie Kay on Mario Petrucci
Contacts: Essex County Council Media Contact - Julia Smith: 01245 437207
or contact the author direct for sample poems, further information about the project & book:
Photographs & poems on request. Also available for interview.
copyright mario petrucci 2001