Judge by day, poet by night

06 June 2012

John Adams
District Court Judge John Adams

District Court Judge John Adams, who recently completed a Masters of Creative Writing in the Faculty of Arts, has won a major award for his first book of poetry. He is also a graduate of the Faculty of Law.

His collection, titled Briefcase, is the 2012 winner of the NZSA Jessie Mackay Award for the Best First Book of Poetry. The manuscript was developed while he was enrolled in the MCW course in 2009.

Briefcase, published by Auckland University Press, is a melange of poems – in traditional and experimental forms – and other texts: affidavits, police reports, a Sudoku puzzle, court transcripts, a menu, wills and commentaries, presented as a briefcase of lost documents.

This is the fifth year in a row a Auckland University Press book has won the NZSA Jessie Mackay award for the best first book of poetry.

The convenor of the judging panel said the judges considered Briefcase to be a daring debut that marries law and poetry; a challenging, creative and moving collection.

“Using clever language play, Adams has created a poetry smorgasbord of plain poems, lyrical lines, traditional forms, fake documents, a Sudoku puzzle and so on. But what takes this collection beyond the post-modern gymnasium is its ability to affect you.

“His experimentation with form depends upon the heart as much as it does the intellect.”