This is a big year for Australian poet Tasha Sudan who is featured in this interview with Eureka Street TV. She just won the Blake Prize for Religious Poetry, a recent addition to the suite of prizes in the Blake Prize for Religious Art. And in October she will be ordained in the Zen Buddhist monastery where she lives in the south of Japan.(Continues below)
Sudan's winning poem is called 'Rahula', which is the name of the Buddha's son, and is a word that, in Pali, means 'bond' or 'fetter'. In simple but evocative language the poem speaks of the Buddha from his son's point of view. In their citation for the prize, the judges said:
'Rahula' is a nuanced and original poem marked with crisp, clear language that remained consistently on-theme throughout. It's a mesmeric rendering of a portion of the life of Buddha seen through the eyes of his son ... Trance-like and exceedingly beautiful, Rahula explores gender, families and the choices the spiritual life requires.
As a child, Sudan lived in Canberra, and on the NSW south coast. After studying journalism and writing at university in Melbourne, she opted out in order to live in the country as she searched for deeper meaning in life. As part of the same spiritual quest she then travelled overseas, and discovered Zen Buddhism in Japan.
Sudan now lives in a Soto Zen temple called Toshoji in Okayama, halfway between Kyoto and Hiroshima, in the south of Japan. Her teacher is Seido Suzuki Roshi. Zen is a form of Mahayana Buddhism, and it has three schools in Japan: Soto, Rinzai and Obaku. Soto Zen is the most popular, and most widely practised of the three schools.
This video features Sudan in conversation with well known poet, Judith Beveridge, who is Poetry Editor for Meanjin literary magazine.
The Blake Poetry Prize is sponsored by Leichhardt Municipality in Sydney, and by the NSW Writers' Centre.
Peter Kirkwood is a freelance writer and video consultant with a Master's degree from the Sydney College of Divinity.