Grant Recipients Cy Twombly Award for Poetry Poetry 2024

aj carruthers

A black and white photo of aj carruthers facing the camera with his gaze looking upwards. Only his face is visible in an otherwise dark space, brows slightly furrowed.
Photo courtesy of the artist.
  • 2024 Cy Twombly Award for Poetry
  • Poetry
  • Poet, Performer
  • Born 1987, Sydney, Australia
  • Lives in New South Wales, Australia
  • He/Him

Artist Statement

I’ve been working on several projects in several different areas. One is a long poem, Axis, which is to be written for the duration of my life. These poems are written in vertical stanzas top-to-bottom and in columns as in East Asian script. To date 91 of these have been published in three volumes. I’ve done soundworks, like Consonata, which I continue to perform and update with the times, and a series of visual works using an EPSON printer. I regularly do stanzaworks (antic cinquains, regulated verse, stanzas for odd occasions) some of which have appeared in print. Since 2019, I’ve been writing prophecies, an Almanac, with the aid of blocks of ice. Each prophecy is 5 lines, and organized in centuries as per Michel de Nostredame. To date, 7 centuries have been completed. These remain privately circulated for the time being. 

I’m not sure if there’s a unifying principle for these works because each of them is a different type of thing requiring a different approach. Over the years I’ve concentrated my efforts more to these projects and ceased inventing new ones. I keep the dynamism and movement of each project alive by attending to them steadily over time.

- December 2023


aj carruthers (also spelt A. J. Carruthers, aj Carruthers, and a number of variants) is a poet and performer who also writes commentary and criticism on poetry. carruthers’ work includes poetry written using stanzaic forms, works involving the use of musical scores and other aids for performance, and poems that draw from East Asian poetic forms, including the style of stanzas running vertically rather than from left to right. 

Axis, an ongoing project since 2014, comprises the following volumes; AXIS Book 1: ‘Areal’ (Vagabond Press, 2014), AXIS Book 2 (Vagabond Press, 2019), and AXIS Z Book 3 (Cordite Books, 2023). Each volume includes music, and volume three borrows from the structure of Christopher Smart’s poem Jubilate Agno, concluding with an unnumbered section titled ‘War’. The ongoing development of the work points to a unity of opposites, as it exemplifies both rapid change and unyielding changelessness. 

Other works by aj carruthers include Literary History and Avante-Garde Poetics in the Antipodes: Languages of Invention (Edinburgh University Press, 2024), Stave Sightings: Notational Experiments in North American Long Poems (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), Consonata (recording and score) Cordite Poetry Review, 2019), The Blazar Axes (Calgary: Spacecraft Press, 2018), and EPSON L4168 consonant studies (Banff: no press). 

carruthers was a Shanghai Dongfang Oriental Scholar (2019-2021), a recipient of a Getty Research Institute Library Fellowship (2011), and worked half a decade in China (2017-2023), first as Lecturer at the Shanghai University of International Business and Economics (Shanghai, China), then as Associate Professor at Nanjing University’s Department of English (Nanjing, China). carruthers is currently a Fellow at the Australian National University College of Arts and Social Sciences (Canberra, Australia). 

"AXIS No. 69 Zigzag" from AXIS Z Book 3, Cordite Books, 2023.

"AXIS Music / Notation" from AXIS Z Book 3, Cordite Books, 2023.

"Antic Cinquains 1" from Otoliths Issue 52, Mark Young, 2019

"Not Burping" 2023.