Announcing the winners of the 2015 Judith Wright Poetry Prize

Overland magazine and the Malcolm Robertson Foundation are very pleased to announce that Ella O’Keefe’s poem ‘alkaway’ is the winner of the 2015 Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize for New and Emerging Poets.

new MRF logo-2015Second place has been awarded to Omar Sakr’s ‘Not so wild’ with third place going to Jakob Ziguras’s ‘Jet lag song nets.

The two judges, poetry editors Peter Minter and Toby Fitch, note that the choice of ‘alkaway’ as winner

was unanimous due to its tight turns of phrase, its consistent internal logic, and its unusual and intellectual juxtapositions of image, idea and sound that recall Gig Ryan. Take, for instance, “a punchline flies business class”, or “turncoat, Georgic pink / bread bag”.

The judges described Omar Sakr’s ‘Not so wild’ as ‘a nostalgic narrative “crackling with storming boyhood”’, while in Jakob Ziguras’s ‘Jet lag song nets’, the narrator ‘re-encounters the snowy Polish city of his birth with disappointment and disgust’, resulting in ‘a procession of brilliant and eerie observations’.

You can read the detailed judges’ report, along with ‘alkaway’, ‘Not so wild’ and ‘Jet lag song nets’ in Overland 222, which will be out in a month’s time.

First place



‘alkaway’ is an extravagantly priced water filtration system whose touted health benefits form part of this poem about the linguistic and sensory environments of extrusion-moulded late capitalism.

Ella O’Keefe is a poet and researcher who lives in Melbourne. Her poems have appeared in Cordite Poetry Review, Text Journal, Steamer and Best Australian Poems. Her chapbook Rhinestone was published by Stale Objects dePress in 2015. She has made radio pieces for national and community broadcasters and is Audio Producer for Cordite Poetry Review.

Second place

Omar Sakr‘Not so wild’

‘Not so wild’ is an unravelling of adolescence, of boyhood in the suburbs, of landscape and longing.

Omar Sakr is an Arab-Australian poet whose work has featured in Meanjin, Overland, Cordite, Mascara Literary Review, and Tincture Journal, among others. He’s been shortlisted for the 2014 Judith Wright Poetry Prize, as well as the 2015 ACU Poetry Prize. He is currently guest-editing Cordite Poetry Review 54.

Third place

Jakob Ziguras Photo‘Jet lag song nets’

A sequence of ‘sonnets’ too exhausted to rhyme, evoking my conflicted response to my birthplace (Wrocław, Poland), as seen through a haze of jet-lag, upon my arrival there, at the beginning of last winter.

Jakob Ziguras was born in Poland in 1977. His first collection, Chains of Snow (Pitt Street Poetry, 2013), was shortlisted for the 2014 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. His second book is forthcoming with Pitt Street Poetry in May 2016. His currently working on his third book and translating Polish poetry.

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