2016 Judith Wright Poetry Prize shortlist

The Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize is one of Australia’s most significant prizes for new and emerging poets; with support from the Malcolm Robertson Foundation, the competition awards a first place of $6000 and runner-up prizes of $2000 and $1000, as well as publication in Overland’s first edition of 2017 (out in late March).

Thank you to all the poets who submitted work to this year’s competition. The judges, Overland poetry editor Toby Fitch and poet Jill Jones, commented that the entries were of an extraordinarily high standard.

Toby and Jill have now finished blind judging the competition and, after deliberation, have selected a shortlist of nine poems.

Congratulations to the 2016 shortlist:


‘MANY GIRLS WHITE LINEN’ is about many girls and their many white linen slavers.

Alison Whittaker is a Gomeroi poet and law graduate living on Wangal lands. She is the author of the award-winning collection Lemons in the Chicken Wire (Magabala Books, 2016).

Audrey-Molloy‘Languages I Learned in Hell’

Jargon, for all its faults, defines every inch of the map of human experience, from the broad avenues of our public lives to the dark alleys of personal loss.

Audrey Molloy was born in Dublin and grew up in the coastal village of Blackwater, County Wexford. In 1998 she moved to Sydney where she works as a medical writer and editor. Her poetry has recently appeared in Australian Poetry Journal, Offset Arts Journal, and Grieve Anthology 2016.

dave.drayton‘Life Cycle’

‘Life Cycle’ is a sestanagrammatina – a poetic form combining the anagram and sestina, developed by Michelle Grangaud – that explores marriage as an economic and romantic institution, and is dedicated to my fiancé.

Dave Drayton was an amateur banjo player, a founding member of the Atterton Academy, and the author of Haiturograms (Stale Objects dePress) and Poetic Pentagons (Spacecraft Press).

11233537_10153001151500805_3952943579976915933_n-1‘OK cupid’

The poem is composed from three stanzas, the words from each stanza are rearranged to form new stanzas.

Holly Isemonger lives in Sydney. She has been published in Shabby Doll House, Voiceworks, Clinic, and Seizure. Her writing has been featured in exhibitions for SPUR Publication at Embassy Gallery, Edinburgh and Tate Britain. She is assistant editor at The Bohemyth and studies at Western Sydney University.

K.A.Rees_AuthorPhoto-250x250‘Thin veil’

Set over a holiday weekend, ‘Thin Veil’ explores the intersections between memory and presence, experience and ambivalence; of being, both in and of the world.

KA Rees has a Masters in Writing from the University of Sydney where she studied various forms of the written word. Her poems and short stories have been included in Australian Poetry, by Red Room Company, Australian Review of Fiction, and Rochford Street Review.

LBROWN Overland1‘Self-division: little song selections’

‘Self-division: little song selections’ is a series of prime-numbered tracks about failure (sonnets: roughly Elizabethan or Italian, vox turned up a bit), taking in vistas from Western Sydney and images from Ern Malley’s poetry.

Lachlan Brown grew up in Macquarie Fields, South West Sydney. He currently teaches literature at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga. Lachlan’s poems have been shortlisted for the Newcastle Poetry Prize, highly commended for the Gwen Harwood poetry prize and longlisted for the Canberra Poetry Prize.

kocher‘Absent self-portrait’

A mysterious, somewhat ekphrastic poem written on the porch of Georgia O’Keeffe’s ‘Garden Cottage’ at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, about things invisible, or perhaps about the nature of levity and loss.

Shari Kocher’s poetry has been widely published in literary journals in Australia and internationally. Her first book, The Non-Sequitur of Snow (Puncher & Wattmann, 2015), was Highly Commended in the Anne Elder Awards. She holds a PhD from Melbourne University and currently works as a freelance editor, scholar and poet.

Samarawickrama‘River of crumbs’

For me, Aleppo’s destruction, the destruction of its people happened through a screen, via images, and all I had was empathy, and it is inadequate.

Sumudu Samarawickrama was born in Sri Lanka and grew up in Zambia. She is an emerging writer currently part of Footscray Community Arts Centre’s West Writers’ Group.

Faculty of Arts, English staff portraits‘Creature Quatrains’

‘Creature Quatrains’ have taken on lives of their own, and some choose to regard their human cohabitants with bitterness, love or open amusement.

Toby Davidson was born in Perth in 1977 and now lives Sydney as a senior lecturer at Macquarie University. He is the editor of Francis Webb’s Collected Poems (UWA Publishing) and author of the critical study Christian Mysticism and Australian Poetry (Cambria Press). His first poetry collection is Beast Language (Five Islands Press).


new MRF logo-2015The Neilma Sidney Prize is supported by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation


The final results of the competition will be announced late next week.

Editorial team

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