Judith Wright Poetry Prize: the 2017 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 2018 (out in late March).

Thank you to all the poets who submitted work to the competition. The judges, poet Ali Cobby Eckermann and Overland poetry editor Toby Fitch, commented that the entries were of a very high standard.

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

Congratulations to the 2017 shortlist:

Evelyn Araluen

‘Guarded by Birds’

and ‘Dropbear Poetics’

Evelyn Araluen (Credit John Janson Moore)

‘Guarded by Birds’ is an attempt to find shared language and ceremony to confront the cultural implications of suicide and mourning.

‘Dropbear Poetics’ is a threat against the swallowing of Aboriginal culture and languages in Australian literature.

Evelyn Araluen is a teacher and researcher working in Indigenous literatures at the University of Sydney. In 2017 she was the winner of the Nakata Brophy Prize for Young Indigenous Writers. Born, raised, and writing in Dharug country, she is a descendant of the Bundjalung nation.

Zenobia Frost



Written in upstate New York, ‘Lepidopera’ is a three-part paean to rage expressed in soft, small ways.

Zenobia Frost is a Brisbane-based writer and co-editor of Stilts Journal. Her poetry has been commissioned by Red Room Company, the Commonwealth Games Festival and the Queensland Poetry Festival. Her first book, Salt and Bone, is available from Walleah Press, while a Queensland Literary Awards Writers Fellowship supports new work through 2018.

Alex Griffin

‘The Love My Way Variations’

Alex Griffin

This poem comes from Putlocker.com, and the remediation of the mediation of triviality becoming grief: it stars Claudia Karvan (The Secret Life Of Us, Puberty Blues) and Brendan Cowell (Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War, The Slap).

Alex Griffin is a writer and academic from Kenwick, WA. His work has appeared in places like The Lifted Brow, Cordite and Overland.

Raelee Lancaster

‘Styx: a series of diary entries’


In this sequence of four poems, the poet recalls the experience of the death of an estranged family member and the regret and discomfort felt in that estrangement. This collection is based on a series of diary entries from when she was a teenager.

Raelee Lancaster is a Brisbane-based writer and researcher. In 2017, Raelee was shortlisted for the Fair Australia Prize (Poetry Category) and a finalist for the joanne burns Microlit Award. Her work has featured in Rabbit, Westerly, and Voiceworks. Raelee’s work largely focuses on exploring her Aboriginality and feminist agenda.

Bronwyn Lovell


Bronwyn Lovell

What if, after catastrophic environmental destruction, the rueful remnants of humanity — refugees of a fragile, flailing ecosystem — were to settle on the Moon, haunted all the while by the sight of Earth and shadowed by its eerie radiance?

Bronwyn Lovell’s poetry has appeared in Best Australian Poems, Meanjin, Antipodes, Cordite and other journals. She has won the Val Vallis Award and the Adrien Abbott Poetry Prize; been shortlisted for the Fair Australia, Newcastle, Bridport and Montreal prizes; and twice nominated for a Rhysling Award for science fiction poetry. bronwynlovell.com | @lovellybronwyn

Mia Slater

‘Music for a season moving’

Mia Slater

Time spins, while the poet — resigned to her smallness — tries to capture the movement.

Mia Slater is a poet currently living in Brisbane. She received the Kingshott Cassidy Scholarship Award from UQ in 2015, and a Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellowship in 2017. Her poems have been published in Australian Poetry and Rabbit Poetry Journal.

Stacey Teague



‘whero’ is about removing yourself from person & place and returning to yourself, your homeland, and the earth that you feel most connected to.

Stacey Teague (Ngāti Maniapoto) is a poet from NZ. She has a full-length poetry collection, takahē (Scrambler Books, 2014), and is the poetry editor for Shabby Doll House and Scum Mag. She can be found online at staceyteague.com

Rae White

‘what even r u?’

RAE-WHITE‘what even r you?’

‘what even r u?’ is about the discrimination and intolerance that the poet and their non-binary siblings so often face, and the exhaustion and sadness it can cause them.

Rae White is a non-binary poet and writer living in Brisbane. Their poetry has been published in Meanjin Quarterly, Cordite Poetry Review and others. Rae’s manuscript Milk Teeth won the 2017 Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize and will be published by University of Queensland Press in 2018.


The final results of the competition will be announced here, at overland.org.au, late next week.


new-MRF-logo-2015-300x221The Neilma Sidney Prize is supported by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation


  Header image: Paul Sableman — Shipping Container Mural / flickr


Editorial team

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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