Shortlist for the Judith Wright Poetry Prize

Established in 2007 and supported by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation, the Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize seeks outstanding poetry by new and emerging writers who have published no more than one collection of poems under their own name. It remains one of the richest prizes for emerging poets and is open to poets anywhere in the world.

We’d like to thank the 650 entrants for their impressive work this year. Now, the 2018 judges – Alison Whittaker, Nguyễn Tiên Hoàng and Toby Fitch – have arrived at a shortlist of nine outstanding poems.

Congratulations to the following poets:

Ross Belton

‘Surfing at Blackfellas’

JWPP_Russ BeltonMy poem is inspired by a surf break encountered during a journey around the southern Australian coast and the code of silence that hangs over so much of our colonial history.

Ross Belton grew up in Esperance on the Western Australian south coast, graduated in environmental science and has worked in disability facilitation, as a zoo keeper, political hack and as a public servant. He lives with his son Jacky Blue and Jo the Cripster in Fremantle where he writes recipes for climate change lamingtons.

Dave Drayton

‘Post (c) Odes: a mathematical history of Australia’

davedraytonMy poem uses Australia Post’s list of postcodes to investigate naming as a colonial act of violence, and to reveal histories hidden in plain sight.

Dave Drayton is a poet, writer and Overland poetry reader He is a founding member of the Atterton Academy, Kanganoulipian, and the author of E, UIO, A: a feghoot (Container), P(oe)Ms (Rabbit), A Pet Per Ably-Faced Kid (Stale Objects dePress) and Haiturograms (Stale Objects dePress).


Robin M Eames

‘The disabled warrior emerges from darkness’

JWPP_Robin Eames

‘The disabled warrior emerges from darkness’ explores disability in myth and history, articulating modes of resistance and reclamation.

Robin M Eames is a queercrip poet and historian living on Gadigal land. Their work has appeared in Cordite, Meanjin, Voiceworks, and Deaf Poets Society, among others.


Kerry Harte

‘According to Aristotle I am a man’

JWPP_Kerry Harte

‘According to Aristotle I am a man’ is a poem about gender, body parts and labels; unnamed and misnamed body parts; names which are expressed freely and others which are supressed by shame, embarrassment and abuse.

Kerry Harte is an award-winning poet, astrologer, lawyer and creative artist who enjoys upcycling furniture. Her poems have appeared in Award Winning Australian Writing 2016, in Tremble as part of the Long List, of the University of Canberra, Vice Chancellor’s International Poetry Award and in various other anthologies.


Julie Jedda Janson

‘Acacia Land’

JWPP_Julie JansonThis poem is set in Ngiyampaa country in the outback, where a police car cruises on a quiet as death night. It tells us about meeting a ghost in a goat ravaged landscape near the outback town of Wilga, a tidy town.

Julie Jedda Janson is a Burruberongal woman of Darug nation. She is a teacher, artist, playwright and poet. In 2016, she was the recipient of the Oodgeroo Noonuccal Poetry Prize. Her published works include The Crocodile Hotel (Cyclops Press, 2015) and The Light Horse Ghost (Nibago – Booktopia, 2018).


Julie McElhone


JWPP_Julie McElhoneThis poem began while I was considering the constraints of an inherited androcentric linguistics upon an individual’s experience. And then it became its own thing.

Julie McElhone has just completed a Master of Creative Writing at the University of Sydney. She has had poems published in issues of the Deakin University student publication, Windmills. Her poem ‘Backtracking’ will be published in the upcoming issue of Rabbit Poetry Journal. Her professional background was in the performing arts and theatre administration.

Sarah Rice

My time in Govie Housing draws to a close’

JWPP_Sarah Rice

This poem is a last look in the rear view mirror of my decade in Government Housing – the characters, the kindness, the loss – at its heart it it shows the significance of being marked (or not) by care. 

Sarah Rice’s poetry collection Fingertip of the Tongue (UWAP) was shortlisted in the ACT Publishing Awards, and her work has been widely published. Sarah won the Ron Pretty and Bruce Dawe Poetry Prizes, co-won the Gwen Harwood and Writing Ventures, and has been shortlisted in numerous other awards.

Joel Scott


JWPP_Joel ScottLooking at graphic works by a friend, thinking about planes of vision and depth in time, slipping into memories of childhood, of my mother, questioning the justification of art without just inversions.

Joel Scott is a poet and translator from Sydney who now lives in Berlin. He has published the chapbooks DIARY FARM (Vagabond Press, 2014) and BILDVERBOT (cross nougat press, 2017). His translation of volume two of Peter Weiss’s The Aesthetics of Resistance will be published by Duke University Press in 2020.


Kaitlen Wellington

It’s about time’

Screen Shot 2019-02-22 at 5.14.56 pm

‘It’s about time’ is real, it’s a very special time that I shared with my soul sista that I’ll forever cherish, as it was also the beginning of me truly accepting my duty – to serve my ancestors and my people till the end of my days.  

Kaitlen Wellington is a descendant from the Jerrinja people, Yuin Nation, who is a BA student at UOW. She is a young emerging writer, who finds inspiration in the land and contemporary expressions of culture. She believes in the power of storytelling and intends to explore varying forms during her unfolding career.


Congratulations again to these exciting new writers. Final results will be announced at Overland shortly!

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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