Announcing The Nakata Brophy Prize 2020 shortlist

The Nakata Brophy Short Fiction and Poetry Prize for Young Indigenous Writers, sponsored by Trinity College at the University of Melbourne and supporters, recognises the talent of young Indigenous writers across Australia. The prize, now its fifth year, awards $5000 to one Indigenous writer 30 years or younger and $500 to two runner-up entries. First place also receives a writing residency at Trinity College and publication in Overland‘s print magazine.

We’d like to thank everyone who entered this year for their thoughtful and incredible work. We received an impressive and high quality range of poems, and each and every writer deserves congratulations. We’d also like to thank our judges, Evelyn Araluen and Gayle Allan (Trinity College), for their hard work and dedication to the decision-making process. 

After careful consideration, the judges have selected eight outstanding poems to form this year’s Nakata Brophy Prize shortlist. 

Congratulations to the following poets:

Tais Rose

‘From a Place, Unknown’

‘From a Place, Unknown’ explores the motion of finding one’s way back to country, language and culture despite not knowing its origin.

Tais Rose is an Aboriginal writer and weaver living on Bundjalung country. With a complex displaced cultural identification through ancestral dissociation, her poetry seeks to highlight the significance of decolonisation work, while celebrating the resilient sentience of Aboriginal culture and connection to country that is inevitably passed on through blood.


Jazz Money

‘sweet smoke’

This poem is dedicated to the humbling work of the Djab Wurrung Embassy, written with their blessing.

Jazz Money is an award-winning poet, filmmaker and educator of Wiradjuri heritage. Her poetry has been published widely across Australia and reimagined as murals, visual art and video art. Jazz is grateful to live on the beautiful sovereign lands of the Darug and Gundungurra nations.


Jasmin McGaughey


‘Yawo’ is about allowing yourself to feel like you belong and to believe in your connection to place spiritually and through bloodline.

Jasmin is a Torres Strait Islander and African American. She’s studying a Master of Philosophy (Creative Writing) and is a Junior Editor in the black&write! project. She’s also a recipient of the 2019 Next Chapter Fellowship. Jasmin’s always loved reading and writing and is proud to work and learn with First Nations writing.


Kirli Saunders


This poem was written in response to our first Korrobori on Gundungurra lands after 159 years of still feet. It seeks to honour our Old People, and the ceremonies that keep us connected.

Kirli Saunders is a proud Gunai Woman and award-winning international writer of poetry, plays and picture books. She is a teacher, cultural consultant and artist. Kirli created Poetry in First Languages delivered by Red Room Poetry. In 2020, Kirli was named the NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year.


Kartanya Maynard

‘Pink Gum Boots’

‘Pink Gum Boots’ is the inevitable loss of our childhood innocence and the aftermath that is our adult lives, the realisation that the rose-tinted glasses have been lifted.

Kartanya Maynard is a trawlwoolway woman of nipaluna/Hobart in lutruwita/Tasmania. Since a young age Kartanya has been a storyteller and always aspired to be an artist. She has gone onto establishing herself as a musician and is now emerging as a writer and poet.


Meleika Gesa 

‘Strait Back Home’

‘Strait Back Home’ is stream of consciousness describing the moment of returning home, about kinship and connections and lastly, a dark reminder that climate change is affecting our Island homes; one day, home might become a memory.

Meleika Gesa-Fatafehi AKA Vika Mana, is a storyteller that takes many forms. They perform poetry, write criticism, breathe life into worlds and lastly, can share a joke or two, max. That’s because they only know exactly two jokes. Vika is also apart of the FAMILI collective, rapping about Afros and abolition.


Grace Lucas-Pennington


‘Superposition’ borrows concepts from quantum physics to explore current, at times competing, narratives about this continent’s history.

Grace is a Bundjalung/European person living on Yugurapul land. She grew up mostly between Bundjalung country on the NSW north coast and the greater Logan/Brisbane area. Grace is currently the Editor for State Library of Queensland’s black&write! Indigenous Writing and Project.



‘The Stinging Bee’

‘The Stinging Bee’ cross examines the ecological impact of a harmful invading colonial insect with the ongoing suffering experienced as a result of the colony itself, from a Murri perspective.

Ancestress is a writer, poet, singer, and performer whose art practice revolves around climate change, ecological and social sustainability and therefore the importance of Land Rights / sovereignty and the interrogation of colonialism.

The final results of this year’s prize will be announced at a special online event late next week.

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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