Final Results of the 2020 Judith Wright Poetry Prize

Established in 2007 and supported by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation, the Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize seeks outstanding poetry from new and emerging writers.

This year’s stellar judges, Bonny Cassidy, Bella Li, Anne-Marie Te Whiu and Toby Fitch (who is also Overland’s poetry editor) read over 900 entries before selecting a shortlist of just eight outstanding works – including poetry from emerging poets such as Sara Saleh, Harry Reid and Declan Fry. The judges then chose four unforgettable poems to place 1st, 2nd and 3rd in this year’s prize. The competition was so fierce this year that the judges chose two poems to share 3rd place! 

Overland, the judges and the Malcolm Robertson Foundation are thrilled to announce the final results of the 2020 Judith Wright Poetry Prize. Congratulations to the following poets.

First place ($6000)

Sara Saleh

‘Border Control: Meditations’

Colonial violence extends to everything – our presence, our absence, how we love, how we leave – it undercuts our sense of self, but in the meditative there is relief, an unmitigated refusal to give this violence power.

Sara M Saleh is the daughter of migrants from Palestine, Egypt, and Lebanon, living on Gadigal land. A campaigner, writer, and poet, Sara’s work has been published in English and Arabic, and she co-edited the anthology Arab-Australian-Other. Sara received the 2021 Peter Porter Poetry Prize, and is developing her debut novel.

Second place ($2000)

Brooke Scobie

‘Bidjigal Double Brick Dreaming’

Inspired by the work of the estimable Samuel Wagan Watson, ‘Bidjigal Double Brick Dreaming’ is a reminiscence of Brooke’s childhood in 1990s Bankstown when her Nan was still alive, still yelling at her Pa down in the Granny flat.

Brooke Scobie is a queer Goorie woman, single mum, emerging writer, and community worker. She was born and bred on Bidjigal country in south west Sydney and now lives on Darkinjung land. Brooke is most passionate about telling stories that centre on identity, love and family using the imagery of country.

Third place ($500)

Frances Libeau

‘sea-tree emblem’

‘sea-tree emblem’ probes at a haunted ecosystem of transcultural postcolonial memory (or lack thereof), spinning through a network of entangled violences, madnesses and mythologies.

Frances Libeau is a queer Pākehā writer and sound artist living in Aotearoa. Their words appear in Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2021 (for which they placed second in poetry), OscenPantograph Punch and more. Libeau’s sonic compositions feature in interdisciplinary collaborations with artists worldwide. Their first book will be published in 2022.


Third place ($500)

Harry Reid

‘Book of Hours’


Harry Reid is a poet based in Melbourne. They are a co-director of
Sick Leave, and the author of the best way to destroy an enemy is to make
him a friend
 (Puncher & Wattmann, 2021).


new-MRF-logo-2015-300x221The Judith Wright Poetry Prize is supported by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation




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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