A new home for avant-garde poetry

Since 1954, Overland has been at the avant-garde of poetry publishing in Australia, featuring aesthetically and politically challenging work by a diverse range of poets, while unearthing new poets. In more recent years, the Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize for New and Emerging Poets and the Nakata Brophy Prize have furthered Overland’s commitment to fostering new voices. Many of the poets discovered in these annual prizes have become regular contributors to the journal and the broader literary ecosphere. 

With the advent of Overland’s new website, readers will soon gain free access to all the poems ever published in our print magazine, from this very early gem of a calligram, or shape poem (which is also a lament and a protest poem), ‘Song of the A-bomb’ by Nancy Cato, from the July issue of 1956: 

Song of the A-bomb

Suffer, little children

to come unto me, in disintegrated

p a r t i c l e s   o f   r a d i o a c t i v e  dust;

children of HIroshima, with the smoke and fire,

heavenward     ascending     in    a    glorious   blast.

They who gathered mushrooms on autumn hillsides,

who  did  their  morning  exercises,  singing  happily,

have left

the earth

behind them

and in a



risen to

the cruel sky

where  heaven  used  to  be.


And the environmental work of poets like Coral Hull, who is worth revisiting: 

she-oaks in the grey mist were roaring like trains 

the she-oaks in the grey mist were roaring like trains,

on a still day, they will pick up the slightest breeze,

the land is talking, a train approaching from all directions,

she-oaks, a few left standing in a grey winter field,

if you stand long enough to listen to the roar,

a paddock of she-oaks on the way to deniliquin,

dirty grey bark and when there were trees on the land,

many she-oaks and grey box and dry sclerophyll forest,

there would have been many levels of roaring,

liberate yourself by walking in a paddock off the highway

past the crown land and stock route, keep going in order to die,

the she-oaks are out there, talking to each other,

beyond recognition, the mist rain gently hanging, filtering,

to the point of saturation, dropping down through them, 

the large black ants are wriggling slowly, hiding in their holes,

are clicking their iron bodies, brassy antennas and legs,

deep in timelessness, red holes in the red dirt,

listen to wind roaring through the victorian she-oaks,

like a train approaching from all directions,

whilst you remain in awe of the cold and directionless,

the distance is helping you along, off the cobb highway

away from your vehicle, into paddocks of roaring she-oaks,

sending you further in, upon your strange watery approach 


This poem appeared in issue #154 from 1999, an issue that, in addition to the usual selection of poems in the print journal, included a special poetry feature edited by former poetry editor Pam Brown, with excellent essays on and poems by 4 poets – Coral Hull alongside John Forbes, Adam Aitken and Judith Wright. Among Wright’s poems in that issue was the republication of ‘At Cooloolah’, an important poem about land, possession and the colonial gaze, always worth returning to. 


I discuss the poem in the introduction to a new anthology of poetry that Overland will publish very soon – Groundswell: The Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize for New and Emerging Poets 2007–2020, a historical anthology of 40 poets who won or placed in the prize, and which also contains a slew of other poems of theirs, showing off their development since featuring in the prize. It’s a wild and exciting book of poetry, and I’m looking forward to its release. For today, though, here’s a peak at the front cover: 

Like with prize entries, access to the print journal and other special features, subscribers to Overland will receive discounts on this new anthology!

In solidarity,
Toby Fitch
Poetry editor

So, how does Subscriberthon work? Anyone who subscribes, renews, donates or gives a gift subscription this week goes into three prize draws – Major Prizes, Daily Prizes and Regional Prizes – for the chance to win some truly terrific prizes, including a state-of-the-art turntable, drinks and vinyl pairings, a point-and-shoot vintage camera, a 6-month coffee subscription, digital literature workshops, event and exhibition passes, wine, mountains of books, subscriptions and more!

Take me to the subscription options at once!

Today’s prize:

Work of Art


A beautiful ‘Coral’ archival pigment print by Matt Chun

A copy of Anne Barnetson‘s Customer Service Wolf and a gorgeous sketch

A limited edition print by cartoonist Sam Wallman

A stunning hardback copy of The Goddess and the City: Kali and Kolkata by Tess Rice (Transit Lounge)

A $30 Bookshop by Uro voucher

A subscription to Going Down Swinging

Subbed In sticker pack and collection of titles including:

When I Die Slingshot My Ashes Onto The Surface Of The Moon by Jennifer Nguyen

Uncle Hercules And Other Lies edited by Patrick Lenton

Haunte (The Koolie) by Jason Gray

Parenthitcal Bodies by Alex Gallagher

Wheeze by Marcus Whale

A one-year subscription to Crikey

Clothing the Gaps sticker pack


Major prizes


Major Prize One
Record Rewind


What’s in this major prize?

An absolutely state-of-the-art Audiotechnica turntable from Vinyl Revival

A $50 Vinyl Revival voucher 

A mind-blowing vinyl and beer pairing from Funky Duck Vinyl:

Both Sides of the Sky (Beach Boys) + Blackbilly Sangiovese 

3 x $30Bookshop by Uro vouchers to

Clothing the Gaps sticker pack

✎ ✐

Major Prize Two
Next Big Adventure

What’s in this major prize?

A vintage Yashica point-and-shoot camera from Film Never Die.

5 rolls of Ultramax 400 35mm film

A two-year international subscription to adventure travel magazine Overland Journal

A beautiful ‘Coral’ archival pigment print by Matt Chun

Clothing the Gaps sticker pack

Regional prizes

☟ ▼ ❣ ▼ ☛


Australian Capital Territory


A one-year membership to the National Gallery of Australia

A bottle of Noisy Ritual Geelong Pinot

A one-year subscription to Crikey

These excellent Affirm titles:

Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald

The Lost Boys by Paul Byrnes

Shirl by Wayne Mashall

The Green Bell by Paula Keogh

Wayfinding by M.R. O’Connor

A $30 Bookshop by Uro voucher 

Clothing the Gaps sticker pack

A collection of Giramondo titles, including:

Beneath the Tree Line by Jane Gibian

Nothing to See by Pip Adam

Homer Street by Laurie Duggan

Nostalgia Has Ruined My Life by Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle


✎ ✐

New South Wales


Three pottery classes at The Pottery Shed in Surry Hills

A one-year membership to the NSW Writers Centre

A bottle of Noisy Ritual Geelong Pinot

A one-year subscription to Crikey

A subscription to ABR

Clothing the Gaps sticker pack

A stunning Cordite collection including:

Slowlier by Ella O’Keefe

Entries by Prithvi Varatharajan

Wings by Catherine Vidler

Look! by Alex Selenitsch

Crankhandle by Alan Loney

✎ ✐

Northern Territory


A one-year membership to the NT Writers Centre

A bottle of Noisy Ritual Geelong Pinot

A one-year subscription to Crikey

A copy of Aniko Press Issue 2: Revolt 

A $30 Bookshop by Uro voucher 

Clothing the Gaps sticker pack

A collection of UQP titles, including:

How to make a basket by Jazz Money

A Kinder Sea by Felicity Plunket

Ask me About the Future by Rebecca Jessen

A Thousand Crimson Blooms by Eileen Chong

✎ ✐



A $50 drinks voucher and game tokens at Netherworld

2 x $50 voucher to Avid Reader (to be spent in store or online)

A one-year membership to Queensland Writers Centre

A beautiful ‘Coral’ archival pigment print by Matt Chun

A one-year subscription to Crikey

Clothing the Gaps sticker pack

The following excellent Transit Lounge titles:

Night Blue by Angela O’Keeffe

The One That Got Away by Ken Haley

The Stoning by Peter Papathanasiou

Travelling Companions by Antoni Jach

Chasing the McCubbin by Sandi Scaunich

✎ ✐

South Australia


A double pass to paint and drink with a friend at Pinot & Picasso 

A one-year membership to Writers SA

A bottle of Noisy Ritual Geelong Pinot

A one-year subscription to Crikey

Clothing the Gaps sticker pack

A $30 Bookshop by Uro voucher 

The following Transit Lounge titles:

The Rock by Aaron Smith

Tussaud: We Could Cheat Death Itself by Belinda Lyons-Lee

Revenge Murder in Three Parts by S.L. Lim

Navigable Ink by Jennifer Mackenzie

A Voice In The Night by Sarah Hawthorn

✎ ✐



A one-year membership to TasWriters

A copy of Aniko Press Issue 2: Revolt 

A bottle of Noisy Ritual Geelong Pinot

A one-year subscription to Crikey

A $30 Bookshop by Uro voucher 

Clothing the Gaps sticker pack

A fabulous collection of UWA poetry and P&W titles, including:

Case notes by David Stavanger

Boots by Nadia Rhook

Hope Blossoming in Their Ink by Juan Garrido-Salgado

Nothing to Declare by Mags Wesbter

Dead bolt by Ella Jeffery

✎ ✐



2 x Melbourne Cinémathèque mini passes and a takeaway coffee cup

Melbourne Djembe West African Dance and Drum class pass x 2

A one-year membership to Writers Victoria

$30 North Melbourne Books voucher

Clothing the Gaps sticker pack

A fresh fruit and veg box from The Flying Zucchinis, delivered to your door!

Drink vouchers for the Alderman

Tickets to the NGV Melbourne Art Book Fair

A massive collection of Ultimo Press titles

✎ ✐

Western Australia


A one-year subscription to Westerly

A one-year subscription to Crikey

A $30 Bookshop by Uro voucher 

Clothing the Gaps sticker pack

A bottle of Noisy Ritual Geelong Pinot

The following enviable titles from Fremantle Press:

Vociferate by Emily Sun

Poems That Do Not Sleep by Hassan Al Nawwab

Locust summer by David Allan-Petale

Eye of a rook by Josephine Taylor

Skimming stones by Maria Papas

A collection of Cordite titles including:

Vociferate by Emily Sun

Poems That Do Not Sleep by Hassan Al Nawwab

Locust summer by David Allan-Petale

✎ ✐

New Zealand


An incredible collection of titles from Canterbury University Press, including:

Ten Acceptable Acts of Arson, and other very short stories by Jack Remiel Cottrell

Polynesia, 900-1600 by Madi Williams

Llew Summers: Body and soul by John Newton

Merchant, Miner, Mandarin by Jenny Sew Hoy Agnew and Trevor Agnew

A Garage Projects Starter 12-pack 

A bottle of Noisy Ritual Geelong Pinot

Clothing the Gaps sticker pack

A one-year subscription to Crikey

A copy of Aniko Press Issue 2: Revolt 

Take me to the subscription options at once!


Read all about our incredible sponsors here!

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

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.

Related articles & Essays

Contribute to the conversation

  1. Neat trick for the avant garde to remain avant garde. Which poem pulls it off better? Think the last line lets the first piece down, whereas the second, sans definitive full stop, allows trains of thought to run on through stations of current and future enviro crises

  2. dear editors
    you say you will make poems printed in overland
    available to all in digital
    i for one OBJECT to this retrospective acquisition
    and neglect of my COPYRIGHT that was given
    to a paper MAGAZINE and not to a DIGITAL life
    you have no right to print anything of mine
    WITHOUT my permission
    love + anarchy

    1. Hi TT.O.
      Thanks for your engagement. The printed journals in our historical archive are simply being scanned rather than re-published per se— to transform what Overland already has copyright over into a freely available cultural and educational resource, in line with our commitment to radically democratic literary politics. We’re happy to discuss this project with you further however, and if necessary to arrange the redaction of any work you would prefer not to be shared.

  3. re-When i submitted my poems to Overland in the past, it was for the purposes of hard copy — not for the sake of some mystical juice — the copyright that Overland had over my poetry was NOT for any other project, or purpose, or re-transmission, especially in another media / medium altogether. For example a project where Overland thinks it appropriate to have an avatar “reading my poems”, or where it thinks it does not matter to the poetics to have an INFINITE frame around the FINITE frame of a magazine around my notion of what a poem should appear as. Nor has it a right to re-package me into anything bar what was proposed at the time. Hiding behind your noble purpose to make available all or any of my work without permission & or all the other’s work is an editorial arrogance i suggest akin to “Lording over one’s estate”. Re-jigging the terms of your “rights” over my copyright RETROSPECTIVELY i consider an infringement, as well as insensitive to “cultural workers” work. If Overland is to be “of” the Left, then surely some respect is required, and not some “proclamation” of transgression. This “democratization” of my labour, i find difficult to swallow. Let democratize a Plumbers labour also. I know most think it a great idea to get “more” exposure etc, and would gladly give it away FREE cos it’ll be “GOOD FOR YOUR REPUTATION” but altho i do and have given my poetry away over 5 decades, i’ll be blowed to have have it mandated. I’m not particularly interested in making money out of poetry (i’ve got enough coffee money for the rest of my life now, being retired) but slighting our cultural “work” willynilly does not do belong here. I’ve seen quite a few other “onliners” “presume” “their” archive “theirs” — i have NOT and DO NOT agree to have my work from hard copy OVERLAND (that had a known print run) flooded onto the Universe and thereby destroying the politics and poetics of my poems
    love + anarchy

    1. Hi TT.O,

      Thanks for your insights. For your awareness ours is not the only digitisation of previous historic editions (Meanjin, for example) and and full collections of Overland are held in various libraries and personal collections – I believe many have actually been digitised for libraries and research projects over the years. Some of our readers are vision impaired and the digitisation project emerged out of consultation with our board, disability advocates as well as several Overland affiliated writers and academics to ensure that everyone will be able to read Overland if they do wish it. Where possible we will be seeking contact with authors when we begin the process of uploading archival editions. We’ll be starting with the 50s so it might take a while to get to yours but we will make contact before hand to arrange redaction. As we’ll be uploading them as text-sensitive and image-described PDFs for accessibility purposes they will be blocked out within those documents.

      I apologise if this news has caused you distress – it has been in the works for some time now and was announced on social media and on our website but of course that doesn’t necessarily ensure complete public awareness. The process of uploading these documents will include further consultation and dialogue in the next year. While we aim to ensure that we are doing our appropriate duty as current custodians of Overland we of course understand that not everyone wishes to have their work available for the current public gaze. We frequently receive requests for pdf’s of digital copies of historic editions from researchers and I’d you’d rather we don’t provide any material you’re included in we can make a note of that. Unfortunately I don’t believe we’d be able to do anything about other institutions (libraries, universities etc) with digital copies of your works through Overland.

      If you’d like to discuss this further you can contact either Jonathan or myself. My email is evelyn@overland.org.au and Jonathan’s is jonathan@overland.org.au

  4. dear evelyn et al
    appeals to the “vision impaired” i find particularly interesting;
    its like those “bargains” so many make eg “I hope you don’t mind if i’m sexist cos i don’t want to be racist”, or “I hope you don’t mind me being racist cos i don’t want to be Unpatriotic”, or “I hope you don’t mind me infringing your copyright, cos i want to be Democratic”, or “I hope you don’t mind me digitalising everything cos i don’t want to offend the vision impaired. Playing one against the other is crazy! If you don’t want to offend the vision impaired do what one of your editors once did namely Barrett Reid when he “asked” poets “permission” to include them in libraries for the “blind” etc – not for everyone, but a “gentle exception” which i’m sure noone objected to. — how a poem and where (and even when) a poem is transmitted is of major concern to poets – the number of words per line for example. To most “prose” writers this is of NO importance but to poets (like me?) it is something to consider, and of concern. Those poems of mine in Overland mark an “era” a “time” and a “medium” i.e. on paper, and if they are to be “resuscitated” then a NEW agreement should be made – Just because “others” digvitize their collections is NO reason for you to – remember Overland is suppose to be “different” i.e. have a political awarness about it – what disappoints me is that doesn’t seem to have a “poetics” about it (yes, i know poets are a real pain in the neck!). How can begin to declare Overland the new home of the “avant-garde” when some of its major “aesthetic” concerns are allowed to be overrun by simplistic politics, and prose-centred militia?
    Yes, i would like to discuss it further, but not behind closed doors
    stay safe
    lov e + anarchy

  5. its a shame to hear your “beewax” comment re the copyright issue — if the “message” in the “medium” is already there then obviously it satisfies bureaucrats but not poets or its verious poetics — the avant garde does NOT and CANNOT have a stable “home” — to presume you can and will “settle” it [“settler culture”?] i find arrogance and ignorant — to claim it is going to be a “harmless nu variant” sounds like a contradiction to ANY definition of an avant garde — to try and “harness” [nay] CONTROL it sounds more like a Trotsky van gardism — a bit more imagination me thinks is required at Overland
    stay safe
    love + anarchy

  6. put it this way – you are a well credentialed poet – one whom i have always admired – and do still – regardless of your unwillingness to move your poem from print to a an overland online medium – one where many younger readers and poets will feel more at home perhaps – so your poem will be read and enjoyed all over again by younger and older audiences alike – just go along with it – you have more to gain and nothing to lose – and will give renewed pleasure to all readers

    my regards always

  7. the issue is how it is recieved and presented — and the damage it does to the poetry — let me damage your poetry cos its good for your exposure = bad bargain — swapping one medium for another is not the same like it appears to be for prose — the arrangement and medium in which a poem is presented is important — shakespeare on the STAGE is NOT the same as shakespeare on the PAGE — the avant garde know this — YOOZ obviously don’t — i am particularly interested in the “digitalization” of poetics and i am NOT just being an old-foggy!!! My AGE has nothing to to with this, and neither should it as you suggest in your comments

    1. Hi again TT.O.

      We’re clearly operating according to contrary definitions here— of what the internet is, among other things. But regardless, as Evelyn and I have clearly said above, we’ll be— not happy precisely, given that it essentially means making some important poetry harder to find for many readers— but prepared to redact your work, and when we draw nearer to launching our archival project on our new site next year, we will get in touch with you to confirm that.


  8. as a dual citizen living in uk ,born in Australia, writing sparse poetry about time in outback and then uk ,the internet is a vital window ,to the world ,and it is necessary for all poets and poetry magazines to embrace it.

  9. dear expediency with the blinkered notion of i’m binary, i don’t have to follow YOUR preferences.
    dear deidre, there are other sources of “vital window”(s) apart from the internet — try hands on, face to face, on the shop floor, in the surround,…. rather than that “distant” accesss — all this is getting toooo stupid to keep arguing — no one is talking “poetics” certainly not overland – obviously in the too hard basket for this avant garde
    love + anarchy

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