Announcing the 2021 Judith Wright Poetry Prize shortlist

Established in 2007, Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize for new and emerging poets is supported by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation. Entrants must have no more than one collection of poems published under their own name. This year, the major prize is $6000, and second and third prize is $2000 and $1000 respectively. All three poets will be published in the autumn 2022 issue Overland.

We received over 600 entries from emerging poets all around the world. We’d like to thank all entrants for their imaginative work, and our judges, Grace Yee, Keri Glastonbury and Toby Fitch. They rose to the challenging task of reading and judging a diverse and exciting range of poems.

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

Congratulations to the following poets:


Ender Baskan

‘are you ready poem’

Living amidst the cultural and material ruins of late capitalism the poet issues a rallying cry for artists and writers to make something dangerous and start an artists and writers league as a radical alternative to precarity and professionalisation.

Ender Baskan is a writer, a bookseller and a co-founder of Vre Books press. He makes work that rages and desires for and against this absurd world those to come. His book A Portrait of Alice as a Young Man was published in 2019.

Christine Fontana

‘re: my last missive’

For a non-believer I’m having an awful lot of fun with Jesus lately; re: my last missive is both a lament and a playful critique of the not-so-fun history I was born into, and the not-so-fun impact it still has on the shape of our world.

Chris Fontana treads that fine line between torture and bliss, splitting her studio time between writing and fine art projects. Based in a Melbourne ghetto, she’s won and been shortlisted for a humble number of literary awards, and exhibited as a finalist in a number of art award exhibitions.

Jake Goetz

‘A message from the NRMA’

Driving south through Dharawal Country; a type of abstract expressionist anti-pastoral.

Jake Goetz’s first book of poetry, meditations with passing water (Rabbit, 2018), was shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Award in 2019. His second collection, Unplanned Encounters (Poems 2014–2020), is forthcoming with Apothecary Archive in late 2022/early 2023. He is a DCA candidate in Writing at WSU and the Reviews Editor at Plumwood Mountain.

Maddie Godfrey

‘Pretty Sick’

‘Pretty Sick’ inhabits an intersection of illness and desire; the invisibility of the persona’s chronic pain is scaffolded by the cinematic visibility of sexiness.

Maddie Godfrey is a writer, educator and emotional feminist. They are a previous recipient of the Kat Muscat Fellowship, the Varuna Poetry Flagship Fellowship and the 2021 WA Youth Award for ‘Creative Contributions’ to the state. Maddie lives on Whadjuk Noongar land with a rescue cat named Sylvia.

Gareth Morgan

‘the national debt’

‘the national debt’ is about what we want.

Gareth Morgan is the author of When a Punk Becomes a Spunk and co-director of Sick Leave.

Ursula Robinson-Shaw


love and doom are back!!

Ursula Robinson-Shaw is a writer living in Naarm. Her work has appeared in Overland, Cordite, Sydney Review of Books, Best Australian Poems, Best New Zealand Poems, and elsewhere. She is co-director of sick leave.

Lillian Rupcic


‘stones’ arises from the complex web that connects Lillian, her son and her disability, impressions on grief and pain, and echoes of this in nature.

Lillian Rupcic is a creative writer who lives with chronic pain and disability, on Peramangk land. She is passionate about poetry as a vessel for unravelling and becoming; writing is her bridge between intensely isolating, personal experiences and the outside world, an opening through which the invisible can be seen.

Tais Rose Wae

‘Reading Scribbly Gum’

I wrote ‘Reading Scribbly Gum’ from such tender, lucid realms just ten weeks after birthing my son, while longing for and dreaming of the ceremony through which I would soon introduce him to Country in the bush amongst the scribbly gums and ancestor spirits who had held us with so much love in guiding us to that very moment.

Tais Rose Wae is a widely published poet whose work explores maps of lineage, motherhood, and her Aboriginal ancestry. Her poetry is strongly influenced by and imbued with a connection to place, and has most recently been reimagined at the Biennale of Sydney and recognised amongst the Oodgeroo Noonuccal shortlist.

Sophia Walsh

‘Hide and Seek’

Lesbianism, NYC, Naarm, & always/never knowing what you want.

Sophia Walsh is a poet living in Naarm. Some of their work has appeared in Westerly, Cordite Poetry Review, No More Poetry’s *No No No Mag, and elsewhere.

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


new MRF logo-2015

The 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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