Announcing the 2022 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 2023 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, Pam Brown, Toby Fitch and Lachlan Brown. 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:

Chris Brown

‘New terms for timeless behaviours’

Notes in and around work.

Chris Brown lives in Bega where he works as an English teacher. His collection, hotel universo, was published in 2020 with Puncher & Wattmann and shortlisted for the Mary Gilmore Award. He edits the annual Slow Loris poetry series.

Geraldine Burrowes

‘intimate textures of toppling times’

This poem clings to a recent dream and memories of childhood as it life-rafts among today’s shocks.

Geraldine Burrowes’ writing was shortlisted for the David Harold Tribe and the Helen Anne Bell Poetry Bequest awards. Earlier works were shortlisted for the Judith Wright Poetry Prize and Highly Commended in the Venie Holmgren and Tom Collins Prizes. Her collection, pick up half under, was published by Rabbit.

Jake Goetz

‘Coastal heath collage’

Written during a walk on Gweagal land in Kamay National Park, this 3-part poem collages thoughts / observations / memories / found texts to interrogate the intersection of colonisation, environmental exploitation, and the (im)possibilities of writing ‘ecopoetry’ as a settler-Australian.

Jake Goetz has published one collection of poetry, meditations with passing water (Rabbit, 2018). His second collection, Unplanned Encounters: Poems 2015-2020 (Apothecary Archive) is forthcoming in 2023. He is a DCA candidate at the Writing & Society Research Centre (WSU) and is the Reviews Editor at Plumwood Mountain

Lesh Karan

‘tinnitus as hushing haibun’

‘tinnitus as hushing haibun’ plays on the form of the haibun, where the words (thus the sounds) fade out from the page to transition from the prose part to the haiku, where the remaining words imply the speaker’s agency in an uncontrollable situation.

Lesh Karan is a Naarm/Melbourne-based poet and essayist. Recent publications include Admissions (a Red Room poetry anthology), Best of Australian Poems 2022Australian Poetry Journal, Cordite, Island, Mascara and Rabbit, amongst others. Lesh is currently completing a Master of Creative Writing, Publishing and Editing. She’s of Fiji Indian heritage.

Yeena Kirkbright

‘Camperdown Grief Junk’

There is something peaceful and humbling in the knowledge that it only takes 150 years for your grave to become a toilet for dogs.

Yeena is a Wiradjuri poet who grew up in Central West New South Wales. She is now blessed to live and work on Dharug and Gadigal lands in Sydney. She has been a recipient of Sweatshop’s All About Women of Colour emerging writers mentorship program for women and non-binary First Nations, culturally and linguistically diverse writers and a runner-up in the Kuracca Prize for Australian Literature. Her poetry has appeared in several literary journals.

Abbra Kotlarczyk

‘VIRIDITAS / little big scrub poem’

This poem, an elegy and polemic in double line sets of irregular stanzas, draws parallels between the treatment of queer and ecological entities, as set against the backdrop of the Big Scrub region of Northern NSW: an area shaped by natural abundance and decimation where the poet/speaker returns home to.

Abbra Kotlarczyk was raised on Bundjalung Country in the subtropical ruins of a decommissioned banana plantation. She makes art, curates, reads, writes, edits, parents and gardens. Her poetry has appeared in Australian Poetry’s ‘Best of Australian Poems 2021’, Cordite Poetry Review, un Magazine, Lieu Journal, Island Magazine, Minarets and elsewhere.

Image credit: Kenneth Suico 2022

Shaine Melrose

‘Soft Fruit’

Soft Fruit is about the vulnerable teen’s metamorphosis into adulthood, at a time of no mobile phones, when experience and secrets weigh heavily as one grapples with their truth and the outcome of revealing all, face to face with a childhood friend.

Shaine Melrose is a queer, emerging poet and retired gardener living in the Adelaide hills. Whilst challenged with disabling chronic illness, Shaine likes to perform and grow things, especially vegetables. Nature is solace. You can read Shaine’s work in APJ12.1Bramble Journal, Cordite, and Saltbush Review.

Image credit: Ron Weatherhead

Panda Wong

‘blah opus’

‘blah opus’ is a poem about air conditioning, working in the anthropocene and the ‘blah’.

Panda Wong is a poet who lives on unceded Wurundjeri land. With a focus on friendship, her practice circles around the void. Her first chapbook angel wings dumpster fire was released in 2022, followed by her first EP salmon cannon me into the abyss, a collaboration with multiple friends.

Image credit: George Downing

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

The Judith Wright Poetry Prize is supported by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation

Editorial Team


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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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