Judith Wright Poetry Prize ($9000)

2020 prize is closed and will re-open in 2021

Judges: Bella Li, Bonny Cassidy, Anne-Marie Te Whiu and Toby Fitch


About the prize

Established in 2007 and supported by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation, the Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize for New and Emerging Poets seeks outstanding poetry by writers who have published no more than one collection of poems under their own name (i.e. writers who’ve had zero collections published, or one solo collection published). It remains one of the richest prizes for emerging poets, and is open to poets anywhere in the world.

In 2020, the major prize is $6000, with a second prize of $2000 and a third prize of $1000. All three winners will be published in the first issue of Overland’s print magazine of 2021.


The competition closes 11.59 pm Friday 20 November 2020. Please read the entry guidelines below to confirm eligibility.

Entry fee: $12 for subscribers and $20 for non-subscribers.

**Another option is to take out one of our special prize subscriptions: for $56, you get discounted entry to the competition and a one-year discounted subscription to Overland (includes four print issues and the daily online magazine, invitations to subscriber events, and other opportunities and giveaways).

You may also be interested to read last year’s judges’ report and winning poems.



Anne-Marie Te Whiu was born and raised in Brisbane and belongs to Te Rarawa in Aotearoa. She is the co-editor of Solid Air: Australian and New Zealand Spoken Word (University of Queensland Press) and was co-director of the Queensland Poetry Festival from 2015 to 2017. She is a poet, weaver and cultural producer, currently working as a Senior Project Manager at Red Room Poetry and resides on Dharawal Country.

Bella Li‘s first book, Argosy (Vagabond Press, 2017) won both the Victorian and NSW Premier’s Literary Awards for Poetry. Her second book, Lost Lake (Vagabond Press, 2018) was shortlisted for the QLD Literary Award for Poetry. She holds a PhD from The University of Melbourne, where she teaches literature and creative writing. She is also a freelance editor, and the Associate Publisher at Cordite Books. She lives on Wurundjeri land.

Dr Bonny Cassidy is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Chatelaine (Giramondo, 2017), shortlisted for the 2018 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. For five years Bonny was Reviews Editor for Cordite Poetry Review and in 2016 she co-edited the anthology, Contemporary Australian Feminist Poetry. She lectures in Creative Writing at RMIT University and lives on Dja Dja Wurrung lands in central Victoria.

Toby Fitch is Overland’s poetry editor and the poet behind RawshockBloomin’ Notions, and Where Only the Sky had Hung Before. He has new essays and poems out in Meanjin, Minarets, Red Room, Cordite and The Australian. He lives on unceded Gadigal land.



All three finalists will be published in Overland 242, autumn 2021.

  1. The award is open to poets who have had no more than one solo collection of their work commercially published: that is, by a publishing house with commercial distribution.
  2. The prize is open to Australian and international writers.
  3. Poems must be unpublished (including online) and not under consideration by other publishers, including Overland.
  4. Poems that have won or are under consideration in other competitions are not eligible.
  5. The winning poems will be published in Overland.
  6. All submitted poems may also be considered for publication in Overland.
  7. Entries must be submitted electronically via the Overland submittable system.
  8. The name of the poet must not appear on the manuscript (including the header or footer) since all poems will be considered anonymously.
  9. Poems must be no more than 80 lines.
  10. Multiple entries are permitted, though a separate fee applies to each poem.
  11. An entry fee of $12 for Overland subscribers and $20 for non-subscribers will be charged. It is possible to become a subscriber and simultaneously enter the competition at a special price of $56.
  12. Please ensure you are satisfied with your poem before submitting. Poems that are withdrawn and subsequently resubmitted will incur a second fee.
  13. The judges’ decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into.
  14. Overland staff and board members are prohibited from entering. All previous, current and ongoing contributors are eligible to enter.
  15. Winners will be announced in February 2021. Subscribe to the Overland email bulletin to receive announcements as to the results.

A final note on this year’s guidelines: 

The Overland editorial team have decided to include an additional question for entrants upon submission of their work. While we uphold the integrity of the blind judging process, it often places limitations on judges to properly assess the nature of a submission. Entries which speak directly to the experiences of marginalised or vulnerable communities are often difficult to assess with no knowledge as to whether the author has the relevant experience or cultural authority. It can be an agonising process for a judge to decide whether a piece is appropriate for publication when experience or identities are assumed or guessed. We want to encourage imaginative and provocative submissions without creating an additional burden for our judges, or potentially restricting the selection of sensitive pieces. 

As such, this year entrants will be asked to answer the following question: 

If your entry takes up the voice or experience of a marginalised or vulnerable identity, do you identify yourself as being a part of that community or experience? For instance, if your piece is written in the voice of an Aboriginal person, are you Aboriginal? etc. 

Your response to this question is not mandatory, and your response will only be visible to internal editors, unless our judges request to know your response after the consideration of a piece.

Enter the Judith Wright Poetry Prize as a:

new subscriber – $56

(Includes $12 entry fee and $44 subscription)
Poets can subscribe to Overland for one year (four issues) at a discounted rate, and enter the competition at the special subscriber rate. Take out a new subscription and enter the Judith Wright Poetry Prize.


current subscriber – $12

Current Overland subscribers enter the competition at the special subscriber rate of $12. Current subscribers enter the competition here.


non-subscriber – $20

Entry to the competition for non-subscribers is $20. Non-subscribers enter the competition here.


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