No poem today, but I thought I’d share information about some great poetry prizes.

Firstly, the Australian Catholic University has a competition on the theme ‘Loving Kindness’. When I first heard the theme, I was less than rapt, but the more I thought about it, the more a poem wriggled out from between the words, until it demanded to be penned in the seedy corral of a poem.  This contest is open to Australian citizens, permanent residents, and overseas students studying in Australia.  Here is the link. Closes early June. There is a nice, really well catered, ceremony held in Melbourne at which the (generous) prizes for this are awarded.  I was placed third last year and read my poem there.  A book of entries was produced too.  Entry is $20.  And, no, you don’t have to be Catholic, or of any other religion (although you can be!).

Secondly (and this one is open to all poets writing in English) there is the University of Canberra Vice Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize.  There is no theme for this one. Again, there are great prizes, including a tidy $15,000 for the first place getter. However, some may quite reasonably baulk at the entry fees for these prestigious competitions ($20).  There is a discounted rate for university students, and there is also a separate free competition for students in Year 11 and 12 at an ACT or NSW school.  There are also cash prizes for this one, and ‘winners will be invited to attend the IPSI Poetry on the Move festival where they will be invited to read their poem and a chance to meet some excellent poets.’  And possibly some mediocore ones!  That is not compulsory though.

There is yet another competition being offered through the University of Canberra too.  This is the Health Poetry Prize, which is only open to Australians, and the poems must be on the theme of ‘Living Life Well’, which also sounded vaguely off-putting to me at first glance, until I noticed that the poem could also deal with barriers to ‘Living Life Well’.  So there is no need to use that foul word ’empowerment’…This one is $10 to enter, and seems like a great initiative.

Of course, everyone who has ever written a poem in English, and their more literate pets, will enter the international Uni of Canberra one, which makes it the most competitive.  (Given that ‘everyone’ has a credit card with at least $20 left on it.) These things are a bit of a lottery (however well qualified the judges are), but if you get a decent poem out of the process, it may be worth it.

My own view of poetry competitions is that if the topic catches my eye, I’ll have a go, but I won’t force a poem out because there is a competition.  I have written about the whole economy of competitions elsewhere.  (At Overland.)

Have fun!



I recently competed in an interesting competition run by a Canadian journal, Contemporary Verse 2.  They give a list of ten words, and punters (who must have pre-registered) have two days to create a poem which contains every word.  I sometimes like doing this type of thing as it stops me from falling in a rut, and if the result is less than wonderful, it doesn’t really matter.

I was very pleased to receive an honourable mention, particularly as I found myself writing about cockatoos; hardly something that the average Canadian would see stripping the bark from maple trees on a daily basis, or resting on the antlers of moose.  Actually I know that Canada, like Australia, is overwhelmingly urban, so please excuse my tired and narrow stereotypes. (Is there such a thing as a vibrant and broad stereotype?) Here in Canberra cockatoos are as common as sparrows.  If not commoner, which is remarkable given how many foreign birds have been released in this country over the past 200 years.

I won’t put the poem up here, as I can’t remember if I granted exclusive e-rights for a time to CV2 (probably not) but here is a link to the poem about cockatoos, imaginatively entitled ‘Cockatoos‘.

Muse with beak

Reading the other poems is fascinating; they are so good that I forgot that they had to contain the magic ten words.  And the other poems were mostly urban.

Really urban, not Canberra urban.