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!



Other one, moron

The state of the world weighing on your shoulders like last week’s albatross? What you need, my friend, is a good injection of humour.

You’d have to be Visually Impaired Freddy not to notice that humorous stories do not, in general, do as well in literary competitions as serious, sometimes even a little, um, dull ones. Here’s a competition that seeks to remedy that:

The Best of Times short story competition #14.

Here are the conditions of entry. Note that payment can be made by Paypal, and entries may be emailed, so people outside Australia have no excuse.

What to enter:
Humorous short stories (any theme) up to 2500 words.

First prize: $200, second prize: $50. (That’s AUD.)
Third place, highly commended and commended certificates will be awarded too.

Closing date:
31 Oct 2012.

Conditions of entry:
Entrants can enter as many times as they like.
Each story must be written in English and be the entrant’s own original work.
Stories that have won a prize or certificate in previous Best of Times or Winter Surprise competitions are ineligible for entry.
Entrants retain copyright and all rights to their work.

Postal entries:
No entry form is required. Include a cover sheet with your name and address, story title and word count, and where you heard about the
Entry fee is $6 per story. Send a cheque or money order made out to Chris Broadribb. Post your entry to PO Box 55, Blaxcell NSW 2142.
Include a large SSAE so that your story can be returned afterwards, along with a results sheet.

E-mailed entries:
Please provide your name and address, story title and word count, and where you heard about the competition.
Email your entry to
Entry fee is $6 per story. Use PayPal to pay

For an electronic copy of the results, please provide your email address.
Winners will be notified by email or post by December 2012.
The list of winners will be displayed on the competition website.
Winning stories will be published on the website if the authors agree.

Competition webpage (Popups)

The contest is organised and judged by Chris Broadribb. So tickle her. Pluck a feather from that albatross and tickle her like there’s no tomorrow. Which, I sometimes think…Oh shut up.

Hip hop before hip hop

November 22, 2011

Australia’s loss of frog species is, I believe, the worst in the world.  We have lost the gastric brooding frog.  The corroboree frog, a species that lives in the few really cold parts of the country, is the subject of directed conservation efforts, yet one wonders how it will cope with climate change.  Here is a flyer (hopper?) for a US frog poetry competition, because the problem isn’t confined to Australia. Click to enlarge.  Here’s their web-site. I have no connection with this group, but it seems like a good way of  encouraging people to think about conservation; I’m putting the poster up at my daughter’s school.

Following below is a poem about a wonderful night when I saw a road covered with frogs in a jumping carpet.  It is biologically inaccurate, but I tried to capture the sense of wonder that came with what seemed like a million frogs.  I wonder how long we will continue to see this type of natural phenomenon?

Frogs at Durras

We bought a house, feeble fibro shack,

walls thin as a yacht’s, teetering near the sea.

The second time we drove there, slowly,

tentatively, nosing towards ownership,

a rough jagged rain sawed through twilight.

We wondered if the house could survive.


Turning the corner, our eyes jumped,

jerked at a million tiny frogs revelling in rain,

the black streaming street a foaming river.

Each raindrop a watery egg, containing

tadpole, exploding into perfect frog

as it hit the tarmac, transmogrified.


I ran ahead of inching car, scooping throbbing fistfuls,

placing them on nature strip, dividing green from black.

And still they splashed and clung to sodden tar,

each splayed finger reading braille on the rough road;

indecipherable invitation to party, or to climb, perversely,

the dark warm curves of the sudden crushing car.


Three years later, we sit in heat, and await the frogs

never seen since the Walpurgis abandon, that abundant night.

Sometimes we have heard them, piping, tinkling, muted bells,

signalling to each other, chirruping reminders

as they wait beneath rocks, huddled in just damp dark

that all droughts must break.  Our house still stands.