L to R: Prof Andrew Parfitt, Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Newcastle. Carol Jenkins, 2016 NPP judge, John Watson, 2016 NPP First Prize winner.
L to R: DVC Prof Andrew Parfitt, Ross Gillett, 2nd prize Newcastle Poetry Prize, Carol Jenkins, 2016 NPP judge
Rod Usher: "Significant prizes such as the NPP, with its long history, are of critical value, less for the money they offer than for the way they bring poetry to public attention, and as a filter of quality. The fact that this competition can attract judges of the stature of those for this year´s prize indicates that the Newcastle is one of the nation´s most important, and that the University of Newcastle is a leader in maintaining its support for it."
Brook Emery, winner, 1999: "It is my impression that the Newcastle Poetry Prize is still widely regarded as the most important poetry prize in Australia. I certainly think of it in this way."
Congratulations to the 2016 Newcastle Poetry Prize winners
Click to purchase the 2016 anthology
Sponsored by the University of Newcastle, the following prizes were awarded by Andrew Parfitt, Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Newcastle on 22nd October, 2016
First prize: $15 000
The Dangar Island Garbage Boat
Second prize: $5 000
Istán and Other Places
Third prize: $1 000
Caitlin Maling - February in Oregon
Paul Hetherington - Blanche and Henry
Local Award: Judy Johnson
Black Convicts (in Thirteen Syllables)
Harri Jones Memorial Prize (for a poet <35 years): Katie Mills
Hunter Writers Centre members' award: Anne Walsh
Wolves In the Cathedral
Click to read the NPP newsletter
Judy Johnson: "It has been my pleasure and privilege to be involved with the Newcastle Poetry Prize over the years in different ways, as a judge, as a sometimes prize winner and as a poet within the pages of various anthologies. The first time I was published as a result of the competition was in 1995. I will never forget the joy and awe I felt finding my little poem surrounded by the poems of Australia’s finest poets. That feeling of wonder and gratitude has not left me, and I am thrilled at winning a prize in this important competition in 2016 and being represented in the current anthology."
John Jenkins: "Influential, as well as instructive, the NPP has helped to lift standards across the entire literary spectrum, and generally raise awareness of creative excellence in this country. The NPP emphasises the importance of locally based arts, too. As well as having a national reach, while generating work of international standard; its firmly places Newcastle as a hub of excellence. Thus, and very adroitly, the NPP helps decentralize the arts, at the same time as it fosters and re-distributes very fine work across the writing landscape."
Ross Gillett: The crucial thing about the Newcastle is the encouragement it gives to the writing of long poems. To my knowledge it is the only poetry prize in Australia that allows for the submission of unpublished poems longer than 100 lines. The 200 line limit allows a poet to stretch out, to explore at length the possibilities of a narrative or meditative sequence, a dramatic monologue (or dialogue for that matter) or any other exploratory poetic mode. The publication of the prize anthology offers a rare opportunity for high quality longer form poems to be published, and the recognition of the winning poems by the granting of significant monetary prizes does a lot to reinforce the professional status of poetry as an art form capable of producing sustained original work.
Paul Hetherington: The Newcastle Poetry Prize represents a wonderful opportunity for Australian poets interested in writing longer poetic works and poetic sequences to have these works recognised and anthologised in the company of their most accomplished peers. The award honours and nurtures some of the bravest poems being written anywhere in the world and, in doing so, it accords poetry the place it deserves in our contemporary culture.
Poets and their poems selected for the 2016 Newcastle Poetry Prize anthology:
Blanche and Henry
Briefing: three posts
By Mesurado River
Declaration of the Rights of Rights
Distraction of Shrapnel
February in Oregon
Forms of Life
Four Meditations on Love
I do not think that they will sing to me
Istán and Other Places
John Monash in Gallipoli and France
Lines for Lyres
Ode to Household Urns
Point of View
Song for My Sister
The Common Room
The Dangar Island Garbage Boat
The Electric Journal
The Marriage of Evelyn White
The Problem of Russian Novels in the Desert
The Transportations of George Bruce
Ways of Flying out of Here
Wolves in the Cathedral
A. Frances Johnson
A Frances Johnson
Debi Hamilton, winner of the 2014 Newcastle Poetry Prize, spent her winnings on a month in Venice. Here is her Postcard from Venice:
Acquaalta and other fun things to do on a Monday.
The prize money allowed me to spend a month in Venice and slosh around in the tidal waters of an extraordinary city, getting drunk on history and spritz Campari.
The day started well before sunrise with an urgent alarm sounding over the whole city. A little searching of the internet in the dark revealed that the alarm was a warning system for the acquaalta – a phenomenon which filled me with a sense of adventure, but for the locals only filled their shoes and houses with the cold water of a flood tide.
What can I possibly say about this wonderful month? Grazie, for a start. What were the highlights? Renting an apartment in a city that is so ancient you don’t know how the building opposite your little writing room is still standing; discovering that restaurants could do things with seafood that were unforgettably good; asking, in appallingly amateurish Italian, for one of those orange drinks everyone seems to be knocking back on their way to work and falling in love with Campari; a whole month without cars; the sound of water against the wall outside in the night; the Peggy Guggenheim gallery; the outer islands of the lagoon; more art work than I could possibly digest; a whole month of never having to say my name; the delight and stimulation of trying to conduct my life in another language; walking for miles, riding the vaporetto for hours, having no appointments, being able to make each day up as it came. Oh, and the brightly-coloured overshoes I had to buy in order to wade through the acquaalta. I’ve brought them home. I’m ready for climate change.
Two further unexpected things occurred during that wonderful month. I didn’t write as much as I’d hoped, but quickly learned not to beat myself up - one of my writing friends put it beautifully when she said I was engaged in filling the well.
So, dear Hunter Writers Centre and University of Newcastle, mille grazie for the opportunity to replenish myself, refill the aquifer, put on several kilos, develop a new relationship with a lurid orange drink, write poems full of strange new things, and learn how to cope with the subtle rising water.
Poet Jean Kent, 2013 judge, interviewed by Karen Crofts, Director, Hunter Writers Centre (click 'play' below). Jean began by giving advice about what attracted the judges' attention and gives tips on entering the competition:
What makes an engaging poem? Jean discusses poetry. (click play)
Jean reads one of her poems (click play)