‘Crown of Stars’ wins third prize in the Banjo

Lovely news: my poem Crown of Stars has just been awarded third prize in the Open Poetry section of the Banjo Paterson Writing Awards, run by Central West Libraries in Orange, New South Wales (writing as Jo Mills ~ details of other poems can be found in the Awards and Publications sections of my blog, including Walyunga and Orpheus, in the Desert, which won the Banjo in 2008 and 2011 respectively, and Ledge Beach, which placed third in 2009).

This year’s place in the Awards is particularly pleasing (and to me, funny), since I’ve been mostly focused on novels. So much so, that I had nothing ‘right’ to enter in the Banjo this year (which is for poems with an Australian theme, flavour or content). Crown of Stars ‘arrived’ as a stream of consciousness onto the screen two days before the entries closed. This meant I had to express post the poem (ordinary post taking three days from Western Australia to New South Wales). Unfortunately, I managed to just miss the post from my nearest post office, so found myself driving down the hill through peak hour traffic  to get to a larger post office before close of business…and having a good laugh at myself along the way!

When I passed this tale on to the convenor yesterday, she said ‘It’s good to see such a high level of commitment’.

Ah, the joys of poetry! Thank you, dear Muse. I love you.

The results can be found here. I’m looking forward to reading the first and second prize winners when they are published on the Library’s website. You can read my poem below:


 Crown of Stars

desert wind at night
strands silt-lines     
colour of blood
she walks     
gathers velvet wings
so old     
only the land remembers
how her bones      
were carved
in wandjina days     
her face painted
crowns of stars on walls     
ochre stains
this town of ghosts     
casts sentinel shadows
iron corrugations rust     
salt of the earth
sand runs snakes on wind     
no roads
left under wedgetail shadows     
no sky
colour of blood     
in this darkness
she walks     
crescent sliver silvering
Isis of the south     
searches dust-storms
this empty doorway     
free-standing recalcitrant
carries silhouettes     
trick of the eye she fancies
stoops under the lintel     
finds velvet wings
flutter round the lamps     
grey moth-spirals
as her memories     
ephemeral bodies
relinquish names     
they dwelt here
gone now
chased their tracks     
colour of blood
veiled stubborn human prints     
land remembers
older days     
tall shapes
roamed unformed hills
desert wind at night     
into waiting arms
she walks     
her face painted     
gathers velvet wings

13 thoughts on “‘Crown of Stars’ wins third prize in the Banjo

  1. So beautiful, Joanna! 🙂 I had little idea (blush) that you were a writer and published too. I guess I’ve been so focused on Canada and writing my own articles that I haven’t had too much chance to pay attention elsewehere. Hearty congratulations, sweet friend. Feathers in your cap as well as at your shoulder blades. 😀


    • Dear Susan, thank you so much! No need to blush…it is no small thing keeping up with the doings of our multi-talented FB friends…and I didn’t know you write articles! You’re a wonder! Hugs xo 🙂


  2. Hi Jo, just now getting to my long list of email notifications….over two hundred of them (!!), but I couldn’t miss out on joining the applause on your poetry. Lovely. I’m so pleased that you caught that last mail drop to NSW! 🙂


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