2016 Poetry d’Amour ‘Summer of Love’ evening :-)

For those of you who live in Perth, Western Australia, or who may be in Perth on November 19th, all are welcome to an ‘evening of love poetry under the stars’, to be held in the Japanese Garden at the Perth Zoo from 7pm. My poem the sheet could be silk is a finalist for this year’s Poetry d’Amour Award, for which prizes will be given and the Summer of Love anthology launched on the night!¬†Hope to see you there. ūüôā



Details are available on the WA Poets Inc. website.


‘Emu Girl, on the day before flying’ wins the Banjo Paterson Awards 2016

It’s a delight and an honour to have heard that my poem ‘Emu Girl, on the day before flying’ has won the Open Poetry section of this year’s Banjo Paterson Writing Awards, which are run annually by Central West Libraries and Orange City Council. My gratitude goes to them, and to the judges of the award.

I first entered ‘the Banjo’ in 2008, and won it with ‘Walyunga’, followed by a second win in 2010 with ‘Orpheus, in the desert’, and several poems which placed for third prize in intervening years; ‘Ledge Beach’ in 2009, ‘Crown of Stars’ in 2012, and ‘Circle of Stones’ in 2013. This Award has become particularly close to my heart, and I’ve used it as a focus-point for inspiration to write poems that have a specific Australian element to them. This has often been a response to the presence and atmosphere of this ancient land that I love deeply, sometimes with a social or cultural aspect, and the interweaving of mythology.

‘Emu Girl, on the day before flying’ is a speculative (science fiction/fantasy) poem which takes a prominent group of stars visible in the night sky from Australia – the Southern Cross and the ‘Pointer’s, Alpha ¬†and Beta Centauri – and blends word etymology and the ancient Arabic names of the stars with the Aboriginal myth of Tchingal, the mighty Emu in the sky whose head rests in the Southern Cross and whose body stretches through the Centaurus constellation. The poem is ‘told’ from the point of view of an Alpha Centaurian ‘descendant’ on Earth, the Emu girl of the title, who recalls fragments of the invasion of her star system by smoke birds, and the battle of the two brave brothers, recounted in the Aboriginal stories as the Pointers, who fought to ward them off….until gradually the fragments weave together in the Emu girl’s awareness.

With thanks again to the judge(s), and congratulations to this year’s prize winners in all categories of the Banjo Paterson Writing Awards, of which a full list can be found here.


Alpha Centauri and Beta Centauri, from the Hubble telescope. Image courtesy NASA.

  Alpha Centauri and Beta Centauri, from the Hubble telescope. Image courtesy NASA.

KSP Poetry Award 2015 results

Last Sunday, December 6th, the results for several writing awards were announced, including the Katharine Susannah Pritchard Poetry Award. My poem ‘Hermes Transcribed’ was among eight finalists, and received a ‘Commended’ from judge Shane McCauley, a very well known Australian poet – who has had more than a thousand poems published over his four decade writing career. Whew!

He had this to say about ‘Hermes Transcribed’ in the Judge’s Report:

‚ÄúHermes transcribed‚ÄĚ (is) by another Western Australian poet, Joanne Mills. This is a complex poem, hard to summarise, save to say that here mythology meets and mingles with science, and the poet muses on the nature of creation and perhaps destiny as well. The images and language are luscious and mesmerising: ‚Äúechoes of honeycomb, nectar, the hum of his queen/ touching the breast of life, he lays his wand inside her heart‚ÄĚ.

It was a pleasure to attend the awards, and meet up with Kevin Gillam, a wonderful poet, who won First Prize and two Commendeds this year (I also awarded him First Prize earlier this year for the Interstellar Award for his poem ‘Napkin Man’).

The full list of place winners in the 2015 KSP Poetry Award can be found at the KSP website, along with the complete Judge’s Report. Here are Shane McCauley’s closing comments:

It is always a great thrill to read a body of Australian poetry that is so strong that it counters the claim that the genre is dead or at least moribund. Here is the proof that this is not so, and you have heard some of it today. My appreciation goes to all those at KSP involved in the complexities of organising such a competition, and I especially thank Shannon Coyle for her diligence and skill in doing the overseeing and communicating. I thank all the poets who entered, whether mentioned or not, as they help to keep the vital blood of this art form circulating. Thank you.

Congratulations to all the place-winning poets, and to all who entered, see you again next year! ūüôā


CaduceusLogo - Copy



Interstellar Award for Speculative Poetry open for entries until May 1st.

The Interstellar Award for Speculative Poetry will be accepting entries until May 1st, 2015, with a First Prize of $1000 and Second Prize of $300.

Please visit the Interstellar website at this link for full guidelines.


Interstellar Award for Speculative Poetry logo



‘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