‘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.


‘Hermes Transcribed’ shortlisted for award

Lovely news arrived today that my poem Hermes Transcribed has been shortlisted for the Katharine Susannah Pritchard Poetry Award for 2015.  The final results for the award will be announced at the KSP Writers’ Centre on December 6th, along with several other award categories.

I was a member of the KSP poetry group and the KSP speculative fiction group for several years, and have happy memories of both groups. If you happen to be in the Perth area and would like to come along on Dec. 6th, information can be found at the KSP website.

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‘Admirable, and one of a kind.’

Today I’d like to share a review (by Peter Pierce, Sydney Morning Herald) of the wonderful anthology of Australian speculative poetry I had a poem included in last year, The Stars Like Sand, edited by Tim Jones and P.S. Cottier, published by Interactive Press.

The breadth and depth of the poem selection in this anthology, which focused my interest on speculative poetry as a genre of huge and fascinating possibilities, was part of the inspiration for opening an award dedicated solely to speculative poetry. You can find information and guidelines for the Interstellar Award for Speculative Poetry here.

I recommend The Stars Like Sand, and am pleased to see its value as a beautifully organized and intriguing collection acknowledged by reviewers. You can read Pierce’s review here. The Stars Like Sand is available here.




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



Stanza Spot: Flying is Easy

Here we are, six days into 2015! I’ve resolved to focus this year on writing more poetry, after a slim writing year overall in 2014, with only two poems winging their way in (and out). One of them was Flying is Easy, a poem penned ‘at the last minute’ to enter in the Karen W. Treanor Poetry Award 2014, in which it was fortunate enough to place third. I got the poem to the Post Office ten minutes before the postmark deadline for the competition, which was cutting it pretty fine! Sometimes, that closing door works for me like a little key turning, and the ‘poem butterfly’ flutters through like a beam of bright light.

The award was judged by Annamaria Weldon. Here’s an extract from her report (posted at the Katharine Susannah Pritchard Writers’ Centre website):

I admired this poem for its inclusion of a complex geometric premise in a description of passion, and for the care taken with vocabulary and language. I was unfamiliar with Hinton’s tesseract or hypercubes – though the words suggested arcane mathematical terms. When I understood the juxtaposition of a visualisation of 4 dimensional geometry with the poem’s sensuous depictions of physical intimacy, the illusion of that altered state of consciousness which can sometimes attend a passionate encounter was greatly increased…this is an exceptionally assured work which is as original and heroic as Icarus in its reach.

To poets and writers, how do you catch ‘that moment’ of inspiration? Do you work best to a goal or deadline, or with relaxed, contemplative ‘spaces’….or a bit of both? Wishing you all a happy and fulfilling scribe’s year! 🙂



Australian Speculative Poetry: ‘The Stars Like Sand’ now available!

I’m delighted to have a poem in this new anthology of Australian Speculative Poetry, The Stars Like Sand, edited by Tim Jones and P.S.Cottier, published by Interactive Press. From the editors:

Travel to the stars and beyond in this anthology by Australia’s leading poets. Witness the end of the world, time travel to the future near or far, or teleport with a fairy or witch. Ghosts, dreams and strange creatures breed and mingle in these pages. Poetry has never been so mind-bending, or so entertaining.

It’s rare to see anthologies of speculative poetry (fantasy, science fiction and all manner of hybrids), and The Stars Like Sand represents a wonderfully diverse array of voices and visions past and present, leaping into multiple futures. My poem ‘Folds’ is joined by creations from the likes of John Tranter, Sean Williams, Judith Beveridge, Simon Petrie, Kevin Gillam, Diane Fahey, Les Murray, Chris Wallace-Crabbe and Aussie icon A.B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson, to name but a few.


The Stars Like Sand is available at Amazon on paper and for Kindle here.