Jean is a long term member of Hunter Writers Centre. Born in Chinchilla, Jean grew up in rural Queensland. She has published 5 full-length collections of poetry and co-edited a comprehensive anthology of contemporary poetry by writers who live in the Hunter or have close connections with the region. Here is her website. Jean is available for mentoring – contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org (photo by Dean Osland, Newcastle Herald)
Hunter Writers Centre funded the publication of the HWC poetry group’s series of poems that pay tribute to Margaret Olley. Olley was an iconic figure in Australian art whose main focus on landscapes and interiors turned everyday objects and scenes into bursts of colour. As the model for one of Australia’s most recognised Archibald Prize-winning portraits by William Dobell, she looks out towards the viewer, a serene presence with a hint of mischief in her eyes. The book can be purchased from the Newcastle Art Gallery for $15.
If poets can be said to have careers, then winning this prize is definitely an enormous career highlight. Its status as the major prize for a single poem in Australia and the substantial amount of money awarded make it a huge honour to have won. The fact that the competition encourages the longer poem is also very significant, as it’s not easy to get longer poems, or sequences of poems, published at all. To publish thirty or so really high quality long poems in such fine anthologies every year is itself a great contribution made to the poetry world.
Ross Gillet, winner.
I have been aware of the central position the Newcastle Poetry Prize holds since the early Eighties when it was the Mattara Prize. I entered frequently then and since then I’ve seen it evolve into undoubtedly the pre-eminent poetry prize in Australia. As such I regard it as of immense significance to Poetry in general, and to me — since in my case I have been somewhat reticent about my work and winning or appearing in the anthology has been highly important personally. I recognise many of the contributors over the years simply by their repeated appearances, so that we share a kind of collegiality. In the perilous community of poets the NPP is a life-line and an anchor.
John Watson, 2nd Prize.
Writing poetry can feel like slogging away in a one-person show with no audience. While the Newcastle Poetry Prize provides a generous financial incentive to persevere, the opportunity to have work read by such eminent judges is a gift in itself. Receiving an award and being published in the NPP anthology encourages me to continue, with fresh resolve, an exciting, exhausting endless game of hide-and-seek with words.
Joanne Ruppin, Commended
To be commended in the Newcastle Poetry Prize is to be judged worthy by one’s peers, and this might be the best kind of acknowledgement. The prize provides opportunity for the longer poem, a chance to reward a sustained aesthetic effort seldom found elsewhere. What poets do is mostly done in isolation. Attending the awards ceremony put me in the company of fine poets and their work—and fine conversation, too—and I sense the rejuvenating desire to improve my craft. I’m standing on more solid ground, I think, looking forward to the road ahead.
Kevin Smith, Commended