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2022 Newcastle Poetry Prize

First Prize $15,000 – Claire Albrecht ‘The Anabranch’

Second Prize $5,000 – Christopher Kelen ‘A Letter to the Judges’

Third Prize $1,000 – Leigh Jordan ‘Scrumdingling’

Two Commended Awards $250
Jennifer Kornberger ‘Recent Sightings of Tito’
Jakob Ziguras ‘Sanatorium’ 

Local Award – David Bruce Musgrave ‘Five Elegies’

Harri Jones Memorial Prize for a poet under 36 years
Dan Hogan ‘A Life of Prizes’


2022 – Claire Albrecht
2021 – Lachlan Brown
2020 – Damen O’Brien
2019 – Chloe Wilson
2018 – Ross Gillett
2017 – Lucy Williams
2016 – John Watson
2015 – Anthony Lawrence
2014 – Debi Hamilton and Anthony Lawrence
2013 – Jennifer Compton
2012 – David Musgrave
2011 – Mark Tredinnick
2010 – Duncan Hose
2009 – Patricia Sykes
2008 – David Musgrave
2007 – Mark Tredinnick
2006 – Nathan Shepherdson
2005 – Emma Jones
2004 – Peter Kirkpatrick
2002 – Emma Jones & John Watson & Jo Gardiner & Judy Johnson
2000 – Philip Salom
1999 – Brook Emery
1997 – Anthony Lawrence
1996 – Philip Salom & Roland Leach & David Brooks
1995 – Roland Leach
1991 – Dorothy Hewett
1989 – John Bennett
1988 – Kristopher Saknussem
1987 – Dane Thwaites & Tracy Ryan
1986 – Lily Brett
1985 – Diane Fahey
1984 – John A Scott
1983 – Craig Powell
1982 – Peter Kocan
1981 – Kevin Hart


2022 – Aidan Coleman & Alison Whittaker
2021 – Toby Fitch & Jill Jones
2020 – Mike Ladd & Judith Beveridge
2019 – Judy Johnson & Jaya Savige


The University of Newcastle provides a prize pool of $25,000
and has been the major sponsor of the Prize since 2005.

In September, 1980, Peter Goldman stood in the middle of Civic Park during the Mattara Festival and handed out an A4 photocopied anthology of poetry to passers-by. The collection featured poems by local Hunter writers with contributors ranging in age from six to eighty-one.

This anthology provided the spark for the first official Mattara Poetry Prize in 1981, overseen by two young academics at the University of Newcastle: Chris Pollnitz and Paul Kavanagh who secured funding for the Prize from the Hunter Water Board and convinced A.D. Hope and G.A. Wilkes to be judges.

From these modest beginnings, the Mattara prize quickly established itself as the most prestigious poetry competition in the country and is now known as the Newcastle Poetry Prize.

The Newcastle Poetry Prize is one of the major events on the literary calendar in Australia, bringing entries from across the nation. Each year, local and national poets compete with internationally recognised names such as Peter Porter, Les Murray, Bruce Dawe, Anthony Lawrence, Mark Tredinnick, Lily Brett, Robert Adamson and Judith Beveridge.

No less illustrious has been the list of judges casting their eye over the entries, including Christopher Pollintz, Peter Porter, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Paul Kavanagh, Les Murray, Dame Leonie Kramer, Fay Zwicky, Dorothy Hewett, Antigone Kefala and Robert Gray, Kim Cheng-Boey, Jennifer Harrison, Mark Tredinnick and Anna Kerdijk-Nicholson.

Coordinated by the Hunter Writers’ Centre since 2002, the Newcastle Poetry Prize is a significant cultural achievement and is a testament to the commitment of its sponsor – the University of Newcastle – to celebrate literary excellence in Australia.


Harri Jones , poetIn 2011, the Harri Jones Memorial Prize was incorporated into the Newcastle Poetry Prize and awarded to the best poem in the anthology by a poet under the age of 36.  This prize was set up in 1965 after the tragic early death of T.H. (Harri) Jones.  He was a Welsh poet, critic and lecturer in the English department at what was then a college of the University of NSW, subsequently to become the University of Newcastle. In the time from his arrival from the UK in 1959 Harri had a huge impact on the cultural and literary life of Newcastle. He is remembered not only for his own poetry (most recently published in the Complete Poems of T.H.Jones), but also for his virtuosity as a reader and a lecturer. He was known to hold his listeners riveted with his fine Welsh voice whether in class or at private readings. His friends and family set up a fund after his death to support a perpetual prize in his memory.

Thomas Henry (Harri) Jones was born in a remote area of Wales in 1921, the eldest of five children and the only son in a poor rural family. He won scholarships to secondary school in Builth Wells and then to university in Aberystwyth. His studies were interrupted by World War II when he served in the Navy. He met his wife, Madeleine, when they were demobbed after the war. After completing his Master’s degree in the post-war years, he taught English to returned servicemen at the Naval Dockyards in Portsmouth, England. He and Madeleine moved to Newcastle NSW in 1959 with their three young daughters. Harri had obtained a lectureship in the Department of English of the then University College of Newcastle, an offshoot of the University of New South Wales. This was meant to be a short-term move, with the hope of returning to Britain when Harri secured a lectureship there.

Harri is a well-known Anglo-Welsh poet and in addition to his books of poetry he is well represented in anthologies of poetry in Australia and elsewhere. He published his first volume of poetry in 1957. His fourth and last was published posthumously in 1966. He was very well regarded as a lecturer despite the alcoholism that marred his latter years and ended with his untimely death by drowning in 1965 at the age of 43. After his death, family and friends donated money in his memory to set up a poetry prize to continue in perpetuity. He had a huge impact on his students, several of whom went on to fine careers of their own as writers and academics.