THE BLAKE POETRY PRIZE

The Blake Poetry Prize 2020

The Blake Poetry Prize challenges Australian poets to explore the spiritual and religious in a new work of 100 lines or less.

The Blake Poetry Prize ($5,000) challenges Australian poets of varied styles and religious and spiritual allegiances to explore the wider experience of spirituality, religion, and/or belief in a new work of 100 lines or less.  Please note each entry requires a separate payment. Eligible entries require both a completed entry form and payment of fee.

The 2020 Blake Poetry Prize is managed by Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre in collaboration with WestWords.

Winners announcement – Tuesday 22nd September 2020
For full details, visit www.westwords.com.au

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About the Blake Poetry Prize

Since 2016 Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre (CPAC) has conducted The Blake Poetry Prize as a bi-annual event, ensuring the future of this landmark prize. The Blake Poetry Prize is presented in partnership with WestWords. For enquiries and further information visit westwords.com.au

WestWords and Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre will maintain the guiding principles of The Blake Poetry Prize in continuing to engage contemporary poets, both national and international, in conversations concerning faith, spirituality, religion, hope, humanity, social justice, belief and non-belief. The Blake Poetry Prize is an aesthetic means of exploring the wider experience of spirituality with the visionary imagining of contemporary poets.

The Blake Prize takes its name from William Blake, a poet and artist who integrated religious and artistic content in his work. The Blake Poetry Prize challenges contemporary poets of disparate styles to explore the spiritual and religious in a new work of 100 lines or less. The Blake Poetry Prize is strictly non-sectarian. The entries are not restricted to works related to any faith or any artistic style, but all poems entered must have a recognisable religious or spiritual integrity.

Meet the Judges for the Blake Poetry Prize 2020

Julie Janson

Julie Janson grew up in Sydney with an Aboriginal Darug father and English heritage mother. Julie is a Burruberongal woman of Darug Aboriginal Nation. Her writing career began when she was a teacher who wrote and directed plays in remote Northern Territory Aboriginal communities. She took part in traditional Yolngu ceremonies and cultural activities. Julie has received numerous Arts Residencies including the BR Whiting Rome Studio and Asialink residencies in Indonesia. She is a playwright, novelist and award winning poet. Several of her plays were shortlisted for the Patrick White Award and the Griffin Award. Co-recipient of the Oodgeroo Noonuccal Poetry Prize 2016. Winner of the Judith Wright Poetry Prize 2019. Her  recently published novel Benevolence (Magabala) has been long listed for the NIB Literary Award  2020.


Lachlan Brown

Lachlan Brown is a senior lecturer in English at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga. He is the author of Limited Cities (Giramondo, 2012) and Lunar Inheritance (Giramondo, 2017). Lachlan's poetry has been published in various journals including AntipodesCordite, and Rabbitand has been featured on ABC radio. He has been shortlisted and commended for various poetry prizes including the Newcastle Poetry Prize, the Peter Porter Poetry Prize, the Macquarie Fields Poetry Prize, and the Judith Wright Poetry Prize. Lachlan has previously been involved in judging the Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize and the Mary Gilmore Poetry Prize, and is the chair for the Kenneth Slessor Prize for the 2021 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. Lachlan currently is the vice-president of Booranga Writers Centre in Wagga Wagga and the NSW representative for the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL).


Julie Watts

Julie Watts is a Western Australian writer and Play Therapist and lives by the coast with her family. She has been published in various journals and anthologies including: Westerly, Cordite Review, Australian Love Poems 2013, Australian Poetry Anthology 2015, the Anthology of Contemporary Australian Feminist Poetry, The Dangar Island Gargage Boat: (Newcastle Poetry Prize Anthology 2016), Global Poetry Anthology 2017, Signs: (Vice Chancellor's International Poetry prize 2018).

Julie won the Grieve (2016), was shortlisted for the Montreal International Poetry Prize (2017), won The Blake Poetry Prize 2017 and The Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript (2018). Her first collection of poetry, Honey and Hemlock, was published in 2013 by Sunline Press. Her second poetry collection, Legacy, was published in 2018 by UWA Publishing.

The Blake Poetry Prize 2020 Shortlist

Judges’ overall comments about the Blake Poetry Prize 2020

Julie Janson: “It was an honour to be asked to judge this prestigious Poetry Award. The large number of excellent entries made it very difficult to make decisions about the winner, highly commended and short list. The range of subject matter was vast, from works that mourned our burnt country with throbbing sadness and poems that celebrated passion and love of family and the joy of living. It was challenging to read and judge poems that reflected the cultural diversity of Australia’s poets. I offer congratulations to all poets who entered. Great to see the art of poetry being celebrated by so many talented people.”

Lachlan Brown: “It was an honour to be part of the judging panel for the Blake poetry prize this year. During times of chaos and hardship, it is even more important to consider what poetic responses may offer us in terms of emotional comfort and spiritual consolation (or perhaps how they might register emotional discomfort or spiritual provocation!). As I read this year’s entries I was struck by the number of poetic responses that were spiritually rich, poetically diverse, and technically astute. This year’s Blake Prize entries contained ekphrastic meditations, responses to ageing and mortality, re-imaginings of the Australian landscape. Many poems considered recent ecological events like the Australian bushfires, or the current pandemic and provided moving and complex responses. There were so many strong poems representing such a diverse range of spiritual positions and experiences that it was extremely difficult to choose a long-list, let alone narrowing things down to a shortlist and winner. The Blake Prize shortlist, along with all the entries, should alert us to the vibrant ways that spirituality is folded into poetic expression.”

Julie Watts: “The Blake Poetry Prize has always been held in high regard. It is an important prize with its focus on spirituality, the quality that embodies the human spirit. I believe it is of great importance to recognise and give a space to this aspect of our humanness, especially in an increasing secular world where the understanding of spirituality is broadening and dystopian feeling deepening. It is even more important in the aftermath of calamity: the terrible fires of 2019 and this time of pandemic, to acknowledge our spiritual nature. It is in this that resilience, hope and transformation reside.

In this year's submissions there were many poems about struggle: grief, disillusionment, tragedy, loss but there was also hope and joy scattered throughout the collection. There was humour, and sensuality and of course spirituality in its varied expressions: the flight of a Kingfisher, the arrival of hope after grief and the complexity of human connection.”


The Shortlist