Judith Wright Calanthe Award for a Poetry Collection

2021 Shortlist

Congratulations to the finalists!

Dropbear by Evelyn Araluen (University of Queensland Press)

Judges' comments 

Drop Bear is an incendiary polemic, a snarling exploration of the violence of colonisation and the repercussions of that continue to reverberate, not just on the victims of the violence but the land itself. Evelyn Araluen’s is a defiant poetry forged from the cinders of a burning world.

Airplane Baby Banana Blanket by Benjamin Dodds (Recent Work Press)

Judges' comments 

Benjamin Dodds takes us deep into a scientific experiment that is profoundly troubling and, on the way, asks probing questions about the nature of humanity and the making of family. Airplane Baby Banana Blanket is unsparing and sharp, a clinical yet moving look at life in its myriad strangeness.

Change Machine by Jaya Savige (University of Queensland Press)

Judges' comments 

Jaya Savige takes great interest in culture, high and low, such that Rachmaninoff and Steve Irwin can comfortably mingle in a poem about the pine plantations of Beerburrum. Fiendishly erudite and frequently funny, Change Machine is merciless in the pressure it puts on language: when it’s not collapsing it explodes.

Homecoming by Elfie Shiosaki (Magabala Books)

Judges' comments 

Elfie Shiosaki’s confident debut, Homecoming, tells the story of four generations of Noongar women. Pivoting between archive and myth it preserves a small vital history of state brutality and the heroes battling against it. It is readable and compelling, yet fundamentally avant-garde in its exploration of a new poetics in service of a crucial political end.

Terminally Poetic by Ouyang Yu (Ginninderra Press)

Judges' comments 

Terminally Poetic is a manifesto on rejection: a rejection of poetry as it is commonly understood and valued, a rejection of racial stereotypes, hierarchies, and how we read. Sustained by a love of languages and ribald humour, Ouyang Yu showcases his devotion toward poetry against all reason and societal ties.