2018 Queensland Poetry Award Winners Announced

2018 Queensland Poetry Award Winners Announced

The Queensland Poetry Festival (QPF) is excited to announce the winners of the 2018 Queensland Poetry Awards and Prizes.

Winners of the prestigious suite of Arts Queensland’s Awards and Prizes, as well as the Philip Bacon Ekphrasis Award and the Oodgeroo Noonuccal Indigenous Poetry Prize, were announced at QPF’s Opening Night, on Thursday 23 August, at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts.


The winner of this award is Philip Neilson for his poem, The Art of Flying, which was written in response to the artwork Inquisition, by Lisa Adams (pictured above, courtesy of Philip Bacon Galleries). Judges Freja Carmichael and Nathan Shepherson described Neilson’s entry as “a striking and cohesive poem honed to its subject. It achieved a fluent synthesis in leaving its own words behind to re-translate itself into a sequence of resonant images that can only nourish its reader.”

Second Prize went to Jeffrey Harpeng for his poem Girl with Dog, which was written in response to Joy Hester’s artwork of the same name. The judges said Harpeng’s poem “adheres to the notion of strength through simplicity. It is filled with quiet, evocative music that skilfully sifts its words through its overall purpose.”

The top five entries to the Philip Bacon Ekphrasis Award will be published in Verity La.


Named in honour of a distinguished Queensland poet, the Arts Queensland Val Vallis Award for an Unpublished Poem has been encouraging poets throughout Australia for eighteen years.

Entered poems (or suites of poems) of 80 lines or less were judged by Angela Gardner from Light Trap Press and QPF’s Indigenous Poet-in-Residence Alison Whittaker.

They awarded First Prize to Zenobia Frost, for her poem Reality on Demand, which will receive a cash prize of $1000.

Second Prize was awarded to Damen O’Brien for his entry What We Know About Her. Both winning entries will be published online in Cordite, a great supporter of this prize. The judges were also impressed with Sarah St Vincent Welch’s entry, Landing, which they awarded Highly Commended.


Now in its 16th year, the prestigious Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize for an unpublished manuscript awards an emerging poet with $2000 and a publishing contract with University of Queensland Press (UQP).

Anna Jacobson took out the 2018 prize with her manuscript, I know I may not escape unscathed.

Jacobson’s winning poetry collection will be published by UQP and launched at the 2019 Queensland Poetry Festival.

Runner up to this prize was Damen O’Brien for pH, while Belle Ling and India Breen were also highly commended.


Australia’s only arts award that recognises the growing field of spoken word, the Arts Queensland XYZ Prize for Innovation in Spoken Word is named after the former 2010 Arts Queensland Poet-in-Residence, Emily XYZ, who left a deep impression on many of today’s Queensland spoken word artists.

Judges Benjamin Solah and Daisy Lavea-Timo awarded First Prize to Anisa Nandaula for her entry I Hate You. 

Nandaula receives $1000, publication by Melbourne Spoken Word and, as the highest-placed Queensland entrant, workshop credit with the Queensland Writers Centre. Nandaula will also be invited to perform at the 2019 Queensland Poetry Festival.


QPF is very proud to announce Brenda Saunders as winner of the Oodgeroo Noonuccal Indigenous Poetry Prize for the unpublished poem, for her work Quandongs. Named in honour of Oodgeroo Noonuccal, the first Aboriginal Australian to publish a book of verse, the prize has been named after receiving permission from Oodgeroo’s family and in close consultation with Quandamooka Festival.

All winning poets were presented with their awards at QPF’s Opening Night. First-prize winners will also read their poems on the evening.

This event will also feature 2018 QPF Poet-in-Residence Yona Harvey. Harvey is an award-winning African American poet, literary artist and contributing writer to Marvel Comics’ best-selling Black Panther series, making her one of the first black women ever to have written for Marvel.