John Bennett – brief CV

John Bennett has a PhD in poetics and is a widely published, performing and award-winning poet. Since moving out of Sydney’s Inner West he has been working with photography and video, and with various community groups.

Writing experience

Publications: Invitation to Jagun, Wagtail, 2013; A Pocket Diary, Flying Island Books, 2012; Field Notes, Five Islands Press, 1998; A Measure of Place, Penguin Books, 1993; and various chap books. His exhibition ‘First light, from Eos to Helios’ (Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery,  July/ August 2017) consisted of poetry, photographs, video poem and a chapbook of poems and prose that advocates natural aesthetics as a way of connecting back to nature.

A Bundanon Fellowship, 2008; Varuna Fellowship, 2005. Sydney Harbour Artist of the Year, 2007; Poet in residence, Macleay Museum, Sydney, 2007; Judge (chair) of the Newcastle Poetry Prize (and many smaller competitions); Sydney Convenor of Poets Against the War. Has recently completed a poetry commission for the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

Performed as featured guest at Writers Week, Festival of Sydney; Bryon Writers Festival; Brisbane Writers Festival; West Cork Literary Festival; Australian Poetry Festival, Sydney; Franco-Anglais de Poesie, Paris; Australian Book Fair, London; Blue Mountains Poetry Festival. Until recently he was the Artistic Director of Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival.


John’s poetry has been published in Australia the UK, USA, Canada and China. He has won the Mattara (now Newcastle) Prize and David Tribe Prize, and been runner up in Red Room’s New Shoots, 2016, Wildcare Tasmania International Nature Writing Prize, the Warana (2 times); Vincent Buckley Poetry prize. He is represented in Puncher and Wattmann’s recent ‘Contemporary Australian Anthology’. John served two terms as President of the Poets Union

A documentary on his work, ‘Poetry at first light’ was broadcast by ABC Radio National’s Earshot February, 2016. He has also featured twice in The Listening Room (ABC), once with a poem produced with four voices, A First Hearing (ABC), Poetica (ABC) and Radio Eye 360 (ABC), ABC Mid-North Coast, Radio 5UV, Eastside Radio, 2SER, 2BBB and 2NVR.

‘John is a remarkable poet with a wide ranging set of interests, skill sets and knowledge areas. He has won major awards and has produced very ambitious works.’ Kit Kelen, Series Editor, Flying Islands. ‘John’s abilities to build transformative connections is a fine achievement. The way in which these elements have been so organically integrated into the work is a tribute to the poet’s language skills and the richness of his imagination.’ Judith Beveridge.


His PhD ‘A New Defence of Poetry’ defends poetry as a natural use of language and investigates discursive ecopoetry – (‘This is an extraordinary thesis . . .’ Dr Ivor Indyk). He has taught literature at Wollongong University, ecopoetry at Sydney University’s Continuing Education and Camp Creative, Bellingen.