The 2023 Newcastle Poetry Prize, 18 Nov

Well, Wyn didn’t win $15,000, but her poem is one of thirty chosen for the anthology, out of more than 800 entries. It is Australia’s premier poetry prize for a single poem. (I didn’t get in and entered a pearler!) A great achievement – especially as her focus is on fiction and she has won prizes for her paintings.

Wyn, 18 Nov

‘Good on Bronwyn! Persistence pays off.’ Emailed one poet, but it’s the first time she has entered the Newcastle competition! The anthology ‘The Crossing’ is available at Amazon or the Hunter Writers Centre’

From Wyn’s poem, ‘Jumpers’

A man from the office walked down town one lunchtime and didn’t come back.
We all started walking downtown, wondering if he’d pop up from behind
a clump of trees, or had gone to Brisbane. There’s a gradual migration of people
which begins, they say, in Western Australia and works its way around the coast,
ending in Queensland. One day there’ll be so many on the move, they’ll create
a weather effect, like El Nino, and blow us all up to Cairns.

He’d been uneasy too, had an edginess hanging about him like flu.
We all wondered: a woman, we’d think, abduction, rape, murder.
A man? Broad daylight? It was a fine day, clear blue sky and warm;
a good day to disappear. Week after week, nothing. The nothing
was hard to take in. A person breathes, talks, walks, and has to eat.
But his accounts weren’t used, he was ceasing to exist through finance.
We’d look at the fences and shops he would have seen
as he walked down town, and wondered.

They found him months later, after the fires cleared the bush.
Couldn’t tell how he died. Someone said they’d seen him
a week after he disappeared, then a few days later near some shops.
They estimated he may have walked around thinking about it for two weeks.                                                                                                                           ~

Christopher (Kit) Kelen won Hunter Writers’ Centre Member Award for his poem, ‘Bukovina’ – he even wore the title.

There are some great lines. From the first section, night train to Vatra Dornei:

a mess of wires, cranes, river runs
all the industrial trackside leavings

and from some windows
clothes hung to freeze

churchyards full of the gone
old car wrecks cast to the sidings . . .

And congratulations to Kevin Smith for winning with, ‘The Crossing’.

We hadn’t been to Newcastle for 20 years or more, had a great weekend, the sun was shining, the pubs were raucous, and we caught up with friends.

Castenet Club display at the museum brought back great memories of seeing them in Sydney

The museum had a pitifully inadequate display of the rich indigenous heritage. It was literally in a space smaller than a disabled toilet.

Thomas Dick, Biripi fishermen, 1915
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