2021 Winners

2021 Winner - Judith Rodriguez Open Prize

Simone King | Joining Planet City

After the short film ‘Planet City’ by Liam Young, which
imagines a future megacity created in response to the
climate crisis. Planet City houses ten billion people, while
the rest of the world is freed for rewilding and handed back
to Traditional Owners.

You can’t get past the darkness, morning seeping
through your only window is the night’s afterthought.
Gazing into murk, the apartment-cliff opposite flickers
awake, square-by-square with LED light. Thousands of
lives stacked – sleeping, making love, peering at
pixelated faces, arguing with parents they can’t forgive.

Soon, your daughter, swollen with life, will ascend to
join you, leaving Wurundjeri Country for good. Soon,
it will all be handed back. You imagine her standing on
her front lawn, mapping to memory what she will miss

open sky

papery Melaleuca bark

whistling Casuarina needles.

When her time comes, she will join you. A tuft of nearnothing, she will accrete to the skin of this creature/tower of recycled silicon, regret, algae, neon, heart beats and hope. Her window will frame a solar field, stolen slivers of sunlight dancing. You tell yourself she will smile, that she will think of the upside

eucalypts outside Planet City

sucking carbon to split concrete

with crowbar roots.

You wake from a sun-soaked dream and goddammit you need sky. Elevator up 165 levels to a wisp of soiled cloud. Confetti falls through searching fingers.
Yesterday, powdery paints of Holi festival exploded on screens. Laughing faces glittered with garish green, pink, yellow. Today, the rooftop air vibrates with
ommm. But your limbs ache, your stomach churns with  knowing your granddaughter will not taste, will not feel

cold rush of ocean, not see
shimmering sweep of milky way.

Beside you, a gathered group weeping words fossil fuel
generation… saw great change… he was so sorry. An
urn tipped over the edge. Ash floats into confetti,
sooting pastels, spins, sinks past steel, concrete, faces
pressed against glass. Flaky remains of bones on a long
earthbound journey. They settle in the end as flecks on
algal lakes, dust on corn crops, doused in hot pink light.

2021 Runner Up -Judith Rodriguez Open Prize

Alisha Brown | An Ontology of Morning

first, the kookaburra

giddy for another breath to laugh upon

and then his white-feathered friends

skimming like pale stones

between gum tree silhouettes

god or something equally rare

thumbs the envelope of sea and sky

with that golden seal

and between the twitching wiregrass

a soft rock hums an invitation

to a lizard’s belly

tell me where the suffering lives

for it is not here

where eyelids bloom in their baskets

and some precious part of me

is plucked alive again

without asking

only in this shade of innocence

can my ribs remember

holding older shapes

a warrior

a waratah

a string of weeping sap

who creeps toward a possum’s tongue

or dries her eyes on a treesnake’s coiled skin

dawn cannot know grief or loneliness –

it is too busy blushing

and the native bees are too busy making honey 

to hesitate

it is now, then

that the beginning begins

it is now

that stars explode

just to land a single pearl of water on your fingertip

every dream I’ve ever had

was born between a birdcall and a bilby’s ear

that sweet pink thing

turned shy to the eastern shoreline

for morning’s kiss

2021 Winner - Louise Rockne Youth Prize

Sophie Szew | Promps For My Next Poem

1. Write a poem about how you would love to write a poem, but you can’t help but waste your time thinking about ripping off your 8th-grade flowery purple stripy wallpaper. Maybe you’d replace it with yellow. It’d be cool to be in the middle of a short story that will forever change the face of feminism. Maybe if you had a face to change, you’d stop picking at yours

2. Write a poem about how you were just distracted by the stiffness of the calluses on your feet. It reminds you of when you used to screw the balls of your feet into the carpet until your feet were nice and crunchy and the indent on the carpet looked like it Tasted. So. Good.

3. Write a poem about how staring at this computer screen gives you a migraine, but you’ve had writer’s block for far too long to risk getting inspiration from the gel inside the Advil capsules and writing about how it’s “richer than the sky.”

4. Write a poem about how the sweatshirt you are wearing is the only one you didn’t donate when you turned 18 and decided that clothes were a social construct, and that you’d rather be Eve before God shattered her shell and all that was left of it were fingernails.

5. Write a poem about how you haven’t had long nails in over two weeks. You still have hot pink streaks of Kiss Beauty Nail Glue on your left ring finger to remind you of when youwere married to adulthood.

6. Write a poem about how you smudge pink lip liner under your waterline every day

7. around 2 pm to bring out the green in your eyes. Your mom hates it because she thinks it
8. makes you look sick. At 14 you would’ve taken that as a compliment and then flushed your vocal cords down the toilet because that meant that you didn’t look sick all this time despite having snot dripping from the cracks in the corners of your lips.

9. Write a poem about how your messy room makes the air in your chest compress into the shape of microphone feedback. You’d let it out through your mouth, but your lips are still

2021 Runner Up -Louise Rockne Youth Prize

Anna Meister| Months Until I Turn 16

A children’s book with salt
water taffy words reshapes
the little one’s imagination
into a discovery I’d rather not
remember but write down into a
persistent tale read to loves before
they rest at night and my
kindergarten best friend hung a dull
but gorgeous
charm bracelet on
her rolling backpack.
For sentimental’s sake stop making
her cry before naps because she couldn’t
keep the
lightning from caressing her eardrums.
Unlike me, her gymnastic chalk
grab onto the rings of the superior August
Bottles pelt her back if you see
God tell him
to smell the sweet aroma of champagne that
bubbled before the other.
Queen Victoria wears a satin silk veil to
cover her blue-light dental work and
lips that send red sparks to all the children
20 | Woorilla Poetry Prize 2020 Woorilla Poetry Prize 2020 | 21
in London and gray tree fingers grow moss
to reach up into my glass of water I get in
the middle of the night to
invade my middle
-afternoon daydreams.
Like beautiful strangers in couples looking at
lit-up houses during Christmas ornaments
you’re a boring and slow river giving me
Love letters from third-grade
make me feel more full than the candy that’s
attached to them.
Like snow she’s always melting from the
mountains into my glass
spaceship and
soaring into Sunday morning football layday wrinkles.
1980’s trick-or-treat vampires have
hummingbird wings whose fluttering
rivals Tinkerbell and her blur of light
always loyal
to its heart and digital cameras that
store security
footage of the latest bank heist and I think the
robber is my neighbor’s and
I’s past lover but
my neighbor’s brother but not lover
I welcome the fire ants into my house, I let them
drink the best wine
and most fruitful dirt.
A bat hanging in an upside-down cave doubleblinded by lost weight of uneaten late night
Friday breakfast.
Imagine the leaves
shivering in the beginning
of your ear cartilage grin and 60’s
Screaming crickets don’t make music but noise
around our Honda we drove down yellow
flower streets.


2021 Winner - CALD Section 

Ayushi Jain | He's Dead PS I'm Grieving

In the loving memory of my grandad

This world can be a gloomy place sometimes

Sometimes? I’m lying.

It doesn’t make sense when you want it to

But when it does


It’s too


to witness.                                                             

When I have had enough of this realm

Quite too often



I disappear.


Don’t let them  find out 

where  I am,

I am at  Khyati’s house

And appear in my babaji’s locked 2 bedroom apartment

It’s locked because it’s up for sale

Dad said,

It won’t fetch much

but there’s no use in

Letting it be     vacant


I can’t imagine someone else living there.

Those white walls and that murky floor

They mean  everything.

They mean nothing,

I don’t miss him

I am not fragile,

I don’t long for his 

benignity again

It’s the quarters where he died

I try not to focus on that part,

So I divert to the memories I have cosseted.

I don’t have any memories

I don’t even remember  what he looked   like

On an eroded shelf just there above

his irreplaceable cathode-ray television

Would be a wooden carton of mangoes

Or a cardboard box of cherries.

No I am not  reminded  of   him

Every single time    I sit down to   eat

Bringing new stories he heard from strangers

He was a man of the world, a traveler.

Dad do you remember that

story babaji told about that  ring merchant?

No I didn’t ask dad that.

Babaji’s dead, we don’t miss  


Domestic and unpopular villages, abandoned libraries

Those were more his tea

Why do I still remember his morning yoga routines?

Just two cloves of adrak, no sugar

Saturate it with honey until the

fragrance of the tea leaves

is rendered null and void

Always and always shall I profess

To be emotion-less and devoid of anything that makes me human

But inside I am burned and full of soot



his          ashes



2021 Runner Up- CALD Section 

Ayushi Jain | Gone

In the loving memory of a lost childhood

Soft toys wrapped in a black cloth

Stashed in the attic, forgotten, lost.

Or thrown away in the bin

Or left behind at the last place we declared home.

Doltish haircuts and vacuous glasses

Wide eyed and open mouthed glances at the sky

at the sound of an airplane

And whispered cursing, giggling

And good-night kisses.

A thousand flamboyant hair clips

Two thousand plastic necklaces

Three thousand loose teeth

Four thousand pirouetting aampanna glasses

Five thousand miles away, absent.

Toy cars and montessori blocks

Nani’s fragile hands knitting woolen sweaters

in the noon of a hypothermic winter

Bulbous cheeks

Tumefied tonsils

Birthday cakes and gaugeable candles

Lurking outside after dark

Unaware of some predator’s eyes.

Forgotten blood vows

Broken swings

Bruised knees and bleeding ankles and cut fingers

Dead “Best friends for life”

Dead “I’ll marry you when I get a little older”

Somewhere in the stars

Long gone jubilant innocent girls and ponytails

Dead stray kittens, trampled street dogs

Rotting mangoes and cherries

Decomposing into the ground, gone.

2021 Awards Ceremony

Competition Opens  |  1st June 2024

Competition Closes | 30th September 2024


Awards Ceremony - Hybrid Event: 

November 2024

 Competition & Award Dates

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