Newcastle Poetry Prize

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The Newcastle Poetry Prize is an annual Australian award for poetry. It was established in 1981 as the Mattara Poetry Prize.

The Prize began from humble beginnings in September 1980, when Peter Goldman stood in the middle of Civic Park during the Mattara Festival and handed out an anthology of poetry to passers-by. The A4 photocopied collection featured poems from local Hunter writers, with contributors ranging in age from six to eighty-one.

This anthology prompted two lecturers at the University of Newcastle, Christopher Pollnitz and Paul Kavanagh, to seek funding for a poetry competition which paved the way for the first official Mattara Poetry Prize in 1981. This prize gone on to become one of the richest and most prestigious poetry competitions in the country, and is now known as the Newcastle Poetry Prize.

Today the Prize is one of the major events of the literary calendar in Australia, bringing entries from across the nation. More recently the Newcastle Poetry Prize has included a New Media prize, creating a forum for the new technology poets in the country.

Initially sponsored by the Hunter Water Board, Newcastle City Council has provided funding via its Community Assistance Program since 1995, and the University of Newcastle has partnered with Council since 2004 to provide additional sponsorship.

In 2011, the Prize celebrated its 30th anniversary and marked the milestone with readings by distinguished previous winners including Les Murray, Anthony Lawrence, Mark Tredinnick, Diane Fahey, Philip Salom, Duncan Hose, Patricia Sykes, Peter Kirkpatrick and Brooke Emery. A special anniversary anthology, Completely Surrounded, was published by Puncher & Wattman.


New Media Winners[edit]

  • [2009]: [Rob Walker and Ben Walker] (Bibliophobia)
  • [2008]: [Jason Nelson] (Wittenoom) joint winner with [Paul White] (Don't read too much into it)
  • [2007]: [Rob Walker and Matt Walker] (Moon Anti-Poem)
  • [2006]: [Philip Norton] (Hypnosis)


  • "Buying Online", Hunter Writers' Centre, Newcastle 2018
  • "The Crows in Town", Hunter Writers' Centre, Newcastle 2017
  • "The Dangar Island Garbage Boat", Hunter Writers' Centre, Newcastle 2016
  • "Connective Tissue", Hunter Writers' Centre, Newcastle 2015
  • "Now You Shall Know", Hunter Writers' Centre, Newcastle 2013
  • "Coastline", Hunter Writers' Centre, Newcastle 2012
  • "Completely Surrounded: Thirty Years of the Newcastle Poetry Prize 1981-2011", Hunter Writers' Centre, Newcastle 2011
  • "The Wombat Vedas", ed. Jennifer Harrison and Keri Glastonbury, Hunter Writers' Centre, Newcastle 2011
  • "Time With the Sky", ed. Jill Jones and Anthony Lawrence, Hunter Writers' Centre, Newcastle 2010
  • The Night Road, ed. Philip Salom and Jill Jones, Hunter Writers' Centre, Newcastle 2009
  • to sculpt the moment, ed. Jan Owen, Hunter Writers' Centre, Newcastle, 2008.
  • Eclogues, ed. Martin Harrison, John Jenkins and Jan Owen, Hunter Writers' Centre, Newcastle, 2007.
  • the honey fills the cone, ed. Judith Beveridge, Martin Harrison and Jean Kent, Hunter Writers' Centre, Newcastle, 2006.
  • sunweight,, ed. Judy Johnson, Judith Beveridge & Brian Joyce, Hunter Writers' Centre, Newcastle, 2005.
  • The Cool Breath Burn, (CD) ed. John Bennet, Judy Johnson & Lizz Murphy, Hunter Writers' Centre, Newcastle, 2004.
  • Unfamiliar Tides, 2001/2002.
  • Time's Collision with the Tongue, ed. Peter Boyle and Jan Owen, 2000.
  • The Argument from Desire, ed. Ron K. Pretty, Five Islands Press, Wollongong, 1999.
  • The Nightjar, ed. John Hawke, Coal River Press, Newcastle, 1997.
  • The New World Tattoo, ed. John Hawke, Coal River Press, Newcastle, 1996.
  • Let Dark Memory Bloom, ed. Paul Kavanagh. Newcastle: Coal River Press, 1995.
  • The Sea’s White Edge, ed. Paul Kavanagh. Springwood: Butterfly Books, 1991.
  • Pictures from an Exhibition, ed. Paul Kavanagh, Mattara Poetry Prize, University of Newcastle, 1989.
  • The International Terminal, ed. Christopher Pollnitz. University of Newcastle,1988.
  • Properties of the Poet, ed. Paul Kavanagh. University of Newcastle, 1987.
  • An Inflection of Silence, ed. Christopher Pollnitz. University of Newcastle, 1986.
  • Poem of Thanksgiving, ed. Paul Kavanagh, University of Newcastle, 1985.
  • Neither Nuked nor Crucified, ed. Christopher Pollnitz. University of Newcastle, 1984.
  • Instructions for Honey Ants, ed. Paul Kavanagh, University of Newcastle, 1983.
  • Lines from the Horizon and Other Poems, ed. Christopher Pollnitz. University of Newcastle, 1982.
  • The Members of the Orchestra, ed. Paul Kavanagh, University of Newcastle, 1981.

External links[edit]