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Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry

About the award

The Kenneth Slessor Prize ($30,000) is offered to a poet for a book of collected poems or for a single poem of substantial length published in book form. A collection of poems may consist partly of work previously published in book form, but this work must be clearly identified by the nominator. In such cases the judges will assess only the new work and determine whether it is sufficient, in quantity and quality, to merit an award. A collection of poems may be published in a book containing the work of up to four poets. The judges will exercise their discretion in determining whether the work of the nominated poet is sufficient to make it eligible for an award.

About Kenneth Slessor

The Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry is named after poet and journalist Kenneth Adolf Slessor (1901-1971). Born at Orange, New South Wales, Slessor’s family moved to Sydney in 1903. He began writing poetry as a child, with his first publication, a dramatic monologue, appearing in The Bulletin in 1916. Only a year later, his poem ‘Jerusalem Set Free’ won the Victoria League Prize. Slessor began as a cadet journalist with The Sun and later became editor of Smith’s Weekly, 1935-40, during which period he wrote most of his poetry. He developed close friendships with Norman Lindsay, Hugh McCrae and Jack Lindsay.  Slessor’s appointment as official war correspondent in World War Two took him to Greece, Syria, Egypt and later New Guinea, returning to Sydney in 1944 to work for The Sun. His reputation as poet grew as a result of his published collection One Hundred Poems, 1919-1939, which was reissued several times. In 1957 he moved to the Daily Telegraph where he stayed until his sudden death in 1971.