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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.

Past winners

2022
accelerations & inertias
Vagabond Press
Winner
2021
Throat
University of Queensland Press
Winner
2020
Cover image of the book Enfolded in the WIngs of a Great Darkness.
Vagabond Press
Winner
2019
Interval Book Cover
University of Queensland Press
Winner
2018
Cover image of Argosy
Vagabond Press
Winner
2017
Book cover for Ghostspeaking by Peter Boyle
Vagabond Press
Winner

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.

The Judging Panel

Photo of Lachlan Brown

Lachlan Brown

Chair

Lachlan Brown is a senior lecturer in English at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga. He is the author of Limited Cities (Giramondo, 2012) and Lunar Inheritance (Giramondo, 2017). Lachlan's poetry has been published in various journals including Antipodes, Cordite, and Rabbit.

He has previously been involved in judging the Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize and the Mary Gilmore Poetry Prize. Lachlan currently is the vice-president of Booranga Writers Centre in Wagga Wagga and the NSW representative for the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL).

Felicity Plunkett

Felicity Plunkett

Felicity is an award-winning poet and critic. She is the author of A Kinder Sea (UQP), Vanishing Point (UQP) and the chapbook Seastrands (Vagabond), published in Vagabond Press’ Rare Objects series. She edited Thirty Australian Poets (UQP, 2011).

Felicity has a PhD from the University of Sydney and was Poetry Editor with University of Queensland Press for nine years. She is a widely-published reviewer and critic, and a respected mentor of other writers.

Eileen Chong

Eileen Chong

Eileen Chong is a poet based in Sydney, Australia. She was born in Singapore of Chinese descent. Her poetry collections are Burning Rice (2012), Peony (2014), Painting Red Orchids (2016), and Rainforest (2018), all from Pitt Street Poetry, Sydney. Her most recent collection is A Thousand Crimson Blooms from the University of Queensland Press, released in April 2021.

Chong writes about food, family, migration, love and loss. The Singaporean-Australian poet Boey Kim Cheng has said that ‘Chong’s work offers a poetry of feeling, rendered in luminous detail and language, alive to the sorrows and joys of daily living.’