2021 Creatrix Prize Winners


Judges: Coral Carter, Rose van Son, Barry Sanbrook and Gary De Piazzi


a cabbage moth flirts
with a white peg

Mardi May                                                Creatrix 51


bushfire threatens
I gather my mother’s paintbrushes
and her ashes

Candy Gordon                                           Creatrix 52


old wares store
a thousand tales
told in dust

Gavin Austin                                              Creatrix 50

quilter’s yarn 
I don’t take long 
to lose the thread  

Gregory Piko                                             Creatrix 51


divorcing my wife
the black ice on the road 
to her lawyer

Maya Daneva                                              Creatrix 52

dawn service
magpies fly low
over the crowd

Carol Reynolds                                             Creatrix 53


Judges; Peter Jeffery OAM and Vijay Mishra


              the returned by Virginia O’Keefe         Creatrix 50


              Visa Run: Penang by Peter Burges       Creatrix 52


              metastasis by Yvonne G Patterson      Creatrix 53

              Seafarer by Diana Messervy                Creatrix 53


              Bucephalus by Jan Napier                    Creatrix 50

              Weathered Beauty by Ann Gilchrist    Creatrix 51



I wish to thank the support of the following WAPi members in assessing the CREATRIX 2020-21 submissions for online publication and helping choose the short list for the final judging of the CREATRIX POETRY PRIZE 2021, namely Jan Napier, Anne Dyson, Veronica Lake and Chris Arnold. 

There was a total of 248 entries for all quarterly submissions and the Short List for final judgement was 27. As I alluded last year this publication has improved greatly in quality and quantity and developed several prestigious National Poetry Winners. From the quarterly short lists Virginia O’Keeffe gained 3 selections, almost grand slam, and as always, many worthy contestants missed out by a hairs breadth in gaining the six final places.  

In keeping with selecting judges in the wider local poetry community I am proud to announce that this year Professor Vijay Mishra, Emeritus Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Murdoch University agreed to join me as a co-judge.  He is best known for his critical works on Australian literature, the Gothic, Indian Cinema, devotional poetry, diaspora literature and the writings of Salman Rushdie and V S Naipaul. As a literary critic and theorist Vijay uses a mode of Practical Criticism with which to examine literary genres on an equal basis whether they be memoirs, histories, creative writing or even ficto-criticism. Because of space constraints, only the shorter versions of his evaluation of poems are included here.   

First Prize

the returned by Virginia O’Keeffe

The paradox for humanity is that for necessary security, food, and lessening pain ii must revert to its animality and kill rather than maintain life for civilised peace. In ‘the returned’ Virginia O’Keeffe skilfully descants the life of a typical Australian male where he is ultimately arraigned for his wartime war crime killing as unethical massacre all in the line of ‘patriotic duty’. Her skill of modulating a steady chorus line with the climactic gender changing refrain ‘poor thing, she croons, poor thing’ curbs over-sentimentality with maternal softness as a final soothing response, much as in the response Sister Teresa engenders in asking that in the final moment of dying we can at least hold the hand of the dying person.

Second Prize

Visa Run: Penang by Peter Burges

The mundanity of a visa run finds solace in poetic expression but not without a sense of unease as the personal – the life of the poetic persona – itself may be a little more disturbing. That disturbance, the turmoil, is only hinted at as one turns to poetry to affirm the vibrancy of life, its ‘layered verdancies,’ and its power to give meaning to quotidian life, one’s own and those whose energetic presence is felt by the poet.

Highly Commended

Metastasis by Yvonne G. Patterson

A sister broods on three generations of her family with brother as a son, her father and her grandfathers all caught in a toxic cluster of cytotoxin, nicotine and dioxin that resurrects the horror of the Wilfred Owen’s terrifying call ‘Gas!’ In World War 1 Poetry. The disjunctive patterning of spasmodic rasping coughing onomatopoeia, the obsessive traumatic weaving of rugs of rags, torn, discarded strips, and the arthritic tremble of fingers presage the milk white cataracts that hide battlefields which are igniting still. How hideous it is that the State makes it emblematic for the ideal man to embrace the production of the military industrial complex’s weapons and nicotine. 

Highly Commended

Seafarer by Dianna Messervy

Diana Messervy turns to the genre of prose-poetry to capture and captivate, to turn into poetry a generational narrative centred on a grandmother clock. Time and history move on but the clock’s very presence as a material object gives time a permanence, transforming tick-tock time (the monotonous ticking that signals temporality in a Grandmother Clock) into time charged with meaning, making time part of the body, an affect that informs lived experience.


Bucephelas by Jan Napier

Jan Napier turns to the elegiac mode to remind us of the role of animals in human history. A poem about Alexander’s horse whose life (355-326 BCE) paralleled Alexander’s own (356-323 BCE) is another way of rethinking the great man narrative of history.  Historical moments are seen from a horse’s point of view; an archival past is ransacked and a cultural memory invoked to make it relevant to us here and now


Weathered Beauty by Anne Gilchrist

If you’ve got it flaunt it, Anne’s good time girl is feisty woman incarnate and one of the few character poems that have been submitted this year. She can laugh at herself and enjoy the escalade of a woman for all seasons who ‘obligingly sweet, goes along for the ride’ yet has  

‘a giggle of grandchildren tugging loose lines, scales stuck like sequins to small fishy hands. Her endless transformations are skilfully captured in boisterous alliterative, joyous assonant, and roly poly repetition that provides a joyous portrait to amuse us and provide a desirable template of womanhood.

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the returned

a tiny bird on the drive with a broken wing
you wouldn’t want to see its suffering
he lifted his boot and the deed was done
poor thing he said poor thing

the small child with an addled brain
struggled in his pram boarding the train
while his mother stared away well beyond weary
poor thing he thinks poor thing

an ex digger thumbing with a khaki swag
stumbles with a bottle outside the pub
and he holds out an arm to steady him
poor thing he murmurs poor thing

but in his bed they crowd around at night
soundlessly screaming, eyes without sight
I didn’t want to kill at all he cries
poor thing, she croons, poor thing.

Virginia O’Keeffe

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Visa Run: Penang

South of Songkhla: Muslim country.
More smoky, duller coloured
than Buddhist, yet so alive
in brown eyes, tropical blooms
thrusting hugely through layered verdancies
palpitating languidly.

Waiting for visas to be processed
we breakfast on garlic naan, chicken curry,
dahl, pickles, mango chutney, eggs;
and chai, of course, cup after cup

each slurp across thick-lipped china,
each refreshening kaleidoscope of tastes —
herbs, cinnamon, anisette — so right
morning clicks a bit more into place,
among heightening smells: the Indian boy’s
sweet-and-sour sweat, coke’s acridity,

and sights: greens and browns,
bananas’ bunched voluptuousness
hanging yellow-crescented, bird calls’
blue and turquoise flashings;

make love beneath torn mosquito nets
on blood-stained sheets, bits of wings;
float sky’s expanse, kelp’s long-
stranded bleeding into sea’s
salty placidity; lose ourselves
among dunes’ creamy silences,
burble of voices and thin muzak

blanketing department stores’
high arched foyers where tinted windows
soften midday’s stare while surface gleams
mirror multilayered clichés.

On the Butterworth to Bangkok run
we do not leave our second-class cabin;
sit exhausted, unspeaking, staring out
opposite windows, picking at peeling paint,
fly stains, waiting to cross the equinoctial
where light changes and hiatus collapses
again into manic frenzy, Thai smiles.

Peter Burges

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outside,  my brother hovers.         leans aside
an open doorway, his smile falters            a rasping voice
a hacking cough           dioxin’s orange shadow
burns        weed and nicotine host incursions

slatted light filters my father         his hands weave
rugs of rags, torn, discarded strips           exhaled smoke
fades into nowhere          his terrier snuffles
he waits           in hijacked lungs, cytotoxins mass

nudging embers, grandfather sits             shivers
imbibes his late-night fire           wrestles winter
arthritic fingers tremble           ash falls
milk white cataracts              hide battlefields
igniting still —

Yvonne G Patterson

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When Grandpa dies his clock winds down. It’s taken from the wall and laid out on the table where every Sunday as a boy my husband ate his Grandma’s mutton roast. The ceramic face is cracked, brass weights oily rainbows of neglect. Her glass bears the gravity of years, thin as a matriarch’s skin. My husband’s fingers trace the legend in her dust, a story passed like

DNA, each father to his son. She’s a grandmother clock from the Old World, Boy, by steamship all the way, then from Sydney up the coast, a whale boat, open boat you know, the captain, wife, a new-born babe. The boy imagined both clock and baby, tightly swaddled, lying side by side like siblings for Mother to keep safe and dry. And last, the river trip from Moreton Bay. Did I tell you how they saved her from the flood of ‘93? He would see the captain, tall as Phantom, biceps bulging, hoist the clock above a roiling current; Atlas holding

up the world while Grandma’s upturned table rotated slowly in the foam, and ballooned cows bobbed past, stiff legs pointing to the sky. Each Sunday after lunch, Grandpa polished the clock’s fine boned body of mahogany, buffed and wound her weights. Once he sketched her workings, Look here Boy, this is what she hides behind her face.


On our watch the Captain’s clock puts to sea again. We prepare her for each voyage, oil and gloss her body, remove and polish weights. My husband swathes her in a sheet, lays her in a box, coffin shaped, custom made. Weights and pendulum thickly wrapped, are tucked in tight beside her like provisions for the afterlife. Her absence leaves a faint bruise, clock-shaped, on

our wall. Each time we settle in a far-off place, another wall waits for her to make a foreign space our home. For fifty years the captain’s clock has marked our family decades hour by hour in chimes. Her brass weights still anchor Sundays, unwind our week.

Diana Messervy

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Bucephalus *

Paah! Thirteen silver talents for a Thessalian
that sidles, high steps, strikes so no man may mount? 
Phillip refuses the price. Alexander asks to try.

Atremble, bloody, you stand; the boy’s hand reaching,
strokes sweat from hide black as the shadow you shy from,
circles you sunward, fears falling behind.

The pause before battle, and a muzzle nuzzles in
for an apple carried. Ears flick back to catch commands,
you snatch at the bit, paw, impatient as rider.

Warhorse you watch Persopolis burn, rear white-eyed,
yet quieten at a word, follow at his shoulder
through streets looted by troops redwild with victory.

At Siwah, your master knee deep in water, grins,
lips splitting as his favourite drinks away desert
parch, needs consult no oracle to name you hero.

Issa, and Darius, chariot bolting,
flees the field, the Persian too craven to face
this boy king on his storming stallion.

Ears flattened, you snort, refuse to falter,
charge Rajah’s elephant lines at Hydaspes
through raining spears, flanks streaming crimson.

And when in far off India time conquers that
great heart, Alexander weeps for this first loss,
raises a city where you fall, names you a god.

Jan Napier

* Bucephalus was Alexander The Great’s favourite horse. 

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Weathered Beauty

does my bum looks big in this?

she laughs and creates her own reflection,
she is no raw rookie lost on the seas,
her ancestry was captained by traders and conquerors,
Vikings and pirates in hit and run raids

see, how the water trembles around her,
she’s a mobster’s Madonna, a getaway boat
a giggle of grandchildren tugging loose lines
scales stuck like sequins to small fishy hands

undressed by the sun, she putt-putts through weekends,
roaring with laughter, wheezing with smoke,
a droll diesel dame, just a little bit flaky,
obligingly sweet, goes along for the ride

she wears her curves in all the right places
and when she rocks, she really rocks,
clinker built boards smiling like crows feet,
between red-necked ripples and gossipy quays,
she drifts in a tide decked out with dreams

Ann Gilchrist


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