2018 Creatrix Prize Winners

2018 Creatrix Haiku Prizes. 

Selectors: Amanda Joy, Rose van Son, Coral Carter and Gary De Piazzi


Debbi Antebi–London, UK

the phone cord
mother’s day                (published in Creatrix #41)


Rachel Sutcliffe–England

evening rain
driving over the moon
in a pothole                (published in Creatrix #41)


Minh-Triêt Pham–Paris, France

prison –
on the barbed wire
a love lock                  (published in Creatrix #39)

Matt Hetherington–Brisbane, Queensland

my jumper
over my knees–
the mountains             (published in Creatrix #40)


Bee Jay–Melbourne, Victoria

hospital news
she dead heads
the rose bush               (published in Creatrix #38)

Myron Lysenko–Melbourne, Victoria

Anzac Day
all the little holes
in fallen leaves               (published in Creatrix #40


2018 Creatrix Poetry Prize Winners

Selectors: Peter Jeffery, Shane McCauley and Dorothy McGowan


Kevin Gillam Figue


Virginia O’Keefe Sisters


Ann Gilchrist C.Y. O’Connor’s Horse

Gary Colombo De Piazzi In The Service Of


Mardi May Angry Sea

Veronica Lake Nested Here

Judges’ Comments On Awarding The Creatrix Prize For 2018

In the now established tradition of asking poets who work outside Creatrix To help me with the annual Creatrix awards, I welcome aboard Clancy McGowan and Shane McCauley two important contributors to the history of West Australian Poetry.

Clancy or [as I know her] Dorothy has the record of winning the Tom Collins Prize on three separate occasions a record that is unlikely ever to be broken and this year launched a long awaited book The Face Of The Earth which has been well received by many senior established poets.

Shane McCauley, a key element of OOTA and mentor to many, with some eight books to his credit, is ever in demand as a judge for many literary competitions.

It is becoming a truism that the standard of Creatrix contributions has steadily improved year by year so it is no surprise that our initial long list chosen by the four different co-ordinators and myself reached 33, giving the contestants a one in 5.5 chance of gaining one of the 6 possible awards. In that long list some contestants had up to three recommendations, and still did not get a final place, so diverse were the grounds and models that the judges themselves held. Even there the leading choice of each of the judges did not gain the premier choice. It argues well that WAPI is indeed a site of unity in diversity, and reminds one of the famous Chinese maxim ‘Let a thousand flowers bloom!’


To the awards then with comments individually shared amongst the judges. In most contests the gravitas of tragedy and topical comment generally wins out over comedy and performance. Lyric and epigram too are long starters so thankfully we also have our haiku Competition as well. It was thrilling then to see Mardi May’s Angry Sea edge into the Commended Section



Mardi May, Angry Sea

A spare but powerful poem using the metaphor of sometime sudden violence of the sea, to describe the eruption of rage within the family circle. The child’s recalled fear is brought strongly to bear in the image of the cowering child with a looming human above capable of dispensing a toppling blow.


Veronica Lake, Nested Here

This evokes a sense of ‘oasis’, an escape from life’s vicissitudes very movingly, particularly responded to the image of;

Your metronome breath
marks time passing
And the over-all gentleness of the intimate sharing.



Ann Gilchrist, C.Y. O’Connor’s Horse

The poem maintains a wonderfully energetic atmosphere through an effectively sustained rhythm and occasional rhyme and half rhyme. Despite the centrality of our pioneering engineer in our State’s history the poem skilfully shifts the viewpoint to the galloping horse suddenly shocked by a single shot and only when the horse stands in a calming silence do we understand the enormity of O’Connor’s final act.


Gary Colombo De Piazzi, In The Service Of

This is a wonderful poem which goes straight to the heart of a soldier’s day to day involvement in war in a far-from-home country. The poem haunts the reader with the tension between signing up for duty & avoiding the dice-throw of death while whelmed with thoughts of comfort & love waiting back home.



Virginia O’Keefe, Sisters

The coterie of women transformed by unusual but sustained similes of hornets and other insects make it a very purposeful poem with words precisely and appositely chosen. They dominate the verandah and snipe on all that moves below and/or towards them and maintain their own bastion. Yet, in a gentler way with ‘sweet malice like honey touched Earl Grey’ are critically corrective of each other to hold their sisterhood together.



    Kevin Gillam, Figue

A strong tribute poem seen through the lens of a son’s love & admiration for a father, with its attendant evocative time/place pin-pointing imagery to stretch the canvas with exact tensions.


Rapidly impressionistic like the ‘clattering atop keys’ and the ‘vamping’ of ragtime and ekphrastic mood making with his father’s hands covering ‘all the blacks the poem has the country city push and pull and the bi-linguality of Aussie ‘fig’ and the French ‘figue’ and the triumphant response of the band to the obscurest request at two in the morning as the dance hall empties into dawn.


Two seasons for the fig in Kevin Gillam’s poem and yet another season for Creatrix with the fruit getting better and better each year.




________ my father’s favourite fruit was a fig
________ and, like a fig,
________ my father flowered on the inside

Wagin, 1947, salt lakes and Salmon Gums,
post-war frugality, dance hall, my father the
vamping pianist, railway town, Baptist tracks rattling

________ fig, from the French “figue”,
________ a soft pear-shaped, many-seeded fruit

clattering atop keys, my father’s hands, all the blacks,
not knowing how, the band,
paid in riders, post-gig drinks

________ dun brown the fig or a bruised purple,
________ call it petulant, or shy

sly kinship, the held look, man lingers
over man, my father, call it ekphrastic,
phrases hungering for another’s art

________ fruiting twice each season, ‘breva’,
________ the first crop, on woody stems

my father, Baptist tracks clattering

________ flowering on the inside

            Kevin Gillam               Published in Creatrix 40
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The women in the house on the hill
snipe with careful manners, like orange hornets
darting round hydrangeas on the porch.
The sting is swift, heart stopping, but pain
is relative and hidden, more delayed
than flaunted,
they are adept at lip reading
insults quietly mouthed.
On their dresser teacups
rise in teetering fragility,
the leaves from pots
are read with wonder and sometimes
sweet malice like honey touched Earl Grey.
Should a stranger broach the verandah
they are swept away like desiccated insects
with a stiffened millet broom.
There is no room for other considerations.

            Virginia O’Keeffe        Published in Creatrix 40
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C.Y. O’Conner’s Horse 

The easterlies have breakfasted upon the desert land,
travelled the Darling ranges and swept the coastal plain,
bush flies caught the thermals to Fremantle’s trodden roads,
their maggots supping middens in the new town by the shore.

O’Connor’s horse stood saddled, his stable mate confined,
her rider lies in bed today, the summer heat maligned,
it baked a fever in the street and laid it at her door,
no morning ride with Papa, along the South Beach shore

An engineer of vision, shaping anchorage and groins,
he rode out past his harbour, rubbled stone and berthing bones,
prospectors’ thirsts unwetted by a slander of discourse,
sceptics mocked his pipeline to the goldfields in. the north.

noongar sang him madness and white man called him their,
an engineering masterpiece, defamed and disbelieved,
society rang jeering and it tolled a heavy knell,
dark rhythms in the hoof beats on the fringe of ocean swell.

I wonder if he cantered or galloped to that place,
I wonder if the rider paused to glance across the wave,
the early morning bridle track abandoned on the shore,
a single shot all bloodied as the horse threw off his load

in fright he galloped southward, along the shoreline track,
water shining on his flank, blood splatter on his back
eyes blinded in his startle, death ringing his ears,
pounding in his gleaming chest, his ears pricked up in fear.

He halted in the stillness, grazed scrub along the shore,
discordant shrieks from seagulls, dire weightlessness he wore,
until his reins were taken up, into some passing hands,
retracing frenzied hoof prints, his flight thrashed out in the sand

the sodden corpse discovered, disfigured by its wound
but still the clothes called out his rank in saturated tones,
O’Connor and his rearing horse, a madness caught in bronze,
Rising steed, the unnamed count, in tides that touch the Swan.

            Anne Gilchrist             Published in Creatrix 38
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In the Service of

The sun fires with the staccato
of short shots from a birdless sky.
The intensity of stone
beats back to shrivel air
until each breath
bawls for moisture.
For the cool night with its black
driving deep into this need to rest.

Some days the dust that creeps
into every movement
feels friendly, as if this place
can become home.
Beyond the silence
tiding storms.

Days spent sighting
beyond the barrel of the F88.
Nights to cradle images of home
that expand and contract
in the shift of shadows.
Flow into the scent that corrupts
the wind as eyes become stone.
Haunting, chasing every flutter.

The smell of gun oil
and the taste of yesterday’s rations
amplify this dying.

            Gary Colombo De Piazzi        Published in Creatrix 38
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The Angry Sea

I could never trust the surf
________ that moody shift of sea

my childhood fear
________ of a drowning wave

gurgle of invading water
________ my bubbling breath

the nightmare years
________ fleeing a wall of water

that curved above me like
________ my mother’s raging hand.

            Mardi May      Published in Creatrix 39
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Nested Here

Nested here
mid rumpled sheets,
folded together
in a pleat of time
your limbs lax
soft with sleep

Slatted starlight
dapples our skin;
a nimbus of light
keeping the world distant.
Your metronome breath
marks time passing.

the storm of society
whirls closer
whines like a dog
snarls at the windows
seeking entry.

For the moment
we are snug,
out of life’s continuum,
safe in the eye of the storm,
folded together
nested here.

            Veronica Lake             Published in Creatrix 41
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