Brushstrokes (Ros Spencer Poetry Contest Anthology 2016-2019)

The poems in the anthology, we believe, make for pleasurable and thoughtful reading. They are meditative and dramatic, celebratory and regretful, loving and elegiac, take place in the country, the city and suburbs, were written by both women and men – we have made no attempt to count the ratio – and by both well-known poets and emerging voices. Whatever we think, the poems remain resolutely themselves, and await your interpretation; they certainly offer a reader’s engagement.

Entries were drawn from over Australia but the poems’ settings were not necessarily Australian at all: the poems reflect an internationalised word of travel and immigration. One notable feature is the absence of a declarative Australianness or modernity; the resurgence of nationalism is a feature – an often disturbing one – of contemporary politics but it did not appear in the poems. Perhaps good poetry requires a deeper empathy. Also, there was almost no evidence of the self-conscious Modernism or Post-modernism apparent in much Australian poetry from the 1960s to at least the end of the twentieth century. While some poems are experimental, for example in spacing across the page, there has been so much experiment in English language poetry in the twentieth century that it now seems hard for any practice to seem deeply avant-garde. Poetic technique has largely settled down; in the poems submitted there was little extravagant diction and little philosophical sense that words cannot map reality, except in satirising those who think that way. This is valuable in any attempt to again diffuse an appreciation of poetry amongst a general public that has long lost the habit of reading it.

Dennis Haskell and Rose van Son (selectors)

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Carolyn Abbs

Davide Angelo

Wendy Beach

Nicki Blake

Alison Bonner

Peter Burges

Coral Carter

Josephine Clarke

Tim Collins

Gary Colombo De Piazzi

Edie Eicas

Brenda Downing

David M. A. Francis

Fran Graham

Ann Gilchrist

Kevin Gillam

Mike Greenacre

Debi Hamilton

Jenifer Hetherington

Siobhan Hodge

Chloe Hosking

Rory Hudson

Ross Jackson


Peter Jeffery

Amanda Joy

Barbara Kamler

Simone King

Christopher Konrad

Veronica Lake

Roland Leach

Alison Lesley

A R Levett

Marjorie Lewis-Jones

Amy Lin

Rose Lucas

Shey Marque

Shane McCauley

Celeste McDermott Healey

Jacqui Merckenschlager

Max Merckenschlager

Suzi Mezei

Scott-Patrick Mitchell

Colin Montfort

Jan Napier

Damen O’Brien

Allan Padgett

Yvonne G Patterson

Indrani Perera

Renee Pettitt-Schipp


Gregory Piko

Janelle Rebgetz

Frances Richardson

Norma Schwind

Ellen Shelley

Laurie Smith

David Stanley

Kylie Sturgess

David Terelinck

Rita Tognini

Brian Walsh

Kim Waters

Colin Young