Celebrating 10 years of ACU Prize for Poetry

The Australian Catholic University (ACU) Prize for Poetry, one of Australia's richest poetry prizes, is celebrating a decade this year.

Founded by the Office of the Vice-President in 2013, the ACU Prize for Poetry has become a highly anticipated and respected annual event in the nation's literary scene.

Inspired by the Catholic Church's role as the largest patron of the arts, the prize has supported the emergence of new Australian poets and poetry for 10 years.

Adding their names to the winners list since 2013 are poets Stephen Edgar, Helen Thurloe, Kristen Lang, Mark Tredinnick OAM, Geoff Page, Annie Hunter, John Foulcher, Anna Murchison and 2022's winner Meredith Wattison.

Emeritus Professor Margot Hillel OAM has judged the prize every year since its inception and will continue for the 10th anniversary, along with Professor Robert H F Carver, Director of ACU's Western Civilisation Program.

"It's been a real privilege to be able to read all the poems from right across Australia," Emeritus Professor Hillel said.

"I think the fact that we've got so many entries and such high quality is a testament to how important poetry is in the arts scene in in Australia."

This was especially evident during the pandemic.

"People get a kind of solace from writing poetry. During the pandemic, it really did give people comfort, and there were huge numbers of entries in one of the Covid years," Emeritus Professor Hillel said.

Every year the prize asks poets to reflect on a sole theme. The theme for the 10th anniversary will be Love.

"Love has been a universal theme of poetry forever. Shakespeare and John Donne of course are very famous for their sonnets on love. We are really excited and interested to see what comes up this year," Emeritus Professor Hillel said.

The ACU Prize for Poetry is sponsored by the Office of the Vice-President each year.

Reflecting on a decade of the competition, ACU Vice-President Fr Anthony Casamento said the ACU Prize for Poetry had received 5000 entries since its inception.

"The ACU Prize for Poetry was established 10 years ago to acknowledge that literature, and indeed the arts, is a large contributor to the understanding of the human heart, soul, and mind," Fr Casamento said.

"Some of the greatest ruminations on the human person have been immortalised in poetry, and ACU is delighted to support this important literary form.

"As we celebrate 10 years of the ACU Prize for Poetry, we congratulate all those who have been named winners and highly commended over the life of the competition, and welcome all Australians to take up the challenge to write new poetry in 2023."

Entries are now open for new poetry on the theme of Love, as inspired by Martin Luther King Jr: "I have decided to stick to love...Hate is too great a burden to bear." Entries close on 3rd July.

Visit the ACU Prize for Poetry website for more details on how to enter.

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