Two poets have taken out joint first poetry prize in this year’s Griffith University Josephine Ulrick Prizes.Victorian Chloe Wilson and Queenslander Sarah Holland-Batt each won $7500 for their poems. In the Literature Prizes, Dr Tessa Lunney and Melissa Goode, both from NSW won first prize ($10,000) and second prize ($5000) respectively.

“It’s a tremendous honour to win equal first prize, particularly as the shortlist contained a number of distinguished poets,” Chloe said.

‘The idea for my poem, ‘Bloodwork’, came from a documentary on self-experimenters which contained a segment on Russian physician Alexander Bogdanov. Bogdanov hoped he would be able to achieve eternal youth through regular blood tranfusions, but unfortunately infected himself with a number of diseases and died.”

Terrorism and militarism

Sarah said she was delighted to be awarded the prize by this year’s judges Judith Beveridge and Anthony Lawrence. “They are two of Australia’s finest poets whose work I admire greatly,’’ she said.

Her winning suite of poems‘Terror: A Troika‘ is part of a larger project she is undertaking investigatingthe discourse of terrorism and militarism.

Dr Tessa Lunney’s short story ‘Chess and Dragonflies’ won the literature prize.

She said the inspirationfor her storycame from a combination of podcasts about WWI, herRussian husband’s family history and her doctoral research on silences in war fiction.

“Winning this prize is fantastic and has had effects both professionally and personally,’’ she said.

“Professionally, I was noticed by publishers even as a shortlistee, so winning has made publisher interest in my work and in my developed novel in particular, more intense.

Professional writing connections

“I have also been noticed by other writers and made professional connections through the prize and the ceremony. Personally, it is gratifying, exciting, and affirming to be noticed in such a public way, by such excellent judges. Also, at eight months pregnant and still working by the hour, it means I can afford my maternity leave!”

For Melissa Goode, having her story placed second for the Josephine Ulrick LiteraturePrize is an honour.

“That such smart judges chose my story will keep me going, especially inthose moments when my faith is flagging,’’ she said.

“The story that became ‘A crack in the teacup‘ has lived in my head for a long time. I am fascinated by the scars (both physical and metaphorical)that people suffer in childhood that are then carried through into their adult lives.

“I also love the poetry of WH Auden and sometimes find his lines repeating in my mind, like an internal rhythm or beat.”

Among the richest poetry and short story prizes in Australia, the Griffith University Josephine Ulrick prizes offer $30,000 in prize money.