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Poetry Prize 2020

Ballina Region for Refugees (BR4R) Poetry Prize 2020

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BR4R (Ballina Region for Refugees), in collaboration with Southern Cross University, will be conducting the Poetry Prize again in 2020.

The prize celebrates the positive contributions refugees make to our communities and acknowledges the circumstances that forced them flee their homelands and request refuge in Australia.

The details for this year are still being finalised so keep your eyes on this spot.

If you’d like to be informed when the details are available, send a message through our Contacts page.

Results for the

BR4R (Ballina Region for Refugees) & Southern Cross University

2019 Seeking Asylum Poetry Prize

The winning poem was Lost and Found’ by Rebecca Sargent and is reproduced below.  It was also published in the journal ‘Social Alternatives’

We congratulate Rebecca on her poem and she received a $1,000 cash prize that was provided by an anonymous donor specifically for this competition.

We also announced 3 runners up ….

        ‘Flensed’ by Greg Molyneux (click to view)

        ‘Hope’ by Michele Poole (click to view)

        ‘Pirouette’ by Bridget Thomas (click to view)


     We will be running this competition again in 2020 so keep you eye on this page for the announcement of entry date and conditions.  




Winner  2019

Lost and Found

by Rebecca Sargeant

A wedding dress in a pickle jar.
A baby’s cry in a crowded bar.
A birthday cake in a biscuit tin.
A little boy’s shoes on a tidal whim.
Did you learn to swim
……….on the outstretched hands
……………….of a motherland?

A toothbrush on a sailing ship.
A photo in a rubbish tip.
A lipstick shade in a harsher light.
A word that slipped during the night.
Does thunder crack
……….your bones into
……………….a jigsaw map?

Pallet strapping in a bird’s nest.
A broken heart in a treasure chest.
A deserted dessert in a desert.
A desert girt by sea.
Does the sun rise
……….in the east or west?
……………….Do you need some rest?

Rest and lay your weary head
……….on the pillow of words you thought were dead.
Rest and wipe your teary eyes
……….on the fabric of our human lives.
Rest and plant your broken dreams
……….in soils fertile of communal means.
Rest and spread your sacred wings
……….and fear not for what tomorrow brings. 


Runners Up 2019


by Greg Molyneux

A figure flickers between the urban streetlights
darting from one pool of shadow to the next.
Hair blacker than dried ink trails languidly
rejecting the silence; the audio shrapnel.
This is the long quiet between explosions
the time of stray bullets, the overdue attack, the ambush.
A measured breath quietens the quickening pulse
the murmur of suburban noise grounds her.
She remembers; I made it out alive,
even if life and living are different
and memories cut like knives.
The war zone is long past gone
but not the depth of her sorrow
like the lowest point of the ocean swell
sinking the boat which floated her
or the bearded sailor who saved her
and brought her to the Lucky Country.
She made it, but not her husband;
the teacher, volunteer, medic.
She made it, but not her son;
the boy who waved to soldiers.
She made it, but not her daughter;
the girl who bandaged her toys.
But she made it
in the Lucky Country.



by Michele Poole

The night falls without a sound, fearful am I,
evil haunts my mind like an ungodly force.
Planes, missiles, soldiers,
rubble, screams, rockets firing.
These are my dreams, erupting in the night.
Tragic ending of my generation destroyed,
swept away by madness, all hope is disappearing,
like a never-ending black hole.

Around, the dark memories gather,
mourning of my husband. My dread grows as the
angry hand of Heaven falls against my heart.
It mutilates me, and darkly my life’s blood drips
to the wicked earth that is my prison.
In my madness, I cry out, while Hell laughs cruelly.
I hear the screaming of kids, buried
underneath the rubble.

I see an electrolier, silently still, not moving.
My phone is my connection, to the living and the lost.
Freedom is an imagination, a place to hope,
something to dream and explore.
I am seeking Asylum.
A place where my children can laugh, play and
discover. A haven that they are not
afraid of death.

I dream when the torture in my mind, escapes
like an animal released from its cage.
My child asks, “can I take any toys?”
My son says, “we can learn English.”
I mourn within, leaving my mother.
“I’m too sick to travel,” she says.
The night falls in a heavy, suffocating
cloak, soulless are we.

The salvation for which I pine.
“It’s time to go,” I say to my relatives.
My passion for life throbs no more. How could
you tear us asunder?
I watch the crumbling buildings, the bombed
shopping centre, the playground with the
eerie spirits of time passed.
The decision to leave this forsaken place.

Memory of my husband having breakfast,
Then, with a click of a finger, disappears,
with a black hood on his head,
his helpless arms tied around his neck.
I still hear the screaming of my children.
He promises them a pony.
I feel the angels surround us, crying,
saving us from ourselves.

Hope is far yet, within reach.
I am seeking Asylum.



by Briget Thomas

She hears her grandfather in the patio
tuning the strings of the oud with delicate focus,
then, outstretching his fingers to form chords
across the wooden neckboard, their shapes
resembling patterns
in the dot-to-dot colouring-in books
she spends her afternoons on,
connecting lines toward the direction of each number:
felt-tip pen in hand, the gradual reveal
of a puzzle on its way to completion

For her grandfather, the oud
is an atlas.
Not just an instrument,
but a map to the resolution of chord progressions,
harmonic destinations
form his tonal homes.
Out in the garden, his granddaughter spins
in time with the music,
the dead eucalyptus leaves falling
in the dry heat of the air.

In a crowded bazaar
On the other side of the world,
a tan-lined tourist shakes a snowglobe
purchased from a souvenir stall.
The glittery snow behind the glass
falls like dried eucalyptus leaves
pirouetting down from the thirsty trees