Ballina Region for Refugees Poetry Prize 2020
in memory of Louise Griffiths – a past member of BR4R
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Ballina Region for Refugees invites submissions to the 2020 Seeking Asylum Poetry Prize.
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.
This year’s competition theme is ‘holding patterns’. We welcome poems of up to 50 lines that consider the variety of roles holding patterns occupy in refugee and asylum seeker experiences.
Planes circle, unable to land. Queues stretch past the horizon. Waiting periods extend beyond memory. Names slide from one form to the next. A backlog of unanswered questions, a hallway that never ends, a compound that never closes. The holding pattern can be approached from a broad variety of perspectives, and contributors may consider the ways in which holding patterns signify delay, disruption and discouragement, bureaucratic complexity, the stasis of legal and financial processes, systematic and institutional structures that obstruct or delay action – but also holding onto, being folded into, patterns of family, friendship, community, and culture.
Cash prizes will be awarded to first, second, and third place winners.
The first-place prize is $300, the second-place prize is $150, and the third-place prize is $50.
NOTE: First price now also includes a digital subscription to The Saturday Paper.
Winning entries will be published in Coolabah, an on-line journal as well as on the BR4R website and newsletter. We also hope to be able to offer paid publication in a special showcase to a limited number of entries from refugees or those seeking asylum to be selected at the journal’s discretion.
The competition opens at 9am on Sunday, 14 June and remains open until 11pm Sunday, 16 August, 2020 AEST. NOTE: Now extended to 31st August 2020
It is free of charge and open to anyone residing in Australia. Entries will be judged by a panel of three poets: Saba Vasefi, Ella Jeffery, and Samah Sabawi.
The Seeking Asylum Poetry Prize was established in 2019
in memory of Louise Griffiths a past member of BR4R.
Saba Vasefi is multi-award-winning writer, journalist, academic, poet and documentary filmmaker. She researches her doctorate of philosophy on exilic feminist cinema studies and teaches at Macquarie University. She writes for The Guardian on the rhetoric of displacement and reports on the narratives of refugees incarcerated in Australia’s detention regime. Her journalistic works have appeared on the BBC, SBS, BuzzFeed, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.
Saba is a Discoursing Diaspora Editor for Verity La creative arts journal. She was twice a judge for the prestigious Sedigheh Dolatabadi Book Prize for the Best Book on Women’s Literature and Issues, as well as for the Ballina Region for Refugees (BR4R) Seeking Asylum Poetry Prize. New South Wales Parliament House recognised Saba’s success in directing the Diaspora Symposium–Social Justice Award, and commended her ongoing contribution to women’s rights and social justice.
Saba’s poems have appeared in a variety of journals including Wasafiri Magazine of International Contemporary Writing in the UK, Australian Poetry Journal, Transnational Literature, and Anthology Solid Air: Australian & New Zealand Spoken Word. She has been awarded the NSW Premier’s Multicultural Medal in Art and Culture; an Honorary Brave Rising Star Award for her courageous writing on the gendered impacts of seeking asylum; the Commonwealth Scholarship, and The National Council of Women Award for her academic research.
Samah Sabawi is a Palastinian multi-award-winning playwright, author and poet, who believes art can be a ‘beautiful resistance’ against injustice, racism and oppression. Her plays include Cries from the Land (2003), Three Wishes (2008), Tales of a City by the Sea (2014) and Them (2019). Sabawi’s essays and op-eds have appeared in many international newspapers. She is a frequent guest and co-presenter on 774 ABC Melbourne’s Jon Faine’s Conversation Hour, where she has appeared alongside Israeli writer Ari Shavit, BBC News New York and UN Correspondent Nick Bryant, actress Miriam Margolyes and others.
Sabawi is a policy advisor to the Palestinian policy network Al Shabaka, and a member of the board of directors of the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations. She participated in various public forums on peace building, women in conflict areas, the Palastinian right of return, as well as various presentations for interfaith groups.
In 2016, Novum Publishing released I Remember My Name: Poetry by Samah Sabawi, Ramzy Baroud and Jehan Bseiso. The anthology featured “deeply personal and deeply political expressions of three gifted Palestinian poets in exile”. The book received the Middle East Monitor’s 2016 Palestine Book Award.
Ella Jeffery is an award-winning poet. She is a recipient of the 2019 Queensland Premier’s Young Publishers and Writers Award and her poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies including Best Australian Poems, Meanjin and Griffith Review. She co-edits Stilts, a digital poetry journal, and holds a PhD from Queensland University of Technology, where she currently teaches creative writing. Dead Bolt is her first book, and won the Puncher & Wattmann Prize for a First Book of Poems in 2019. She lives in Brisbane.