CANBERRA’S Geoff Page is the 2020 winner of the Australian Catholic University Prize for Poetry for his poem “Jericho”, it was announced last night (September 21).
It’s the second time he’s won the $10,000 prize, having taken out first prize in 2017. He also won second prize last year, but ACU stresses that judging for the competition is completed in a blind format to ensure impartiality.
Page’s winning poem was selected ahead of “Footprints” by Fiona Lynch from Elwood in Victoria, who won the $5,000 second prize and “Atlas Carried the World” by Damen O’Brien from Wynnum in Queensland, who took out the $3,000 third prize.
The announcements were made in a short video presentation featuring ACU vice chancellor and president professor Greg Craven, and the judge of the prize, Chris Wallace-Crabbe announcing the winners, and all the winners reading their poems.
In accepting the prize by video, Page said it served as a reminder that universities were once communities of scholars, not big corporations and that the Catholic church had been supporting the arts for a couple of millennia. As an agnostic, he said, the ACU had not insisted on “their own ideology” in awarding poems.
It wasn’t often at this late stage in his life, he said, to find a panel that “agreed with you aesthetically”, since “quite often the younger generation comes through with slightly different ideas”.
Wallace-Crabbe, for his part, said, “Poetry can speak to us all, but in many creative hats and guises”, singling out Page’s poem for its richly coloured response to this year’s theme, “Generosity”.
ACU vice president, Father Anthony Casamento, whose office sponsors the ACU Prize for Poetry, said, “The process of artistic creation points to the transformative life that offers joy and hope, which in these unprecedented times is as important as ever”.
More than 500 poems were submitted from every state and territory across Australia, with Page’s poem chosen from a shortlist of 45.
The poems will be published in the 2020 ACU Prize for Poetry Chapbook, available for purchase by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org