Canberra man turns ‘solace’ into a winning poem

Winning poet John Foulcher

ONCE again a Canberra poet has won the $10,000 Australian Catholic University Prize for Poetry.

John Foulcher received the prize money for his entry “Revising Casuarinas”, selected ahead of “Single Women in Their Later” by Canberra’s Geoff Page who won the $5000 second prize and “October Morning After Rain” by Mark Tredinnick of Bowral, who won the $3000 third prize.

Of note is the fact that Tredinnick won the first prize in 2016 and Page in 2017.

Highly commended were “Last Night on Mount Zion” by Anne Benjamin from Toongabbie, NSW, “The Blackwood River’s Song” by Rose van Son from Burswood, WA, and “The Whale” by Frank Corso from Sydenham, VIC.

Almost 600 poems were submitted from every state and territory and the winner, judged in a “blind” format to ensure impartiality, was chosen from a shortlist of 53.

The office of the vice president at the university, led by Father Anthony Casamento, sponsors the ACU Prize for Poetry with the goal of continuing the tradition of the Catholic Church as a key patron of the arts.

The prize was judged by Australian poet, academic and critic Chris Wallace-Crabbe, who singled out Foulcher’s poem for its “richly coloured response” to this year’s theme of solace.

“True poems are both dense and light, musical and natural, rich and simple,” he said.

“Theirs is an art of concentrating paradox… and telling final truths. All the shortlisted poems this year underwrote such artistic need for balance, colour and – above all – truth. You might say that, in the end they were like strong horses at Flemington, one of which beats several others by a short half head.”

The poems will be published in the 2019 ACU Prize for Poetry chapbook which is available for purchase by emailing

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