There’s a point (and maybe a prize) to poetry during a pandemic

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Canberra poet John Foulcher says he hopes to see a renewed interest in poetry. PHOTO: ACU

National competition opens during a ‘perfect time for poetry’

The Prime Minister may be recommending jigsaw puzzles to get us through months of social distancing, but John Foulcher says it’s as good a time as any to read or write poetry.

“Poetry is somehow our deepest language,” says the Canberra-based poet. “It is the language of the soul, it helps us to explore our deepest selves, and right now all of us are actually being thrown back upon our own inner resources.

“This time we are going through is a time for poetry and I think that’s a really good thing.

“It’s an awful thing to see people losing their jobs, people becoming very sick and dying, but I’m also appreciating this time where everyone is slowing down, everybody is looking at themselves just that little bit more clearly. Poetry helps you to do that.”

ACU poetry prize winner says people have a rare opportunity during the coronavirus pandemic to slow down and reflect.

Last year the former teacher took out first place and $10,000 in the Australian Catholic University’s annual Prize for Poetry. He said it was a great honour and confidence boost to win one of the country’s most coveted poetry prizes against some of the country’s best poets.

Entries are now open for the 2020 competition, which will be awarded for outstanding poetry with the theme of ‘Generosity’, reflecting on the author-poet Katerina Stoykova Klemer’s supposition that “If truth doesn’t set you free, generosity of spirit will”.

“Everyone is looking at themselves just that bit more clearly”

Entries close on 6 July and poems will be judged by eminent poet Professor Chris Wallace-Crabbe AM with winners to be announced in September.

The annual prize is sponsored by ACU’s Office of the Vice-President led by Father Anthony Casamento csma, who said the competition aimed to continue the tradition of the Catholic Church as a key patron of the arts.

“Australian Catholic University is delighted once again to be sponsoring the now-renowned ACU Prize for Poetry in 2020,” Fr Casamento said. “As a university, and a Catholic university, it is fitting that we support this critical prize for the creative arts community in Australia.”

Mr Foulcher said anyone interested should have go at entering this year. “You’ll never get anything out of it if you don’t give it a go,” he said.

For enquires email [email protected] Or visit the ACU Arts and Culture website for details.

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