Heart pump the land where sky are in the bodies we carried.
Tears are reefs where the sea matter more
Lionel Fogarty, Murri poet, Indigenous political activist
When it comes to getting the heads up on the vibrant culture of poetry and poets writing in Melbourne, the city has a unique and world-renowned CBD stronghold, at Collected Works (Level 1, Nicholas Building, cnr Swanston and Flinders Lane, no website, (03) 96548773). Run by Kris and Retta Hemensley, whose knowledge of Australian and world poetry is encyclopaedic, this bookshop stocks poetry collections and journals from around the globe. It also has an active weekly events calendar featuring poetry readings and launches. It is a must-visit for any literary tourist to the city and a direct connector into the city’s energetic and diverse poetry scene and events. Like them on Facebook to get updates.
Melbourne is the headquarters (geographically) for the country’s national poetry organisation, Australian Poetry Ltd (AP), which organises national projects such as the Australian Poets Festival, workshops and online mentoring programs. As one of the resident literary organisations at The Wheeler Centre, AP also runs Melbourne-based events, launches and programs. Our website offers an extensive listing of upcoming events across the poetry community, including courses, festivals, internships, calls for submissions and journals close to our heart. Here at our offices located at the Wheeler Centre, we have a large poetry library focused on past and present Australian poetry, available to access by appointment.
At a time when the poetry is thriving in Australia – with outstanding works being written and published – Melbourne remains a focus for the art: there are multiple major literary journals that publish poetry based in Melbourne, as well as poetry publishing houses that garner extensive readership, critical attention and prizes. These journals include: Australian Poetry Journal and the annual Australian Poetry Anthology; Australian Book Review; Cordite Poetry Review; Overland; Rabbit Poetry Journal; Meanjin; Going Down Swinging; The Lifted Brow; and digital organisations and publications such as work & tumble, The Suburban Review and Scum Mag.
There is also SOd press, who publish experiments in radical poetics. Really amazing work, check them out here.
A range of poetry prizes are offered by these journals, including ABR’s annual prestigious Peter Porter Poetry Prize and Overland’s annual Judith Wright Poetry Prize. The annual Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards also offers a valuable poetry prize, administered through the Wheeler Centre. Additionally, the poetry is also considered within the major triennial literary prize, the Melbourne Prize for Literature.
Melbourne poets write across a range of genres, including experimental, lyrical, digital, slam and performance. Melbourne Spoken Word is a great resource for regular poetry listings. Key resources for regular poetry events listings are run by poet and activist Benjamin Solah.
Monthly event La Mama Poetica is held at La Mama Theatre, located on Faraday Street in Carlton, not far from the CBD.
Some other key links for poetry event info for the city are:
- Passionate Tongues
- Australian Slam
- Voices in the Attic
- Mother Tongue
- Brother Tongue
- Pan Afrikan Poets Cafe
- Girls on Key
- Ms Millies Pop up Poetry Cafe, a once a month gathering involving coffee tea sweets and poetry.
If you believe we’ve missed something important in your state or territory, feel free to let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.