Australian poet Anne Elder (1918–1976)

It is with great pleasure that Australian Poetry announces the winning and commended poetry books for the 2019 Anne Elder Award.


The award is named after Australian poet, Anne Elder, 1918-1976. Sponsored by Anne’s daughter, Cathie, this prestigious, national, annual award is for a sole-authored first book of poetry of 20-minimum pages in length, published in Australia. Established in 1977, the prize has offered important recognition to poets at a critical point in their writing lives, and its alumni represent some of Australia’s best-known and highly respected poets. This is the second year Australian Poetry has run the award.

The 2019 award is for books published in Australia between 1 January 2019 and 31 December 2019. The winner is awarded $1,000. This year, with two co-winners, they will receive $500 each.

Australian Poetry would like to thank this year’s judges: Gig Ryan, Marcella Polain and Rae White, whose comments on the joint winning titles are below. The judges are all alumni of the Award, having won or been commended for their own first collections.


Joint Winners:  Cham Zhi Yi for blur by the and Gareth Sion Jenkins for Recipes For The Disaster


‘blur by the’

by Cham Zhi Yi,

Subbed In

“Cham Zhi Yi’s ‘blur by the’ is a refreshingly innovative exploration of the doubled identities of a Malaysian past and Australian present, of distance and proximity, and their gradual convergence into an independence that defies either tradition. Her poem ‘Throwaway Lux’ asks: “what does it take to recall a person into a language?” and these poems circle around pangs of nostalgia, with Chinese and Malay occasionally sprinkled through a subtly politicised English. Blacked-out redactions imply what must be hidden, expelled, or lost through exile, as poems unfold their acute, and often bemused, observations of contemporary life in originally patterned layouts and rhythmic structures.”

Zhi is a Malaysian woman currently based on Ngunnawal and Ngambri country which now exists as the esoteric wormhole known as Canberra. She is a believer of deep joy mediocrity and aspires to full time tenderness. She is best digitised on instagram @chamzhiyi.



‘Recipes For The Disaster’

by Gareth Sion Jenkins

5 Islands Press

“Gareth Sion Jenkins’s ‘Recipes for the Disaster’ is a destabilising travelogue of love, friendship, and adventure that evokes an irresolvable tension between familiarity and strangeness: “Voices unbroken by fences, dismantled by distance”. Jenkins’s language, ranging from laconic humour to intoxicating description, continually unsettles interpretation. Characters ignite against each other in an interdependence that forms recurring connections and epiphany, particularly through some hallucinatory near-death experiences haunted by the unreliability of memory. Along with vivid incantatory sequences describing these charged inner and outer landscapes, Jenkins observes the globalised homogeneity of the modern city.”

Gareth Sion Jenkins lives in Sydney with his wife and daughter. He has taught poetry and poetics in schools, youth centres, universities, libraries and prisons.

His masters in psychology was spent measuring the brain’s frontal positive slow wave and his doctorate exploring the schizophrenic writing and artmaking of Anthony Mannix. He is the editor of The Toy of the Spirit (Puncher & Wattmann), the first book-length publication of Anthony’s collected writings.

Gareth’s poetry and theoretical work has been widely published. His poetry-film collaborations regularly screen at festivals around the world. He makes and exhibits text-based art at Square One Studios.

More can be found on his website:




Commended Titles:


‘The Empty Show’ by Alice Allan

Rabbit Poets Series

Alice Allan is a writer and editor living in Melbourne. She publishes the podcast Poetry Says, where she interviews poets from Australia and overseas.



‘The Things the Mind Sees Happen’ by Belinda Rule

Slow Loris series / Puncher & Wattmann

Belinda Rule’s poetry chapbook, The Things the Mind Sees Happen, was published with Puncher & Wattman in late 2019. Her work has appeared widely in journals and anthologies including Best Australian PoemsMeanjinIslandWesterlyAustralian Book Review and The London Magazine. She has been a history academic and a university administrator, and now works for a medical college. Her interests include wild sourdough baking and crushing the patriarchy.