Woman walking barefoot along seashore


Competition judges’ comments


‘Prose poetry is where poetry and short fiction meet, melt into each other and take on surprising shapes. ‘On Reaching 45 the Poet Realises She Is Only 23’ is a perfect example, its enjambed verse sentences stretching into a transformation that morphs folklore into psychological lyric, with a bagful of sharp knives and a trickster’s wink. With its hairy paws straddling Russell Edson and Angela Carter, the poem is its own beast.’

– Oz Hardwick, 2019 Aesthetica Creative Writing Award


Mother, I am Your Mother Now emerged as the most assured and deeply affecting of the parental elegies among this year’s entries. A prose poem in eight sections, it begins in the womb – “as jellyfish, velvet worm, nautilus” – and moves by turns through understated, pitch-perfect snapshots of motherhood and suburban domesticity, to the final gut-wrenching phone call with the speaker’s mother on her deathbed. While a prose poem, there is nothing prosaic about its astute balance of rich and relaxed diction, and its hard-won insight and wisdom.’

– Judy Johnson and Jaya Savige, 2019 Newcastle Poetry Prize


‘Audrey Molloy has a direct, engaging style and a gift for powerful images. She has a distinctive voice – ranging from laconic and feral to sardonic and knowing.’

– Magma Editors, 2018 Magma Open Pamphlet Competition


‘Three versions of a similar event reimagined from different attitudes in this earnest yet fun-packed postmodern poem in the voice of an implied fortune-teller. The most exciting element of the poem for me was the sestina style embedded in the prose form, with certain words being repeated in each section. The surface play discloses and obscures as it pleases, so rather than focus on a strong narrative I looked forward to the ways in which words such as ‘Hank’s’ and ‘Walt’s’, from the TV drama Breaking Bad, become ‘hanky’ and ‘waltz’, or the way ‘kleptomaniac’ and ‘Sancerre’ took on a new relevance.’

– Daljit Nagra, 2017 The Moth Poetry Prize


‘Languages I learned in Hell’ by Audrey Molloy ingeniously shows how the conceptual idea of a series of lists of words, phrases and acronyms can offer narrative and emotional insight into loss, the absurdities of modern life and language, and simply getting on with it. Her lists come from the vocabularies of medicine, law, managerialism, even IKEA-speak, covering everything from ‘tussy mussy’ to ‘pre-marital assets’, ‘foetal demise’ to ‘friends with benefits’, along with an ‘allen key’. This is adroit, sharp and affecting all at once.’

– Toby Fitch and Jill Jones, 2016 Judith Wright Prize for Emerging Poets


‘The First Prize winning poem “True Colours” by Audrey Molloy immediately engaged, with its sparking diction and dialogue. Lines such as “loose skin/a catalogue of blue leaks from within” and “like windows to a sea inside you” employ brilliant imagery, and the use of the central metaphors of light and water are tightly sewn throughout. Equally exact is the use of rhyme, aabb for each stanza, but impeccably woven so as not to draw attention. The mixture of humour and wisdom truly creates the picture of this “grey man” – a superb piece of writing and thoroughly deserving of top honours.’

– Kevin Gillam, 2017 Poetry d’Amour Love Poetry Contest


‘Audrey Molloy’s varied and emotive collection focuses on mother-daughter relationships and skillfully explores the many dimensions of female experience and the life of the body. Along with moving poems about the ambiguous influence of institutional religion on children, the experience of depression, loss, and love, comes light-hearted satire on the trials of parenthood and growing up.’

– Vivian Smith, Jane Gibian, and Elizabeth Allen, Noel Rowe Poetry Award 2017-18


‘Audrey Molloy’s ‘Symphony of Skin’ skillfully extends the metaphor from the body (‘timpani buttoned under a cashier’s blouse’) to lovers and ‘the music of skin.’

– Maggie Smith, The Best New British and Irish Poets 2018


‘This poem, by Hennessy Emerging Poetry award winner Audrey Molloy, is superb. In years to come I’ve no doubt it will be studied alongside this stunning 2017 winning poem by Una Mannion.  Compare and contrast.’

– Martin Doyle, the Irish Times, on At the Shell Midden