The Kathryn Purnell Poetry Prize

The Kathryn Purnell Poetry Prize 

The winners of the Kathryn Purnell Poetry Prize 2023 are:

  • Ist Prize:  Gillian Telford  (Suitable - UK1950's)
  • 2nd Prize:  Beverly Lello  (Ngarigo Country)
  • 3rd Prize:  Paige Spence  (National Air and Space Museum)
  • Highly commended: Keely Mewett  (Storyteller)
  • Highly commended: Emily Edwards (Streets of Elysium)


  • Darrelle Spenceley (She writes)
  • Mary Jones (Silver Birch)
  • Beth Clapton (Regent Honeyeater)
  • Shoshana Rockman (Green Dream)
  • Beth Clapton (Seeking Yvonne)

Congratulations to all the winners and shortlisted participants. This years judge was Angela Costi, who is a poet, playwright, essayist and reviewer with backgrounds in social justice and community arts. Read the judges report here.

This competition was open to members of The Society of Women Writers in all states and women writers who are non-members.

The Kathryn Purnell Poetry Prize is awarded for a poem of no more than 50 lines, this biennial award is named in honour of a much-loved member of SWWV.

Kathryn was born in Canada and lived in France, England, Scotland, Egypt, Indonesia and Africa. When she married an Australian she moved permanently to Melbourne. Kathryn continued her education at the University of Melbourne and became a creative writing tutor. Her poetry and prose was published in many magazines and broadcast on ABC radio. She was an editor in the Luna collective and won many awards for her work.

Kathryn Purnell ran poetry workshops in her home for members, who greatly benefited from her expertise and mentoring. She edited a number of poetry anthologies on behalf of SWWV.

After her death, the Society set up the Kathryn Purnell Poetry Prize in her honour. It is open to SWW members in all branches and non-members.

Previous Winners

The 2021 winners were:

You can read Tegan Schetrumpf’s judges report here.

The 2019 winners were:

The 2017 winners were:

  • First Prize: ‘You Are…’ by Mary Jones
  • Second Prize: ‘Washing Her Hair’ by Lorraine McGuigan
  • Third Prize: ‘Nest’ by Lorraine McGuigan
  • Honourable Mention: ‘Kangaroo’ by Lorraine McGuigan, and ‘A Poet Speaks To Her Progenies’ by Rhonda Poholke

The 2015 Kathryn Purnell Poetry Prize was won by Judith Green.

How to Enter


1. The Society of Women Writers Victoria Monthly Meeting
2. Publication in the Society of Women Writers Victoria newsletter – Write Away August edition.
3. Posting to the SWWV website

Good luck!

Key Dates

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