Quantum Words 2018 Science Poetry Competition

Presented by Writing NSW, Australian Poetry, and Gleebooks
Judged by Tricia Dearborn, Benjamin Dodds and Jane McCredie

Winners of the Quantum Words 2018 Science Poetry Competition announced!

The Quantum Words 2018 Science Poetry Competition was run by Writing NSW in partnership with Australian Poetry. The poems took many forms, from rhyming couplets to free verse to concrete poems. They also covered a wide range of subject matter, from global warming to epithelial cells, from children’s explorations of the way the world works to the phenomenon of zoonosis.

The winners were announced at Quantum Words on Saturday 3 November. Congratulations to Helen Thurloe, Lorne Johnson and Eileen Chong.

First Prize – ‘Venn diagram’ by Helen Thurloe

Second Prize — ‘On searching for night parrots in western NSW’ by Lorne Johnson

Highly Commended — ‘The numbers game’ by Eileen Chong

Shortlist for Quantum Words 2018 Science Poetry Competition announced!

The poems shortlisted for the Quantum Words 2018 Science Poetry Competition are (in alphabetical order):

‘The matrix’
Jenny Blackford

‘The numbers game’
Eileen Chong

‘On searching for night parrots in western NSW’
Lorne Johnson

‘Powerpoint presentation on the flightless Dasyornis bracypterus (hairy bird; short wing)’
Jack Oats

‘Venn diagram’
Helen Thurloe

The winners will be announced at the Quantum Words 2018 festival of science writing on Saturday 3 November. Winners will be notified ahead of time, and invited to read their poem during the festival. Read the shortlisted poems here: Quantum Words Poetry Shortlist.

Find out more about Quantum Words festival of writing about science here.

Submissions to have now closed for the 2018 Quantum Words Science Poetry Competition.

Submissions open 1 September 2018 and close 11.59 AEST PM 1 October 2018. Entry into the competition is free.

Many famous poets have written poems about science – Dorothy Porter, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman, to name a few – and many in the field of science have written poetry. Announcing the Quantum Words 2018 Science Poetry Competition, run in conjunction with Writing NSW’s Quantum Words science writing festival, and in partnership with Australian Poetry.

Whether you’re a poet, a scientist, or both, we want your science poems! Poems must include or address some aspect of science, but apart from that, your imagination is the limit. Surprise us, delight us, educate us, astound us, entertain us!

– Tricia Dearborn, Benjamin Dodds and Jane McCredie, judges


1st prize
A year’s free membership of Writing NSW, free entry to the Quantum Words 2018 festival, six science titles donated by Gleebooks

2nd prize
A year’s free membership of Writing NSW, free entry to the Quantum Words 2018 festival, a bottle of Yalumba ‘The Scribbler’ shiraz cabernet

Highly Commended
A year’s free membership of Writing NSW, free entry to the Quantum Words 2018 festival.
Winners will have the opportunity to read their prize-winning poem at the festival, or can nominate a judge to read their poem if unable to attend.

Submission Requirements

  • A single poem or linked suite no longer than 24 lines (not including the title)
  • Please also send in a separate file a brief bio (50 words max) and your contact details (email, phone, postal address).
  • Limit of one entry per person.
  • Open to NSW residents only.
  • Entries must be Word files or PDFs. Please use 12 point font and 1.5 line spacing.
  • Poems are judged anonymously. The entrant’s name must not appear in the manuscript.
  • Entry must be the original work of the entrant. Use of any material from another person’s work must be acknowledged.
  • Entries must be previously unpublished, must not have won or placed in another competition, and must not be currently submitted elsewhere. No alterations will be accepted once an entry is submitted.
  • A shortlist of a maximum of six poems will be announced on 22 October 2018.
  • Employees of Writing NSW and Australian Poetry are not eligible.
  • The judges reserve the right not to award a prize.
  • The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.


Send your entry to accounts@australianpoetry.org with ‘Entry for Quantum Words Science Poetry Competition’ as the subject header.


Tricia Dearborn is an award-winning poet whose work has been widely published in literary journals in Australia, online and overseas, and featured in significant anthologies such as Contemporary Australian Poetry, Australian Poetry since 1788 and The Best Australian Poems 2012 and 2010. She has a degree in Chemistry/Biochemistry with Honours in Biochemistry, worked briefly in scientific research, and scientific language and concepts are often central to her poetry. Her third full-length collection, Autobiochemistry (forthcoming from UWA Publishing in 2019), is named for a long autobiographical sequence based on the chemical elements.

Benjamin Dodds’s debut collection Regulator was published by Puncher & Wattmann Poetry in 2014. His poems and reviews have appeared in Best Australian Poems 2014, Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry, Science Made Marvellous, Antipodes: Poetic Responses, Meanjin, Southerly, Cordite and on Radio National’s Poetica program. Before becoming a teacher, he worked as a laboratory technician for the NSW Department of Agriculture. His current poetry project explores a psychotherapist’s ethically troubling cross-fostering of a chimpanzee called Lucy in his family home.

Jane McCredie is a writer and journalist who reviews science books for the Australian and is a regular opinion columnist for the Medical Journal of Australia publication MJAInsight. She is the author of Making Girls and Boys: Inside the science of sex and is a former editor of The Best Australian Science Writing. She is currently the CEO of Writing NSW.



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