Winners 2018

An observational poem filled with city scenes has been selected by judge Louise Wallace as the winner in the National Schools Poetry Award 2018. Ilena Shadbolt, from Wellington’s Queen Margaret College, won the Award with her subtly crafted poem ‘Vignettes’, conveying a nervous tension between the two people present in the poem. Louise Wallace praised the poet’s ‘natural voice’ and the way ‘everything in it works towards building distance, as an outsider looking in’.

Louise noted that the writers behind the 175 entries received this year ‘are engaging sharply with the world around them, writing about gender, culture and identity, feminism and #metoo, our changing environment and its implications.’ She says of the winning poem and nine finalists, ‘The voices of these young writers were ones I had not heard before. They challenged me and surprised me. These writers conveyed their own unique perspectives; a slice of life from their point of view. I travelled from the computer lab to Vietnam, from maunga to Antarctica. They gave me a specific picture – although I’d never been to any of these places, I knew exactly where I was.’

The National Schools Poetry Award has been providing a forum for young writers in Aotearoa New Zealand since 2003. If you would like to join us in fostering the work of our most promising writers, please consider becoming a sponsor or prize partner for the Award.

Chris Price
International Institute of Modern Letters,
Victoria University

2018 Award winner : Ilena Shadbolt – ‘Vignettes

Finalists : Cybella Maffitt – ‘Viêt Nam Departed

Finalists : Anna Doak – ‘Summer in Antartica

Finalists : Harriet Carter – ‘they ask why i don’t wear makeup

Finalists : Catherine Davidson – ‘Mother and Child

Finalists : Ruby Rae Macomber – ‘Pasilangi Pasifika and Palangi

Finalists : Patricia Alcartado – ‘honest pleas in crude crayon

Finalists : Stella Stevens – ‘I Am Waiting for You

Finalists : Cerys Fletcher – ‘Ballad of the computer lab

Finalists : Kushla Siemonek – ‘He Sailed Away


Read the press release
Read the Judge’s Report
Read previous winning and shortlisted poems