Seeking Asylum—Holding Patterns: The 2020 Ballina Region for Refugees Poetry Prize

Bill Boyd, Emma Doolan, Ruth Henderson


Poetry provides valuable and insightful ways to explore and record social and political experiences and engagements. The plight of refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia is well known. Community groups such as the Ballina Region for Refugees provide support to refugees and asylum seekers both in Australia and offshore. To help raise awareness and validate the experience of refugees and asylum seekers, the Ballina Region for Refugees runs an annual Poetry Prize. The 2020 Ballina Region for Refugees Poetry Prize theme was Seeking AsylumHolding Patterns. This article presents the winning and highly commended poems, along with poems by refugee and asylum seeker poets. Poems from both insider witnesses – refugees and asylum seekers – and outsider witnesses – poets who seek to express an empathy with the plight of refugees and asylum seekers – have contributed to this collection. From haunting statements of human dissolution that should strike fear into anyone’s heart, through glimpses of hope, the poems explore the trails of asylum seeking and the dysfunctionality of the aftermath. 


refugee; asylum seeker; poetry; social advocacy; writing for social justice; poetry as social activism; insider witness

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