Annual General Meeting and Spilt Ink Winners

A warm and friendly gathering of members attended OOTA’s Annual General meeting on Saturday, 27 October, 2018 at the Fremantle Arts Centre.

Members were pleased to adopt outgoing President Julie Watts report on another successful year supporting and encouraging members and WA writers in their various writing activities.

Treasurer Leanne Searle reported that the association was financially healthy largely due to an increase in membership and enhanced fundraising.

Membership Coordinator Richard Regan reported an increase in membership from 92 in 2017 to 107 as of the date of the AGM.

Secretary Rita Tognini reported that due to changes in the legislation governing clubs and associations, there was a need to update our constitution. A motion to replace the current constitution with the Model Rules recommended by the Department (DMI&S) was unanimously accepted and, after ratification by the Department, the new Rules will be posted on our website.

Rita also conducted the elections for the new committee and the following were elected unopposed

2018-19 Committee:

Veronica Lake: President

Julie Watts: Vice President

Rita Tognini: Secretary

Leanne Searle: Treasurer

Richard Regan: Membership

Marlish Glorie: Ordinary Member

Jan Napier: Ordinary Member

Jenny Jones: Ordinary Member

Peter Burges: Ordinary member

Rose Van Son: Ordinary Member

A vote of thanks to Julie for all her hard work over her years as President was unanimously approved. Thanks were also voted for outgoing committee members Maureen Gibbons and Rae Hillhorst.

The meeting also included the announcement of winners of OOTA’s biannual Spilt Ink Competition.

The Prose category was judged by Rosemary Stevens whose report may be viewed here. The winners were: 

First Prize - Josephine Clarke - Looking for the Grain

Second Prize – Tracey Feakes - His Dog

Third Prize – Tracey Feakes - Christmas Cheer

Highly Commended - Rod Mackay - Moscow Heat

Highly Commended - Eugenia Howell - The Promise 

The Poetry category was judged by Marcella Polain, whose report may be viewed here. The winners were: 

First Prize - Kevin Gillam - small religion

Second Prize - Kevin Gillam - Airfix hours

Third Prize - Jan Napier - The Bridge

Highly Commended-  Kay Cairns - Wacol Migrant Hostel

Highly Commended - Josephine Clarke - It is Enough

A vote of thanks was approved to both Rosemary and Marcella for their work judging the competition.

Following the awards incoming President Veronica Lake introduced the 2019 OOTA Anthology on Place.  

Theme: Place.


Poetry 50 line limit

Short Stories: 1,500 word limit

Flash Fiction: 500 word limit.

Previously published and unpublished work will be accepted

Closing date: possibly end of April, to be confirmed.  

The anthology will be launched in August and members further details will be published in Network Tuesday as details are firmed up. Entry in the anthology will be confined to OOTA members.


Jo and Kevin.jpg

OOTA member and well known Western Australian poet Kevin Gilliam has launched his new collection of poems.

“the moon’s reminder” is Kevin Gillam’s fourth book of poetry, published by Ginninderra Press. Broken into 5 chapters the poems embrace the profoundly intimate, in “mothers (and others)” to the completely philosophical, in “moons”. John Kinsella, in awarding 1st Prize to the poem “figue” (KSP Awards 2017) described the writing as “honed, balanced, modulated, intertextual and also disturbingly personal”.

An enthusiastic crowd of OOTA members and friends joined Kevin and well known poet and prose author Josephine Clarke who officially launched the book on Saturday afternoon on July 21 in the Pavlich Room, Fremantle Arts Centre. You can read Josephine's speech here.



VERONICA LAKE is our relief Prose teacher for Term 3. Veronica will conduct 5 workshops commencing Friday 27th July, 10th & 24th August and 7th & 21st September. Classes commence at the usual time of 1pm - 3pm and OOTA members pay $25 and NON OOTA $30. If you are a member of Writers United WA the cost is also $25 (cash only). Your support of the Prose class and Veronica will be gratefully appreciated. 
Venue: Fremantle Arts Centre, upstairs in the Print Room, 1 Finnerty St. Fremantle.

Veronica Lake completed an Honours Degree in Arts at the University of Western Australia (1974), with a double major in English and a Diploma of Education (1975). She also completed a Post Graduate certificate at the University of Melbourne for the study of Shakespeare, (2009). In 2010, Veronica was awarded a Churchill Fellowship for the study of Shakespeare in the theatre companies of England, Ireland and Canada. She has participated in many writing workshops and attended professional development courses as a teacher, which focus on creative writing – both prose and poetry. 

Veronica has been a teacher of Literature and English in W.A. high schools for many years, including Applecross Senior High. She edits and publishes Primo Lux, a state-wide student anthology of poetry, now in its sixteenth year. Student creativity aroused her desire to write poetry and prose which began in 2009. She enjoys patterns of language, structure and the shaping of voice. Veronica has always been interested in language and the sound of words from brain to paper and into the atmosphere. She has had a few short stories published and is still working on the construction of her craft with success in traditional forms; sonnets, dramatic monologues, rhyming narrative and free verse. Her subject matter is drawn from everyday life and personal experience. It is important for her to ‘hear’ the rhythm of lines spoken, and because of her Literature background enjoys alluding to classical stories with characters and references drawn from myths or studied texts. 


OOTA's (Out of the Asylum) Spilt Ink Competition 2018 is open to all financial members of writing organisations affiliated with Writers United WA.


Poetry (max 30 lines) and Short Fiction (max 2000 words) - Separate judge for each category

Writers may submit up to three entries in each category

Entry Fees

Poetry - $10 for one poem; $25 for two or $20 for three

Short Fiction - $10 for one short fiction; $18 for two or $25 for three


First Prize - $200 plus Bookshop Voucher ($50)

Second Prize - $100              Third Prize - $50

Winners will be announced at the OOTA AGM in October and winning entries listed on the OOTA website.

Competition guidelines available here.

Entry Forms available here.

Submission deadline: 31 August 2018


Julie Watts.jpg

24 February 2018

OOTA is proud to announce that its President and Western Australian poet Julie Watts has won the 2018 Dorothy Hewett Award for her ‘Legacy,’ the first poetry manuscript to win the $10,000 prize.

In the judges report, ‘Legacy’ was described as a volume that ‘explores the templates and legacies of our internal and external worlds, the psychological inheritance we share and pass on, the interplay between the prime influence of nature and nurture and the crucial, inherent drive for connection.’ Julie was praised for her poetry’s ‘delicate strength’ and ‘maturity of voice and craft.’

The 2018 judges’ panel consisted of Lucy Dougan, poet and niece of Dorothy Hewett; James Ley, literary critic and Contributing Editor of Sydney Review of Books; and Terri-ann White, Director of UWA Publishing. There were ninety-nine entries in the 2018 award.

‘Legacy’ will be published as part of the UWAP Poetry imprint, in October 2018.

The Dorothy Hewett Award is co-funded by the Copyright Agency and supported by UWA Publishing’s, ‘The Monthly.’

Congratulations Julie.




A large, cheerful group of OOTA members gathered in the Pavillion in the grounds of the Fremantle Arts Centre for the annual OOTA Christmas party on Friday 8 December.

Sharing an eclectic selection of dishes, each prepared by the members themselves, accompanied by sparkling, and red and white wines, members enjoyed several hours of convivial, stimulating conversation and good company.

The celebrations were punctuated by several acts of recognition together with prose and poetry readings.

Jan Napier paid tribute to the work of poetry tutor Shane McCauley, who recently presented his 300th poetry class for OOTA and whose tutoring and encouragement have resulted in many members successfully obtaining the publication of their poems.

Following Jan, Liz Hearnden paid similar tribute to prose tutor Helen Hagemann, whose workshops and critiquing classes have been an invaluable source of information and inspiration to OOTA’s prose writers.

Maureen Gibbons then spoke in recognition of the support and encouragement provided to OOTA by Catherine Noske, the General Editor of Westerly, in whose pages many OOTA members have enjoyed seeing their works published. Catherine is soon to be married and Maureen presented her with a gift on behalf of the Committee, together with their very best wishes for her future happiness.

The afternoon was completed by a series of member readings. Rachael Petridis and Gael Williams treated members to selections of their poetry, while Jo Clarke, Rose van Son and Leanne Searle read three very different, but equally entertaining short stories.

The OOTA Committee wishes members and their families all the very best for the festive season, and looks forward to another productive and stimulating year of prose and poetry in 2018.


Poet Jackson.jpg

Poet, editor and OOTA member Jackson has secured the publication of her third poetry collection. The new volume, entitled A coat of ashes, will be published in 2019 by Canberra publisher Recent Work Press.

Jackson’s previous collections include Coracle published in 2009 and Lemon oil published by Mulla Mulla Press in 2013.

Poet and editor Jackson was born in Cumbria, England, and lives in Fremantle, Western Australia. She is currently working toward her PhD at Edith Cowan University. Her journal and anthology publications include Westerly, Plumwood Mountain, the Australian Poetry Journal, and the Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry. Jackson has published two books, a chapbook, seven zines and a CD. She won the 2014 Ethel Webb Bundell Poetry Prize. Jackson's many guest appearances include the Queensland and Tasmanian Poetry Festivals. She is the founding editor of online poetry journal Uneven Floor, The National Library of Australia archives her collected works.

You can read some of Jackson’s works on her website



A large gathering of OOTA writers and friends squeezed into the Pavlich Room at the Fremantle Arts Centre on Saturday 21st October to attend the group’s Annual General Meeting and 20th Anniversary celebrations.

With the formal part of the agenda completed by noon, members and guests enjoyed an informal lunch before Simone McGurk MLA opened the anniversary celebrations. Simone paid tribute to the custodians of the land past and present, and to the creativity and energy of local groups of writers, poets and artists, challenging us to use our writings to speak for those who, for whatever reason, find it hard to make their own voices heard.

Simone was followed by the 11 shantymen of The Lost Quays, who entertained us with a selection of traditional shanties, including the beautiful and haunting “Shallow Brown”, which tells of a slave, jumping ship to escape being sold, lamenting his lost love Julianna.

After the music, OOTA Secretary Liz Hearnden awarded Honorary Life Memberships to Mary Jarzabkowski and Helen Hagemann. At 91, Mary is our oldest member but she is an active and dedicated writer who has self-published her autobiography and regularly entrains us with her short stories, most of which are drawn from her own varied and extensive experience. Helen is a former committee member and President, and is our prose tutor, conducting fortnightly workshops and critiquing classes, which, over the past ten years, have helped dozens of our members hone their prose writing skills.

Following the awards we were treated to readings of prose and poetry by Mary Jarzabkowski, Carolyn Abbs, Helen Hagemann, Shane McCauley (who recently celebrated his 300th poetry class for OOTA) and Julie Watts, who read the beautiful and moving “The story of Julian who will never knew we loved him”, the winner of this year’s Blake Poetry Prize.

The afternoon was completed by three readings by OOTA mentees Kate Bennett, Jayden O’Neil and Shamina Rozario. The readings, including both prose and poetry, were insightful, thought-provoking and humorous, and affirmed the young writers as being an integral part of a writing community prepared to share their passion, skills and knowledge. You can read some of Shamina's work here. OOTA mentee Maddie Godfrey was unable to join us but you can read her poem "Three Winters" here. "Three Winters"was highly commended in the 2017 Queensland Poetry Festival's PHILIP BACON EKPHRASIS AWARD. You can read  more of Maddie's work here at and on her website Maddie's first poetry collection, “How To Be Held" will be published by Burning Eye Books in May 2018.

OOTA expresses its thanks to Simone McGurk, “The Lost Quays” and the Fremantle Arts Centre, and to all the readers and participants who helped ensure the success of our anniversary celebrations.



The Hon. Simone McGurk MLA BA is the WA State Member for Fremantle and Minister for Child Protection; Women's Interests; Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence; Community Services.

“The Lost Quays” is a Fremantle based 11-voice male choir dedicated to singing shanties and other songs of the sea. A sea shanty (or “chantey”) was traditionally sung by sailors while labouring together aboard sailing ships. These songs are rhythmic and energetic, but are simple and easy to learn, making them ideal for audience participation. They can reveal interesting insights into seafaring history.

While many of their songs are traditional, they also embrace more contemporary folk songs where appropriate. They mostly perform a cappella (unaccompanied), but do sometimes include instruments such as guitar, mandolin and accordion. Their repertoire is presented with gusto, good humour, and occasional mischief!

Photography courtesy of Renee Pettitt-Schipp



West Australian writer, and Out Of The Asylum (OOTA) President, Julie Watts is the 2017 winner of the prestigious Blake Poetry Prize with her poem entitled 'The Story of Julian who will never know we loved him'.

Announced on 29 September 2017 at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, the $5,000 Blake Poetry Prize is awarded biannually by Liverpool City Library in partnership with Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre.

Taking its name from William Blake, a mystical and artistic Romantic era poet, the Blake Poetry Prize challenges modern poets to examine spirituality, humanity and social justice in works of 100 lines or less.

The award was judged by three high-profile writers, including award-winning author Maxine Beneba Clarke; Ali Cobby Eckermann, winner of the prestigious 2017 Windham-Campbell Prize, and Mark Tredinnick, winner of the inaugural Blake Poetry Prize. Of Julie’s winning entry they said “In The Story of Julian who will never know we loved him, the hierarchy of society is untangled in a moment allowing a glimpse into compassion and thought; a sliver of the everyday dialogue, rewritten as a reminder to us all.”

Announcing the award, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre Director Craig Donarski said “Julie Watts’ poem is nothing short of brilliant. The religious and spiritual integrity that shines through her writing is exemplary of what the Blake Poetry Prize is all about, and we couldn’t be more excited to co-present this incredible achievement. Bravo!”

Apart from being our President, Julie Watts has been published in various journals and anthologies including Westerly, Australian Poetry Anthology and Australian Love Poems 2013. Her first collection of poetry, Honey & Hemlock, was published by Sunline Press in 2013.

Congratulations and well done Julie, from all your friends and colleagues at OOTA.

The winning entry, the highly commended entry, and all of the shortlisted poems, together with all of the judges' commentary can be read here http

.Photograph by Andrew Burns



A number of OOTA poets and writers have recently been recognised in local poetry and prose writing competitions. The successful writers are:



Highly Commended: Jackson, "Dadda"

                                  Jan Napier, “Silkie”

Commended: Rita Tognini, “Louch Sonnett”


First Prize: Jan Napier

Poems and Haiku can be read at


Winner: Julie Watts, “Earthquake”

Commended:    Renee Pettitt-Schipp, “After Your Mother’s Fall”

                          Rose van Son, “At Ellensbrook

Poems can be read at



Second Place: Richard Regan, “Café Canvas

Third Place: Aileen Hawkes, “Out of the Window

Commendation: Leanne Searle, “Lunch at the Arts Centre Café”

Congratulations to all of the winners. A complete list of the winners of all categories and the judge's report can be found here.