Sterlin makes a splash to snare poetry prize

Poet Svetlana Sterlin. | Newsreel
Award winning Brisbane poet Svetlana Sterlin. | Supplied

Brisbane poet Svetlana Sterlin has won Australia’s richest poetry prize.

The former QUT Creative Writing student won the $40,000 Helen Anne Bell Poetry Bequest Award for her book-length manuscript  If Movement were a Language.

The prize includes publication of her manuscript by Vagabond Press.

Ms Sterlin, who lives in Daisy Hill and also works as a swimming coach, said while her early writing was based in the world of fantasy, her recent work was based on her lived experience – much of it around swimming, her other big passion.

She said swimming was one of the only constants in her life as she grew up in a family which moved often.

Her father is also a successful swim coach and many of her stories take place poolside, including her winning entry in this prize.

“This is an incredible honour. To be among such esteemed company and to have even made the shortlist is such a proud achievement,” Ms Sterlin said.

“Now, the opportunity for my debut collection to be published with Vagabond is a dream come true. I cannot wait for the ripples of my poems to reach the shores I’ve been swimming towards for so long.”

Ms Sterlin’s writing has recently been recognised in the 2023 Richell Prize and the State Library of Queensland Young Writers Award.

She has poetry and short fiction published in Island, Westerly, takah?, Meanjin, Cordite, and elsewhere.

Ms Sterlin also edits with Voiceworks and is the founding editor of swim meet lit mag.

As an emerging screenwriter, Ms Sterlin has participated in various programs and initiatives run by Screen Queensland and Queensland Writers Centre.