University of Wollongong student Joel Ephraims has been named winner of Overland Magazine’s 2011 Judith Wright Poetry Prize for New and Emerging Writers and $6000.

The poem, Rock Candy, was inspired by Ephraims’ hectic and contrasted life.

Rock Candy is a product of reading a lot of poetry at the same time as writing a lot of poetry, at the same time breaking up with my girlfriend, at the same time hearing stories about mental illness, at the same time as listening to the news,” Ephraim said.

The Creative Arts and English Literature student says his approach to his work had been ‘all over the place’ but has resulted in critical success.

“I write down lines in pencil on books, or on whatever other innocent pieces of paper are around,” Ephraims said.

“I’m becoming more organised in my approach but I think a degree of messiness is a part of creative process.”

Overland Magazine poetry editor and judge Peter Minter highly praised the award-winning piece.

“[The poem] is propelled by a cinematographic kaleidoscope of desire, narrative, observation and event,” Mr Minter said.

Ephraims has been writing poetry for two years, having been previously published in Voiceworks.

“Poetry appeals to me more because of its transparency and tangibility as compared to the slower building and slower forming medium of the novel or short story,” Ephraims said.

He also includes the use of ‘gaming language’ in his body of work, considering where poetry will go in the digital future.

“It’s about how a computer operates, so on a basic level digital poetry is always going to be centred around computers and the relationship between people or society and computers,” he said.

Ephraims hopes to captivate his readers with his enthusiasm for poetry, reflect upon things, and develop an overall understanding.

Watch Joel Ephraims read the acclaimed ‘Rock Candy’ on YouTube.

Words: Corey Tasker

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