Bronwyn has a passion for linguistics and storytelling, and has loved writing since she was a little girl. She studied cinema and creative writing at the University of Sydney as well as the University of Melbourne, where she was the recipient of the H.B. Higgins Scholarship for Advanced Studies in Poetry and the Hannah Barry Memorial Award for Performing Arts. She is currently a PhD candidate at Flinders University in Adelaide, where she is researching depictions of women in space (as in stars) in real life and science fiction.
Her controversial essay “Science Fiction’s Women Problem”, published by the Conversation and ABC News Online, gained international attention and was a finalist for the 2017 CHASS Australia Prize for a Student in Humanities and Social Sciences.
Her poetry has been published in numerous publications, including Best Australian Poems, Australian Poetry Journal, Award Winning Australian Writing, Antipodes, Meanjin, Cordite Poetry Review, Verity La, Rabbit, Australian Love Poems, The Global Poetry Anthology, Strange Horizons and The Rhysling Anthology.
Bronwyn has won the Val Vallis Award (2017) and the Adrien Abbott Poetry Prize (2013), and been shortlisted for the Fair Australia Prize (2018; 2017), the Judith Wright Poetry Prize (2017), the Newcastle Poetry Prize (2013), the Bridport Prize (2013) and the Montreal International Poetry Prize (2011).
She was a judge for the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize, a speaker at the Australian Youth Humanities Forum and has read at the Melbourne Writers Festival, the Bendigo Writers Festival, the Williamstown Literary Festival, La Mama Poetica and on ABC Radio National.
Bronwyn’s love of words has taken her to opposite ends of the country and the globe: from writing and editing children’s books in the UK, to living in remote communities in Cape York as a remedial literacy instructor for Aboriginal children, and interning at Poets House in New York City. She is now working on her first full-length publication — a feminist science fiction verse novel set in space.
2018 & 2016 Science Fiction Poetry Association: Rhysling Award Candidate
2018 Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith Fund scholarship: Winner
2017 Judith Wright Poetry Prize: Shortlisted
2017 Arts Queensland Val Vallis Award: Winner
2017 Fair Australia Prize: Shortlisted
2017 Australian Space Research Conference Best Student Oral Presentation: Runner-up
2017 CHASS Australia Prize for a Student in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences: Finalist
2016 Ian Potter Cultural Trust: Individual Artists Grant
2016 Arts SA: Independent Makers and Presenters Development Grant
2016 Eleanor Dark Foundation: Tyrone Guthrie Writing Exchange
2015 Varuna Writers House: Residential Fellowship
2015 Australian Postgraduate Award
2014 Arts Victoria: VicArts Grant
2014 Australian Poetry: Online writer-in-residence for June
2014 Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre: Emerging writer-in-residence
2013 Melbourne Poets Union International Poetry Prize: Highly Commended
2013 Glen Phillips Poetry Prize: Commended
2013 Adrien Abbott Poetry Prize: Winner
2013 Bridport Poetry Prize: Shortlisted
2013 Newcastle Poetry Prize: Shortlisted
2013 Flinders Island Mountain Seas Arts Program: Artist-in-residence
2013 Cancer Council Victoria Arts Awards: Shortlisted
2013 Bendigo Writers Festival Poetry Slam: Third prize
2013 Fish International Poetry Contest: Longlisted
2013 Varuna Publisher Fellowship: Shortlisted
2013 & 2012 Doire Press International Poetry Contest: Shortlisted
2012 Australia Council for the Arts: ArtStart Literature Grant
2012 Bendigo Writers Festival Poetry Slam: Silver Medal
2012 Eyre Writers Awards Free Verse Poetry Section: Commended
2012 Brunswick Poets & Writers Workshop 38th Annual Literary Competition: Shortlisted
2011 Poetica Christi Press Annual Poetry Competition: Second prize
2011 ZineWest Competition: Commended
2011 Montreal International Poetry Prize: Shortlisted
2011 Rossgill Media Travel Writing Contest: Shortlisted
2011 Bard of the Stables Poetry Competition: Commended
2011 Hannah Barry Memorial Award for Performing Arts: Winner
2011 H.B. Higgins Scholarship for Advanced Studies in Poetry: Winner
2011 University of Melbourne Above Water Creative Writing Competition: Shortlisted
2011 Sydney Road Writers Competition Short Piece Written Section: Winner
2011 South Eastern Centre for Sustainability Environmental Poetry Competition Open Written Section: Winner
2011 & 2010 Melbourne Writers Festival Poetry Idol: Finalist
2010 Doris Leadbetter Poetry Cup: Encouragement Award
This poem appeals because it best demonstrates the importance—to both writing good poetry and to leading a more contented life perhaps—of paying close attention; of seeing as opposed to looking; of really listening as opposed to having perfect hearing; of actively joining the dots as opposed to waiting for life to get up and hit you over the head.
~ Judge’s comments on my Commended poem in the 2012 Eyre Writers Annual Literary Awards
This is a whimsical and… delightful celebration of the self—of the sheer joy (at least sometimes!) of being alone, free from duties and social obligations.
~ Judge Shane McCauley’s comments on my Commended poem in the 2013 Glen Phillips Poetry Prize
Doppler Shift by Bronwyn Lovell has the authority of considered experience, and commands attention.
~ Judge Jennifer Compton’s comments on my Highly Commended poem in the 2013 MPU International Poetry Prize
Highly skilful verse novel. Not a word out of place. Narrative seamless, intriguing and beautifully rendered.
~ Varuna the National Writers’ House 2014 peer assessors’ comments about my science fiction poetry manuscript
In ‘Quietly, on the way to Mars’, Bronwyn Lovell opens a space for the discussion of human evolution and the unknown. This dazzling lyric and narrative poem courses a similar trajectory to such other transformative feminist poems as Adrienne Rich’s ‘Diving into the Wreck’. Lovell’s poem houses shadows, a sense of the past and a curiosity concerning them; it sustains a speculative quality and maintains a fascination with the psychology of law and relationships; it is compelling for its wit, its command of striking language, its sense of quiet achievement.
~ Judges Stuart Barnes and Michelle Cahill’s comments on my winning poem in the 2017 Val Vallis Award
The moon-shaped music of Bronwyn Lovell’s ‘Moon’ would eventually not let itself be forgotten.
~ Judges Ali Cobby Eckermann and Toby Fitch’s comments on my shortlisted poem in the 2017 Judith Wright Poetry Prize
I write because I love to read books and watch films and listen to lyrics, and because when I read or watch or hear something beautiful and profound, it touches me in such a way that it changes my life.
Often, when I read a paragraph or watch a scene or hear the lyrics to a song, I relate to the thoughts and feelings expressed and I feel a sense of kinship; I am reminded that the human experience is a universal one, and that not one of us is alone. I want to share that feeling with others; that is why I am working so hard to make writing my life.
For me, the desire to write comes as much from a sense of loneliness as a sense of belonging. A wish to converse with the world—to say, “Look, I am you and you are me!” A need to remind myself and readers that this is precious, and yet nothing at all. A chance to find consolation in our common understanding and misunderstanding.
I love to feel moved and inspired by the art of others, and I am always deeply honoured when people approach me after a performance to say that my words touched them or comforted them in some way. Writing reconnects me with humanity.
I like to write about day-to-day life, love, death, sadness, joy, wonder, grace, and hope. I believe that all art should act as a mirror, to reflect life back to us so that we can see the ordinary wonders to which we too often fail to see.
I feel that a poem has turned out well if it reveals something about nature or the human condition, and is expressed in a unique, enlightening way. I aspire for my work to be perceptive, respectful, sensitive, honest and heartfelt.
When people read one of my poems, I’d like them to receive it as a gift. Wherever possible, I hope to use my words to somehow better the world, because I believe that is how I can best contribute to it.
A poet is a voice outside the hysteria of the media; one who is sensitive to and concerned with universal truths and connections.
The voices of those who write authentically, not because they are paid to do it, not because they are trying to sell something, but voices who are writing because they want to share what they know about what it is to be human—those are the voices that need to be heard.
Many of my poems have been influenced by my ongoing fascination with outer space:
Thanks to a Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith Fund scholarship, in 2019 I attended the Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program— run jointly by the University of South Australia and the International Space University — to learn more about the international space sector and its activities.
My science fiction verse novel is a story about a one-way trip to Mars to establish a human colony, inspired by the real-life plans of Mars One, SpaceX and NASA. Despite being a work of fiction, the story is grounded in real-life science and current plans to colonise Mars in coming decades.
I began writing the novel during time spent as the emerging writer-in-residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre (KSP) in Western Australia. Since then, I have performed poems from the manuscript at La Mama Poetica in Victoria, Voicebox in Western Australia and SpaceUp Australia in Adelaide and SpaceUp UK in London. In 2014 I was awarded a VicArts Grant and a Varuna residential fellowship to further develop the manuscript. Here’s a sneak peek as featured by the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing & Ideas.
The figure of the astronaut mother in science fiction represents a site of confluence between the seemingly incompatible cultural ideals and archetypes of the astronaut and the mother. Contemporary science fiction stories struggle to merge these identities without breaking the mother in the process of making her an astronaut. Read more.
If women aren’t encouraged to pursue careers in scientific fields, it’s unlikely they’re going to have the confidence to write in a genre that uses science as a launch pad for fiction. Read more.
One feels that Letters to Tiptree is an extremely important book, but one also fears that, similar to the extraordinary woman who is its subject, it may disappear into obscurity all too soon, without receiving the wider attention and celebration it absolutely deserves. Read more.
The colonists will likely never again feel the sensation of sun or wind against their bare skin. The concept I really wish to explore through my writing is: if we leave Earth behind, how might that affect our humanity? Read more.
An association between mental illness and creativity in general—and poetry in particular—has been proposed plenty of times, although it has never been properly proven or understood. Read more.
A writing teacher once said to me, “you must write what you dare not”, and this is what I strive to do through my poetry. Often I write what I would never be brave enough to bring up in normal conversation. Read more.
I have only ever been sent to the principal’s office on two occasions. Both times were at primary school—once for swinging off the top of the jungle gym like Tarzan from a vine hanging from a nearby tree (and then, perhaps most damningly, coordinating the queue of children who lined up for turns after me); and again for a poem I wrote. Read more.
Perth Culture interview
Poetry for the Head from the Heart: Contemporary poetry is relevant because it addresses situations that are familiar to us. Older poetry is a little more foreign in its context, style and traditions, but at its core are the same human emotions and desires that will remain relevant as long as we are human. Read more.
Crux #9 interview
Interview with Lorne Johnson: I had that fear of poetry that is very common; I was afraid I didn’t understand it. Terrified in fact. I was sure I would be discovered as a complete fraud and kicked out of the class. Read more.
Feminist of the week: Sexism is not an old-school attitude displayed by a minority of men – our brothers, fathers and sons are sexist. Most mothers and daughters are inadvertently sexist too. We live in a patriarchal society and, as such, we are inherently influenced by its traditional rules and value system. Read more.
Good Reading magazine
Performance Poetry: It’s not that small collection of lonely and neglected books that most readers walk past at the back of your local bookstore. It’s not the baffling lines your teacher made you memorise to pass your high school English exams. And it’s not old-fashioned or difficult to understand. So what is performance poetry? Read more.
The Victorian Writer magazine
Why the Jester is no Fool: Jesters were able to get away with saying things no one else could. They existed outside the otherwise stifling restraints of manners and class. They may have been the lowliest member of the court but they enjoyed a lot of freedom and had plenty of influence. So, too, do many modern-day comedians. Read more.
Behind the Curtain: Ryan Van Winkle at the Melbourne Fringe Festival: Everyone is always insatiably curious about the other envelopes, he says. He doesn’t know why—there’s nothing to see in them, he says, just other poems. (As if poems weren’t exciting. As if, given the chance, one wouldn’t peruse the poem not taken.) Read more.
Writers Victoria website
Transitioning: My Journey from Stage to Page and Back Again:
I had never thought about self-care in terms of artistic practice before. I hadn’t been looking after myself, or my art. Read more.
Dear Future Me: I’m constantly thinking of ways to make life better for you, to make you “successful”, whatever that entails. When I’m having a bad day, a bad week, even a bad year, just believing that my actions today might make you happy somewhere, sometime, is what gets me up in the morning. The past is set but the future is free, and you live in that undiscovered country. Read more.
Lip magazine poetry reviews
Lupa and Lamb by Susan Hawthorne:
‘Lupa’ means wolf, so Lupa and Lamb is the hunter and the hunted, the dichotomy of woman as dangerous seductress she-devil, and innocent bleating victim. These tired archetypes cross cultures and centuries…. In many ways Lupa and Lamb is like a historical fiction, travelling back through the ages to tell the stories of women who were silenced. Read more.
Gap by Rebecca Jessen:
This verse novel makes a strong political statement. It shows how a murderer might actually be a victim, and how the inequality of society fails people—how young people can so easily fall through the gaps and might never find their way back. Read more.
Heartbeats by Candy Royalle:
One wholly new aspect of Royalle’s work that reveals itself on the page is her creative and innovative use of punctuation. She is not afraid of running words together or turning familiar symbols inside-out.
Award Winning Australian Writing 2013:
These stories and poems all won competitions between July 2012 and June 2013, while the country was consumed by a political witch-hunt that ultimately saw our first female prime minister burnt at the stake. The contributions to this anthology witness wrongness against women and expose the sickness of a society that, for all our progress, remains sexist at its core. Read more.
Australian Love Poems 2013 (ed. Mark Tredinnick):
The fact that one poem touches you deeply, while another leaves you cold, has more to do with chemistry than literary techniques. Sometimes you can’t say why a certain poem delights you; it just does. Different things turn us on—in poetry and in love. Read more.
the Book of Ethel by Jordie Albiston:
Through chronicling one woman’s life, the Book of Ethel voices the experiences of a whole generation of women. And, in so doing, it tells a story that is foreign yet familiar, romantic yet realistic, banal at times but ultimately brave and beautiful. Read more.
Magic Logic by David Mortimer:
When reading a poetry collection, if I’m lucky, there might be one or two moments that catch my breath—when a poet’s particular insight or phrasing is so profound that it invokes a special kind of magic—delivering a rush of emotion that makes me gasp. I might describe this sensation as a literary orgasm. Read more.
Too Afraid to Cry by Ali Cobby Eckermann:
Her story not only exposes Australia’s shocking history of cruelty and neglect towards its Indigenous people, but also depicts a patriarchal society that too often shames women and fails to support or protect them when they are most vulnerable. Read more.
Heaven on Earth: 101 Happy Poems (ed. Wendy Cope):
The editor of this anthology says that she compiled this anthology as an argument of sorts against widely held ideas that joy ‘won’t be put down on paper’ and that ‘Happiness is the one emotion a poem can’t capture’. Read more.
Mappings of the Plane: New Selected Poems by Gwen Harwood:
Harwood’s poetry criticized idealised concepts of motherhood and exposed the frustration and isolation faced by women, especially young women with children. Read more.
Chemistry by Jamie King-Holden:
These poems are brave and honest; they acknowledge the despair of everyday life and challenge the reader to consider the cruelty and eccentricity of society—to discern its contradictions and common horrors. Read more.
The Argument by Tracy Ryan:
More than anything, it’s the domesticity that appeals to me about this book. The poems often point to ordinary details that wouldn’t normally be considered poetic—from mouldy fruit to falling over in the car park. Read more.
Award Winning Australian Writing (ed. Adolfo Aranjuez):
It was wonderful to read works that were surprising and imaginative, and written in genres that I wouldn’t normally pick off the shelf. Read more.
Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith:
Smith uses space as a metaphor to raise serious questions about human nature and our transient presence here on Earth. This book reminds us that we are part of something much larger than ourselves, and with that realization, comes responsibility. Read more.
Best Australian Poems 2012 (ed. John Tranter):
How disappointing, that in a decade of publication, there has only been one female editor, and for nine out of ten years, the person deciding the “best” poems written in this country has been male. Read more.
Don’t Start Me Talkin’ by Paul Kelly:
The way the lyrics appear on the page gives them the look of poetry, yes. And some of the expression and use of figurative language certainly reads like poetry. I can understand the comparison, and it’s undoubtedly worthy of it. However, is it poetry? Read more.
The Sunlit Zone by Lisa Jacobson:
This verse novel is aptly named. It is lilting and tidal. Its lyric language is lively, playful, and yet dares to dip into the darkness that dwells under the surface of ordinary lives.
Titles I’ve written for The Book Studio, UK:
Chrysalis is a journey through poetry and music, weaving the complexity of the relatively short life cycle of the butterfly with larger ideas about what it is to be human. The poems have been researched to be scientifically correct explorations of insect development, while also navigating wider themes of transience and transformation, vulnerability and resilience. Bronwyn’s poetry is accompanied by the sublime sounds of harpist Michael Johnson, the musician-in-residence from Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens. The words and music intertwine to create a fascinating performance.
Chrysalis was first performed at the University of Melbourne in 2012 with support from the Hannah Barry Memorial Award for Performing Arts.
Bronwyn’s manuscript of butterfly poetry was subsequently shortlisted for a 2013 Varuna Publisher Fellowship with Picaro Press, as well as the 2013 Doire Press International Poetry Chapbook Competition. Her butterfly poetry suite Life Lepidopteran was shortlisted for the 2013 Newcastle Poetry Prize.
For booking information for Chrysalis, or to order a handmade chapbook of Bronwyn’s suite of butterfly poems, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your beautiful book arrived on Friday and I have spent the weekend reading it. I have never seen such a handcrafted piece of magic – thank you so much. Your poems are too lovely; such a wonderful celebration of the natural world.
~ Phillip Hall, 2015
I met you at the Phillip Island WWAM event. I enjoyed your poetry so much I purchased a copy of ‘Chrysalis’ for my daughter. I am writing to say how much I appreciated your work and honesty. Keep up the wonderful writing.
~ Lorrie Read, 2014
Bronwyn is magnificent—the beating heart of Melbourne poetry!
~ Kirsti Whalen, 2014
The poems fluttered into the air on Bronwyn’s gentle tones. From the very beginning we sat mesmerised as we were softly lifted to another world—a world of beauty and wonder, where the unfolding of a butterfly became a metaphor for the human experience. At the conclusion we sat in quiet contemplation until someone realised we had come to the end of our journey and began the sincere applause.
~ Tamara Lampard, 2014
Your poems and delivery were both amazing. Some poems even brought my friends and I to tears from being so overwhelmed by your words.
~ Amy Ruth Gibbs, 2014
Bronwyn Lovell is a rising star in Australian poetry, shortlisted for the Newcastle Poetry Prize in 2013 and a standout at the Bendigo Writers’ Festival last year—a fine poet and great performer.
~ Ross Donlon, 2014
I heard you speak at the Australian Youth Humanities Forum and Wow!!! Your whole speech was so beautifully written and presented and I fell in love with your words within the first few sentences. In fact would have listened to you speak forever. Thank you sincerely for coming and sharing your story with us. You completely inspired me to pursue my love of words and made me realise that even for a minority style of writing like poetry, there is a future!
~ Matilda Bell-Wilcock, 2014
Charming poet Bronwyn Lovell spoke of losing her soul on Swanston Street and used what one audience member called ‘painstaking honesty’. What do we love about Lovell? We love the subtle urgency that flutters off her tongue and the way she stands up there and bares her soul.
~ Mia Wotherspoon, 2013
It felt as if we were sitting in her kitchen and having a cuppa while she retraced her memories and personal experiences and retold them to us in a gorgeous storybook-like style.
~ Christa Jonathan, 2011
She dazzled the crowd, starting with a poem about her gift to the audience through words and emotions, and her gift was well received, with all eyes focused and breaths held.
~ Flo Devereux, 2011
Her imagery is rich and her language delightful. Bronwyn, in her performance, strikes all the right notes between pathos and irony—able to laugh at her impulsive loves, and in the next line evoke the grief of losing a relative.
~ James, Mudfest reviewer, 2011
Especially lovely was the reaction of the public to this piece—one lady shushed her friends and didn’t get off the tram because she wanted to hear the poetry. So that says it all really, this performance captured the tram itself and all of the characters real and imagined that were aboard. A captivating joy.
~ Tilly Lunken, 2011
I wanted to thank you for your words, and the heart behind them…. Your poetry has inspired me to stay passionate and to not grow complacent. Thank you for the inspiration, it was truly moving.
~ Tekitah Falkenberg, 2010
Bronwyn is one of the brightest young things in the poetry scene.
~ Steve Smart, 2010