1 October 2021

The 2021 Hachette Australia Prize for Young Writers Poetry Winner – Jihad Yassine

Jihad Yassine’s poem Box has been awarded The 2021 Hachette Australia Prize for Young Writers in the category of poetry. Yassine was presented with the award online at the National Young Writers Festival at a special event, and won a $500 cash prize, an exclusive book pack from Hachette Australia and acknowledgement of their winning entry in Express Media’s flagship publication Voiceworks.

Read Yassine’s winning piece below.


The clamouring of voices clashing and combining in this one small room we call home 

The context, long forgotten 

with the flow of emotion that is so twisted and contorted 

That the origin of its birth was tomorrow and its creation yesterday like a tree seed, a shell till its planted to life 

These emotions 

The whirlwind of identities and ideas 

Were born long before a reason for them was made 

A barrel of thoughts irrational and irrelevant to the world around Seeking a target for release of desire 

“You’re not my son you’re not my son” 

My father is dead and my mother is gone 

“It’s your fault we live this way, it’s your fault we live this way” The words of my mother will persist and persist 

Even till her skin has turned grey 

“You’re a waste of air and it should be taken from you” 

You may be right but the truth is far from the words you speak “You avoid us because you’re filled with hate” 

No i avoid you because i do not feel safe 

Like a snake eating its tail, there’s no end to the repetition of poisonous traps Hissing in a pattern sending a blade down my spine 

This may be my home but i will never call this family mine 

Like a lone ‘pagan’ against the oncoming crusaders

Clutching my belief close to my ear 

Hearing it repeat its message 

Defying the onslaught of control 

Of control 

Of control 

What replaces an arrow that is fired from a bow 

A word shot from a mouth 

The words shot at me laced with poison 

Wearing down my self-esteem and what was described 

as ‘endless patience’ 

Creating a beehive of my sanity and stability 

“Harder, faster, smarter, quieter, louder, gentler, tougher, more, less” 

Running as fast I can from the fear of being caught by the weight of always being just shy of enough. 

This past 

This battle 

Of pagan against crusader 

Of being just too shy of reaching the cookie jar 

Is long gone 

Now my eyes are shining with the depth of a grave 

The cookie jar once just too far for me to reach 

Is now a centimeters away from being a light year too close 

The only difference is 

The only crusader is my fear of being enough 

The only pagan is my fear of not being enough 

Now there is no one left to keep me in check 

Except for the man on the moon

A clump of Rock called beautiful 

with craters of protective abuse 

It reminds me that 

If we are not feed love and acceptance from a silver spoon We learn to lick it off a cold rusted knife


Listen to Yassine read an excerpt of his piece and all of the other poetry shortlistees here.