30 November 2022

The 2022 Hachette Australia Prize for Young Writers Poetry Winner – Sammi Wu

Sammi Wu’s poem Art Class has been awarded The 2022 Hachette Australia Prize for Young Writers in the category of poetry. Wu 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 Wu’s winning piece below.

Art Class

My visual arts teacher says I should stop oversharing. Actually, 

He says her ability to develop complex and engaging 

Artistic directions and to make those personal is a blessing 

And curse that needs to be managed…  

Which is probably worse. 

I would paint more if I could. I would carve you 

Clementine hearts and drink medium like wine. But 

Every time we brave the canvas I can only see 

The recurring image of myself, overlapping like stained glass. 

Frustration with making these concepts visible, he’d continued, 

Can lead to procrastination. Sir, how do you wrestle affection, 

When all we know is a love greater than our hands?  


I can’t do it the way you do. 

See, you paint people how you want them to be. 

A caricature of your desires to the point of destruction. 

It’s obvious that you are in love. 

I only have $70 and a whole lot of pride 

And I couldn’t get the softness 

of your hands, the kindness of your eyes. 


In absence of fear you saw me and smiled. He was watching 

like he’d lived it all before. Lovers,   

In the chapel and in the markets, on the Lilydale line. 

The student teacher said he’d marry again in September. 

In my head I can see it— two artists, intertwined. 


I worry. I think you’re lovely. 

I  want to tell you your smile transcends vermillion. I want to make a fist 

of my heart but it’s humiliating, this booming, 

blooming reminder of you. 

I was sluggish and sleepy when you tapped your brush to my cheek. Two times, 

Fast, like the stutter of my chest. 

I blinked open my eyes to nothing 


but red. Crimson swallowed my voice in hopeless marmalade. 

Everything about you— I saw it at once. 

I felt silly and so in love. You’d painted the sky. 

Juane Brilliant across the canvas with a palette knife. I remember 

Light was pooling on the table in spoons of honey. Sweetheart, I started, but you 

Cut me off. The colours,  

You said, remind me of you.