CJ Dennis Poetry Competition

The Toolangi C.J. Dennis Poetry Festival

& Poetry Competition 2021


Hosted by The Singing Gardens in conjunction with

the C.J. Dennis Society

The Singing Gardens in conjunction with the C.J. Dennis Society is proud to announce the 2021 Toolangi C.J. Dennis Poetry Festival is scheduled for Sunday 21st November 2021.

We would also like to acknowledge this years Competition was supported by a grant from The English-Speaking Union (Victoria Branch) (ESUV). The ESUV promotes friendship and closer ties between the peoples of English-speaking democracies through out common heritage and language. We work principally with young people, providing opportunities to build skills and gain experiences to help our beneficiaries realise their full potential. The ESUV supports people-to-people learning, exchanges, conferences, awards and work experience programs. We offer a rang of competitive funded opportunities including bursaries, grants and scholarships.

Because of the uncertainty surrounding Covid, it was decided to hold the CJ Dennis Festival activities online. This meant that there was a loss of the usual revenue from people attending at The Singing Gardens in Toolangi. We are so grateful to the ESUV for its grant of $3000; it has allowed us to still print our competition anthology and increase some of the prizes. If you would like to know more or support ESUV via a social membership please use this link http://esu.vic.gov.au

Thank you for your generous support.


As per previous years there will be prizes awarded for first, second and third in each of the categories as well as the prestigious Marian Mayne Prize, for the winner of the Adult Open section.  The categories for student entries have been reconfigured to make each group peer competitive. As a result what was previously categorised as primary and secondary school student categories are now: School Students: Preps up to and including Grade 4; School Students: Grade 5 up to and including Year 8; and School Students: Year 9 up to and including Year 12. Prize money has also been increased slightly for each of these categories.

It is fitting, as this year our theme was ‘A Book for Kids’ which celebrates its centenary since publication, to acknowledge here the generous donation from Bolinda Publishing of 12 audio CDs of ‘A Book for Kids’.

Bolinda is an Australian entrepreneurial media company dedicated to audiobook publishing and the library market. In the last 30 years, the company has revolutionised the audiobook category. Bolinda’s audiobooks are of unparalleled quality, and their award-winning solution, BorrowBox, offers libraries the world’s best eBooks and eAudiobooks in one innovative app. Bolinda is committed to supporting libraries, engaging communities and, ultimately, inspiring people to live their best lives through the power of storytelling. Anywhere, everywhere.

Thank you for your generous donation.


The Marian Mayne Prize is a gorgeous perpetual trophy which will remain at The Singing Gardens not only continuing to promote the competition but also the memory of Marian Mayne herself, whose generous bequest provided the trophy itself as well as ongoing prize money.

The instructions and agenda are below and everyone is welcome to participate.

Dear Poetry Competition Entrants & Supporters,

I know you have all been anxiously waiting to hear the results of this year’s C. J. Dennis Poetry Competition and we are almost there. Winners have been notified by phone that they have won ‘something’ but we are keeping the specifics until we all catch up on:SUNDAY 21ST NOVEMBER 2021 via ZOOM.

Login details for Zoom are below.

Date: Sunday, 21 November, 2021

Time: 11:00 am Melbourne daylight saving time please check your local time equivalent (e.g. Qld, SA, NT, WA, NZ)

To join Zoom Meeting, use the link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83730527100?pwd=UkpFZFhWbWNjZ2hmR2M0Q2FpY2ZNQT09

Meeting ID: 837 3052 7100

Passcode: 093981

If you have difficulties logging in, please phone Daan on +61 (0)409 952 403.

If you need to log in with your phone instead of a computer, instructions are at: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kczeSg6n4p

When you join the Zoom event, please check that your video and audio are working. Those who won a prize or honourable mention are invited to read their work on the day. To allow us to have the day run smoothly, we need to allot a time for each person. Please email us to nominate one of the slots: 11:30am, 1:05pm or 2:05pm.


11am – Welcome from our President and Competition Coordinator

11.15am – Message from our Patron Ted Egan AO (may be prerecorded)

11.20am – Prize winners and Honourable Mentions announced

11.30am – Presentation of poems/short stories by the author (bookings will need to be made). We will start with the prize winners and progress to honourable mentions. Then others who would like to participate (Please book a time slot for this hour or later in the day.)

12.30am – 1.00pm – Lunch break with Audio CD of CJ Dennis’ A Book for Kids playing

1pm – Judge insight (hear comments and advice from a competition judge)

1.05pm – More Poems/short stories from winners and others

2.00pm – Judge insight

2.05pm – More Poems/short stories from winners and others

3.00pm – Judge insight

3.05pm – David Campbell, Shelly Hansen reciting a poem they have won an award for plus time for other readings

4pm – Closing remarks from the President and Jim Brown performing ‘Dusk’ via prerecording.

We will try our best to follow the agenda timeline however, with so many people involved we may get off course occasionally.