Greek Australian poet Antigone Kefala wins prestigious Patrick White Literary Award


Greek Australian poet and author Antigone Kefala has won this year's prestigious Patrick White Literary Award; a fitting recognition of her achievements as a poet, and a writer of fiction and nonfiction.

Kefala is the author of memoir collections Sydney Journals and Late Journals (both Giramondo), as well as several works of fiction and poetry, including Fragments (Giramondo), which won the 2017 Judith Wright Calanthe Award and was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Award for Poetry.

Patrick White Award recipient Antigone Kefala and her publisher Ivor Indyk. Giramondo Publishing

Kefala’s work is the focus of two anthologies: Antigone Kefala: A writer’s journey (ed by Vrasidas Karalis & Helen Nickas, Owl Publishing, 2009), which collects reviews, essays and analytical writing, and the 2021 publication Antigone Kefala: New Australian modernities (ed by Elizabeth McMahon & Brigitta Olubas, UWAP).

On winning the award, Kefala said: ‘I am full of admiration for Patrick White, and for the encouragement he has given to Australian writers. I met him several times and liked him. I am very honoured to receive this prestigious award given in his name, and the recognition it offers, as for a long time my writing has existed outside the major lines of Australian literature.’

Patrick White established the annual literary award using the proceeds of his 1973 Nobel Prize for Literature. The award, for authors who ‘have made a significant but inadequately recognised contribution to Australian literature’, does not involve a submission process. This year’s judging panel was chaired by Felicity Plunkett and included Julieanne Lamond and Michelle de Kretser.

‘Kefala’s longstanding contribution to Australian literature through her outstanding collection of fiction, poetry and collection of novellas and journals, encapsulates the very essence of the Patrick White Literary Award’, said Caitriona Fay, managing partner of community and social investment at Perpetual, which manages the award.


Antigone Kefala (born 1935) is an Australian poet and prose-writer of Greek-Romanian heritage. She has been a member of the Literature Board of the Australia Council and is acknowledged as being an important voice in capturing the migrant experience in contemporary Australia. In 2017, Kefala was awarded the State Library of Queensland Poetry Collection Judith Wright Calanthe Award at the Queensland Literary Awards for her collection of poems entitled Fragments.

Born in Brăila, Romania in 1935, Kefala and family moved to Greece and then New Zealand after World War II. Having studied French Literature at Victoria University and obtained a MA, she relocated to Sydney, Australia in 1960. There she has taught English as a second language and worked as a university and arts administrator. Her poetry and prose are written in both Greek and English, with Absence: New and Selected Poems reissued in a second edition in 1998.