"They Cannot Say Their Thoughts” – Winning Poem of the Ford Memorial Prize

25 March 2022

Congratulations to poet, writer and UQ student – Sharlene Allsopp, who has written a thought-provoking poem entitled, "They Cannot Say Their Thoughts." This work was recently awarded the annual Ford Memorial Prize.

What is the Ford Memorial Prize? 

Founded in 1916, the Ford Memorial Prize was originally a gift of $200 from the Queensland United Licensed Victuallers’ Association. It honours the memory of Lieutenant S.K Ford and Corporal T.W Ford—brothers who gave their lives to the Empire. 

Now, it serves as an undergraduate award given to the best English poem, published or unpublished. Though the prize may vary each year, the submission conditions of the award remain the same, to celebrate the poetic artistry of UQ’s finest. 

Sitting down with Sharlene Allsopp 

UQ Bachelor of Arts student Sharlene Allsopp

Sharlene is in her final year of a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Writing and English Literature. In addition to her various poems and short stories, she has her own website and a complete novel that is currently under consideration for publishing. 

When initially asked about “They Cannot Say Their Thoughts” Sharlene explained that it was about identity.

“It’s a poem concerned with reconciling the black and white parts of my identity and the language we use to navigate those identities.” 

Sharlene continued, "Trying to cram my heart into four lines was like being forced to learn a new language. And yet, lyrical language is at the heart of the poem and of my expression of who I am. I am not confined to the conventions of the English language."

Her winning poem has been included in the pages of Griffith Review 76: Acts of Reckoning.

Sharlene credits the assistance she received from her peers and mentors at UQ in helping her achieve the impressive milestone of writing a novel. In this context, she expressed her appreciation for having been able to work alongside like-minded and equally passionate people. 

“These past five years at UQ have been a joy. The relationships and mentors I have found... have led to multiple publications and the achievement of writing a novel.” 

When asked about her future goals, Sharlene replied,  "My novel is currently in negotiations with publishers, so I hope to have it out in the world sometime in the next year or two. My goal is to write and publish more novels and short pieces, especially poetry, that are concerned with decolonising the self and exploring themes of belonging."

Congratulations again Sharlene, the School looks forward to seeing what you achieve next in the world of writing and publishing!

Written by Ethan Theen Wan Choe.