The 2019 XYZ Prize for Innovation in Spoken Word winner: Fable Goldsmith and Rae White

In its 5th year, the Arts Queensland XYZ Prize for Innovation in Spoken Word is Australia’s only national arts award that recognises the growing field of spoken word and is named after the former 2010 Arts Queensland Poet in Residence, Emily XYZ, who left a deep impression on many of today’s Queensland spoken word artists. It is open to applicants Australia-wide.

This year, the winner of The 2019 XYZ Prize is Fable Goldsmith and the highest placed QLD entry is Rae White.

Home – Fable Goldsmith

I kiss her first.
I wait
I hold my breath,
in this moment reciprocation means
I do not know if I can take another
breath without it.
I draw breath as she kisses me back
I take her in,
Holding on to each breath
As If I have only ever breathed

How light she feels,
How she fills
the empty space
inside my chest,
How she navigates
her way into my veins,
turns question to meaning,
meaning to answer.
I surrender.
my body to hers
naked and honest, trembling
This is the first time
I am not afraid.
The first time
another body has become
a safe space.

We find each other in the dark,
as our hands reach
we find ourselves in each other
navigating new worlds
under bed sheets.

She tells me
my body is a poem
she will never get tired of reading
a trail
she will never tire of taking
She tells me home
is where we both stand.

Years pass,
Every time I touch her feels
like the first time,
I still catch my breath from her kisses
Her skin is always new

Years pass,
I kiss her first
She stalls
Holds her breath,
hands trembling as if
holding a trigger
she just can’t bring herself to pull

She fires.

Her honesty becomes a rain of bullets
and I the only target


She tells me her heart is needy,
never full


she tells me
her hands are travellers,
that have wandered from my touch.


She tells me her mouth is hungry
feasts on new adventures,
new skin, new kisses.


She tells me she still loves me
then tells me she loves
more than just I, can ever be
in the same breath

In this, I know
my body has become a map
That she knows too well
In this, I know
my story is a magic trick
she has seen too many times.

In this
I know I will never be enough.

I stay,
desperate for the chance that
someday she will settle.
that one day,
she will catch the first flight
back back to me
I stay.

I do not know where else to go

She holds me in the dark
but now
The space between us is a divide
I know my body can never
Now, when she kisses me,
I try to breath her in
but each breath,
escapes my lungs,
each breath reminding me
of how empty I have again become.

Every time I touch her feels like
the last
Like I am holding
water in my hands,
too tightly
she is gone,
too gently
she is gone
I hold her knowing that
one day
there will be nothing left.

Every day
I try to change.
I try to make myself new
but my body,
it always betrays me
can never be anything more than it is
nothing more than a poem
she learned by heart
so many years ago.

My heartbeat echoes
in the empty space within her chest
tells a story
of something we once had
Now every day I’m just trying to find home

Fable Goldsmith is a gender diverse artist, performance poet ,athlete and queer mother of three neurodivergent children after qualifying for the APS state final just months after the creation of their very first poem in 2017 they continued to pursue their passion for writing going on to win the West Australian final in 2018 before performing to a sell-out crowd at the Sydney Opera House placing third in the country

Fable has since been awarded a number of opportunities including but not limited to, features at fringe world Perth Perth Poetry festival, Spoken Word Perth and Perth poetry Club.

Most recently Fable won the Queensland XYZ innovation in Spoken Word Prize 2019 as well as winning the WA Final in the Australian Poetry Slam 2019, Fable will be competing at the National Final in Sydney in October.

Fable’s work is autobiographical in nature and through poetry audiences are offered a glimpse into a world less ordinary as Fable navigates and explores their trauma and experience. 

Fable’s work is often loaded confronting honest and heartbreaking but tells a very important story of who we are as they expose the beauty, strength and fragility that exist within adversity. Fable continues to use poetry as a platform for awareness, acceptance, understanding and change.

Hussshhh – Rae White

I walk into the women’s
toilets and the unravelling de
gendering of it makes my head
tilt below my collarbone. Someone
clears their throat. ‘But I thought you were enby?’
and scientists have discovered the radical
genderqueer pees only in spaces
not dedicated to them, as a sign of respect
for the binary. The hiss of toilet cistern
sounds like the act
of silencing: sssshhhh
you’re more effective
when you’re quiet.
Hussshhh, speak
under not over
the toilet, just crawl right in
between brush and bowl. Whispers
between stalls: sssshhh e she
is less talkative
these days, I think their species
is learning.

Rae White is a non-binary poet, writer and zinester living in Brisbane. Their poetry collection Milk Teeth won the 2017 Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize and is published by the University of Queensland Press. Rae’s poem ‘what even r u?’ placed second in the 2017 Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize. Rae’s poetry has been published in Cordite Poetry Review, Meanjin Quarterly, Overland, Rabbit and others. Rae is the editor of #EnbyLife, a journal for non-binary and gender diverse creatives.

Annie Solah