Poet and Novelist



A site. A trace.


Please send any comments through the CONTACT form on this website.

Philip Salom is a contemporary Australian poet and novelist whose books have attracted widespread acclaim. He has published eighteen books - fourteen collections of poetry and four novels - notable for their originality and expansiveness and for surprising differences from title to title.  

Salom's new novel THE RETURNS is published by Transit Lounge. 


THE RETURNS has just been named a finalist in the 2020 Miles Franklin Award


The Returns follows his acclaimed novel Waiting back into the streets and lives of a fictional North Melbourne. It has received admiring reviews by leading reviewers in The Australian (Geordie Williamson), the Sydney Review of Books  (James Ley) and The Age/Sydney Morning Herald (Kerryn Goldsworthy). Plus ABR and many online reviews.





2020 Miles Franklin Judges comments include:

This novel is a celebration of the humble and unsung. The pithy observations, authentic dialogue and keenly rendered characterisation give weight to even the most minor of players and celebrates the poetry of ordinary existence. There is a joyousness in the author's use of the well-turned phrase that makes this slice-of-life novel a delight to read, not least of all because of its spirit of generosity in regards to people’s follies and foibles.

Salom's 2016 novel Waiting was also a finalist for the Miles Franklin Award. Judges comments for Waiting:

"Waiting centres on a pair of odd couples ...   Salom interweaves their tales, with walk-ons by an eclectic cast of eccentrics, to dissect the vulnerabilities of the human condition (loneliness, fear of intimacy, powerlessness, guilt), the power of the past to haunt us, the fear of the future to mire us, and the redemptive effects of love and acceptance.

Waiting is poignant, compassionate and droll; it is never maudlin nor idealised. Salom’s prose, poetic and frequently playful, bestows a multiplicity of incidental insights en route, yet never condescends to its subjects nor patronises its readers. As rollicking as it is original and affecting, Waiting is a highly readable addition to Australian literature."


Waiting was also shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Award for Literature and the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Fiction.

From the PM's Judges Report:

"Philip Salom's Waiting is a reflective and subtly powerful novel ... The novel vibrates with the language of the street and the speaking voices of the many characters is brilliantly captured by Salom, whose poetry background is apparent. The suburban rooming house which is central to the novel reverberates with wit and intensity and the cast of characters that live and die in this boarding house is achingly authentic. Their impoverished circumstances, daily struggles with health and mental capacity are all handled with sensitivity and a unique voice.

Waiting is a beautiful telling of the lives of ordinary people."


Comments from the Premier's Prize judges:

"At times cerebral, at times hilarious, and at times devastating, Waiting is peopled with misfit characters who have often been maligned by society. Salom takes great risks with language, plot and pacing, and his poet’s flair for expression resonates through much of the novel. This book is philosophical, erudite and serious, but never takes itself too seriously – a fine and difficult balance to achieve."


Several of the fulsome reviews of Waiting can be found on the Puncher and Wattmann website. This one was the first off the rank:


'In his brilliant and unsettling novel Waiting, Philip Salom has unleashed Australia's oddest literary couple since the elderly twin brothers Arthur and Waldo Brown in Patrick White's The Solid Mandala ...'

To read full review:

Peter Pierce reviews Waiting in The Australian


Philip's third novel, Waiting, has also received outstanding responses in media and social media - including full reviews in The Australian, The Age/Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Book Review, The Saturday Paper, the West Australian, TEXT Journal and Cordite Journal. Reviewers have been impressed by the novel's extraordinary characters and the overall wit and compassion of the writing. They also focus on the novel's unique sociological context: of outsiderness and rooming houses. It is a strikingly different book. One book club ordered 48 books (!) and Waiting seems perfect for book club discussion.

My contact :


Philip Salom, the author. Below, the book launch in 2016.




Thanks to everyone who made it to the launch of Waiting. With an introduction from David Musgrave, publisher (top right) and a wonderful launch speech from Marion Campbell * (top left). Thanks to Peter Stagg for the photos.

Melbourne Launch of ‘Waiting’ is in the perfect place

The Lithuanian Club has hosted many Comedy Festival events in recent years. It was the office of Alphonse Gangitano in the Underbelly series and is the sort of place where Jack Irish will get into trouble (in the current series). The perfect place, therefore, to launch my novel Waiting  - which is full of marginal characters local to North Melbourne. 



The terrific cover photo was taken by Tim Grey. 


* Marion May Campbell is a unique figure in Australian writing. She has published five novels including Not Being Miriam and Lines of Flight  - her dramatic entry into Australian literature. More recently she has published a hybrid prose/poetry book Fragments From a Paper Witch  and the novel Konkretion. Marion is currently Associate Professor at Deakin University.

If you didn't get to the launch, Waiting is available on the Puncher & Wattmann website.


Alterworld (poetry collection) and other news

In January 2015 Puncher & Wattmann published Alterworld, my most comprehensive collection yet. 

It is a slimmed-down and slightly re-written version of two previous books - Sky Poems and The Well Mouth - plus a full selection of new poems. This trilogy is made from collections interspersed over 27 years and forms a blend of observed and imagined existence. The Sky is an ironic and flawed C20th Heaven or Paradise, the Well is an end-stopped poem of Limbo, and Alterworld is the contingent world of the C21st we might just live in (it's funnier but just as strange as the others).

Despite their differences in age - 1987, 2005, 2015 - they are in a relationship. A metaphysical menage a trois.

Now that Sky Poems and The Well Mouth can be read together with Alterworld, they are in subtle ways changed, modified, and altered ... Alterworld 'remembers' the previous worlds of the Sky and the Well. Available for purchase on the Puncher & Wattmann website.

(For information on the two previously published books, see Books.)

Keepers trilogy

Two books I published in 2011 and 2012 carry the titles The Keeper of Fish and Keeping Carter - written by Alan Fish and M A Carter, two heteronyms who took control of my head and insisted on a public text for their disembodied thoughts, ie: a collection of poems each. Closet poets closeted somewhere inside me. Now out of the closet in text if not in body. They are eccentric and very different. See my Blog entry for more about Fish and Carter. These two books also complete the trilogy begun with Keepers.

A week or two before the Melbourne launch, The Keeper of Fish sold out. P&W had it re-printed just in time. Carter is catching up!

My previous book, Keepers, is a variation on the verse-novel, with a poem on each page and a prose narrative under it. It is both serious and mischievous, a study of the kind of Creative Arts institutions I taught in for 20 years. It is a chance to place portraits of actual artists alongside fictional ones, and in that way keep the creative gate open. It's odd in the entertaining sense, but then there's nothing odder than teaching the thinking and the making of art. Staff and students and artists all... are characters. Finally, in the Books section of this site you can see some of the books I have published and a brief account of how each (currently available book) was developed. They are very different, so each genesis was a variation on the expected. One of the great pleasures of trying out original beginnings is finding the final form and the satisfaction (usually short-lived!) of holding a first copy of the book. There is also something about Why each book was begun, though that's tricky territory... There are six menu sections featuring books, poems, writings and musings, plus images - and even a video player (embedded in Shorts) to show off live links. I hope you enjoy the time spent.

KeepersThe Keeper of Fish and Keeping Carter can all be found on the Puncher & Wattmann website.

Philip Salom April 02, 2011