Annamaria Weldon By the time she was ten, Annamaria Weldon had lived in North Africa, Britain, Central America and Malta and had spoken four languages. She migrated to Australia at the age of 34 from Malta, her birth island, where she had been working as a bilingual journalist and had just completed her first collection of published poetry. These early travels and mid-life relocation developed her special interest in cultural diversity, belonging and ecological awareness.
The latest of her four books, Stone Mother Tongue (UWAP October 2018), includes poems about her birth island’s stone-age goddess culture and the Maltese language. Weldon’s earlier book with UWAP, The Lake’s Apprentice (2014) includes poetry, nature essays, photographs and many references to Noongar names for flora and fauna. Writing Residencies with Symbiotica at the University of Western Australia and in Malta at St James Cavalier, facilitated field research for both these books.
Weldon’s previous poetry collections are The Roof Milkers (Sunline Press, 2008) and Ropes of Sand (Associated News Malta, 1984). Her poems have been published in Australian literary journals, anthologised, broadcast on ABC Radio National, and staged or exhibited in collaboration with contemporary dance and visual artists. Annamaria’s awards include the inaugural Nature Conservancy Australia Essay Prize, the Tom Collins Poetry Prize, Creatrix Prize and shortlisting in ABR‘s Peter Porter Poetry Prize
She has given poetry readings locally for over twenty years and more recently in Canberra, Sydney, Kangaroo Island, Singapore, Germany, Malta and Gozo. Annamaria has worked for outreach programs, developing arts skills for marginalised communities, including residents of Women’s Shelters, diversely-abled teenagers, remote writers and the elderly. Her poetry has featured at Regional Arts Festivals and at events for many groups which encourage greater understanding of their work through the Arts, from Palliative Care to the Landscape Architects Association of WA.
Annamaria is currently working on her memoir using poetry, prose, photos and handwritten letters she has carried around the world
INTERNATIONAL GUEST POET
RikTheMost (Ricki Livermore, NZ) is a truly powerful, prolifically travelling, vegan, queer, non-binary, polyamorous spoken word artist, event organiser and MC, who spends most of their spare time making homophobes feel uncomfortable.
Originally hailing from the UK, they started their poetry career there, over a decade ago, and performed just about everywhere, including the Royal Opera House, The Lost Lectures, Secret Garden Party, the UK Slam Finals, Jawdance, Bang Said The Gun… the list goes on. They were also responsible for the popular, long-running, London poetry event “Forget What You Heard” as well as creating and hosting the multi-platform (online and physical) national poetry slam: “NozSlam”.
Rik has been commissioned by the BBC – where they wrote two modern WW1 poems, for the UK centenary tour, and have recently been asked to feature on Sky Arts’ new TV series exploring the best of the UK’s spoken word artists – “Life and Rhymes”.
Their accolades now stretch across the world, having toured Australia – particularly Melbourne, the East Coast and Perth – including being published by the fabulous MullaMulla Press, and represented the very first Australian National Poetry Slam Team to compete in America at their National finals, as well as touring Texas. Rik has since been published by prestigious, Houston-based, YouTube Channel – “Write About Now” with their poem about the process of Trauma.
For the past three years Rik has been living and working in New Zealand where they were granted the rare “Exceptional Talent in the Arts Visa” and have been touring, creating shows and providing workshops ever since!
They were 2017 Wellington Regional Slam Champion; and ranked 2nd at the 2017 & 2018 NZ National Finals, as well as 3rd place in 2020. However, outside of slam, Rik has also been very busy: creating works with Christchurch’s Contemporary Art Gallery regarding climate change and waste; Wellington Pride Festival celebrating queer identity and providing visibility to their stories; Aum NYE Festival, where they are performer coordinator and curate numerous onsite shows; writing and delivering performances and workshops at Massey University and for National Youth Week & Festival Of Stories; being voted in as LGBTQIA+ representative and committee board member for New Zealand Poetry Society, and most recently creating and running New Zealand’s only regular online poetry community, event and slam – “Your Place”, which has a worldwide following.
As an artist constantly seeking understanding RikTheMost is intrigued by the psychology of choice, emotion, motivation, interaction and reaction and how fear and the overcoming of it direct us. Their poetry is philosophical, challenging, funny (at times), emotional (at others) and, as an ex-breakdancer and keen juggler, (always) embellished with interesting rhythms and complex word play! In essence, they enjoy taking inspiration from the, both, amazing and horrifying aspects of humanity to create works that question and deeply explore the world in which we live. And all of this wrapped up in their own unique brand of queer FIERCENESS!
NATIONAL GUEST POETS
Jill Jones (SA) was born in Sydney and has lived in Adelaide since 2008. She has published thirteen full-length poetry books including, most recently, Wild Curious Air (Recent Work Press), A History Of What I’ll Become (UWAP), Viva the Real (UQP), Brink (Five Islands Press), Breaking the Days (Whitmore Press), and The Beautiful Anxiety (Puncher & Wattmann) which won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry in 2015. She has also published a number of chapbooks and small books that have been published in Australia, Ireland and the US. An entry on her work was included in the current edition of The Oxford Companion to Modern Poetry in English.
Her work appears in a number of recent major anthologies including The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry, the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature, Contemporary Australian Poetry, Contemporary Australian Feminist Poetry and Anthology of Australian Prose Poetry.
In 1993 she won the Mary Gilmore Award for her first book of poetry, The Mask and the Jagged Star (Hazard Press). Her fourth book, Screens, Jets, Heaven: New and Selected Poems (Salt Publishing), won the 2003 Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.
Her books have also been shortlisted for The Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, The Age Poetry Book of the Year, the National Book Council ‘Banjo’ Awards, the NSW Premier’s Awards, and the Adelaide Festival Awards. Poems have been translated into Chinese, Dutch, French, Macedonian and Czech.
With Michael Farrell, she co-edited Out of the Box: Contemporary Australian Gay and Lesbian Poets (Puncher & Wattmann), the first anthology of contemporary Australian lesbian and gay poetry. She has also written a number of reviews, articles and essays, as well as short stories and micro-fiction.
In 2007 she was featured at the 23rd Festival International de la Poésie in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Canada. She has also read at various venues in Prague, Brno, Canterbury, London, Sheffield, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Auckland.
She has collaborated with photographer Annette Willis, and other visual artists, on a number of cross art-form projects. In 2014 she was writer-in-residence at Stockholm University, and in September 2018 was writer-in-residence at Booranga Writers Centre, Charles Sturt University.
She has been a reviewer of books, theatre and music for a number of periodicals and was a music and film reviewer for the Sydney Star Observer. She has also been involved in various literary publishing ventures over the years, including co-founder of lesbian and gay publishing house, BlackWattle Press. In more recent years, with Scots-Australian poet Alison Flett, she published chapbooks through Little Windows Press.
Currently she is a member of the J.M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice at the University of Adelaide, where she teaches creative writing. Before coming to teach in Adelaide, she worked in a number of different fields including legal publishing, journalism, government information, public policy, and arts administration. This included seven years as Program Manager for the Literature Board at the Australia Council for the Arts.
David McCooey (Vic) is a prize-winning poet and critic who lives in Geelong, where he is a professor of Writing and Literature at Deakin University. His poetry collections have won or been shortlisted for six major literary awards, including the Mary Gilmore Award and the Queensland Literary Awards. His latest book of poems, Star Struck, was published by UWA Publishing in 2016. His poetry has been widely anthologised, and it appeared in ten of the last eleven editions of The Best Australian Poems series. His poems have also been published in numerous national and international literary journals and newspapers. McCooey is the deputy general editor of the prize-winning Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature (2009). His scholarly research focuses on poetry and life writing. His monograph on modern Australian autobiography, Artful Histories (1996), was published by Cambridge University Press and won a NSW Premier’s Literary Award. David’s scholarly work has appeared in numerous books and journals, including The Cambridge History of Australian Literature (2009) and The Cambridge Companion to Postcolonial Poetry (2017). His articles and reviews have appeared in numerous books, journals, and newspapers, including The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald. He is also a sound artist and composer. His latest album (with Paul Hetherington) is The Apartment (2018).
LOCAL GUEST POETS
Cassie Lynch I am a writer, researcher and consultant living in Perth, Western Australia. I am a descendant of the Noongar people whose ancestral lands comprise the south west and south coast of Western Australia. I am currently researching a creative PhD investigating Aboriginal memory of deep time climate events such as ice ages and sea-level rise. I write poetry, short stories, essays and am currently working on a novel. In July 2020 I won the 2019 Patricia Hackett Prize for my poems titled ‘Five Haiku‘, presented by Westerly Magazine.
In 2019 I was the creative writer on Five Short Blasts Fremantle, a sonic art piece presented by Perth Festival that responds to the Derbarl Yerrigan/Swan River. Festival patrons travelled in flotillas of yellow boats up the river and listened to an audio track of woven histories provided by locals who have a relationship with the water there. I was commissioned to write and perform the creative piece ‘Riverland’ for the patrons to hear alongside the testimonies. You can watch a livestream of the 70 minute boat journey here and read a review here and here.
You can listen to one of my stories called ‘Float’ here, which imagines Perth as a floating city in the sky. It was recorded with ambient effects by Mei Swan Lim for the Deep Heritage exhibition at Cool Change Contemporary in June 2019. You can read my Artspace article about decolonisation here. You can read my article about doomsday preppers and Noongar memory of the last ice age here. You can read my short piece ‘Ricochet’ here in Westerly’s Ancestor’s Words special online edition. You can read my short story ‘Iridium’ about extinction and resilience in the ‘Other Suns’ zine here. You can listen to me as a podcast guest on ABC’s Kids Listen show Little Yarns where I share Noongar language in three episodes: Whale In Noongar, Honey Possum in Noongar, and Shore in Noongar.
You can purchase the ‘Stories of Perth’ anthology here which has my story ‘Split’ in it, which is about the swamps beneath Perth City re-emerging in deep time.
I learn LOTE Noongar with moorditj yok Sharon Gregory, a qualified Aboriginal language teacher and Whadjuk woman (https://noongarlanguage.com.au). I learn my south coast dialect from my Wirlomin Noongar family.
I am the artistic director and programmer for Woylie Fest, an all-Aboriginal storytelling festival for kids and teens. The inaugural festival ran over Easter in 2018, and ran again in July 2019. In 2020 Woylie Fest has expanded to include the Woylie Project, a writer’s development program that will get more Noongar stories into print and facilitate Noongar community members to read their stories in schools and festivals.
I am a frequent host, panel guest, and arts facilitator, and have previously worked with PICA, the Art Gallery of WA, Perth Writer’s Festival, City of Perth, Community Arts Group, and local book stores.
Emily Sun is a writer, poet and educator who grew up on Whadjuk Noongar Country/Perth Western Australia, and has published in various anthologies and journals including Cordite Poetry Review, Australian Poetry Journal, Meanjin, Mascara Literary Review, and Westerly.
Emily was a secondary school English teacher and taught in London, Sydney, Perth and regional WA. She has also worked as a sessional tutor and co-ordinator at various universities. In 2018 and 2019, she was the recipient of fellowships at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre and the Centre for Stories, and the runner-up in the national Deborah Cass Writing Prize (2018).
Currently, Emily is a PhD candidate at the University of Western Australia where she has started work on a historical fiction project. Vociferate|詠 (Fremantle Press) is her debut poetry collection.
Alexander Te Pohe
Alexander Te Pohe is a Māori trans man living on Whadjuk Noongar land. He writes young adult fiction and poetry. He has been published in Centre for Stories’ anthology To Hold The Clouds. His work also appears in Djed Press, Tiger Moth Review, and in Emerging Writers’ e/merge. Additionally, Alexander reviews young adult books for Rabble Books and Games.
Alexander Te Pohe is a Māori trans man living on Whadjuk Noongar land. He writes young adult fiction and poetry. In 2019 Alexander was a Hot Desk Fellow at Centre for Stories. Since then, his work has been published in Centre for Stories second anthology To Hold The Clouds: Emerging Writers From Perth. Alexander has also been published in Djed Press, Tiger Moth Review, in Emerging Writers’ e/merge, and as part of Centre for Stories’ Journal. Additionally, Alexander reviews young adult books for Rabble Books and Games. He particularly focuses on books by Black and Indigenous authors and authors of colour. Alexander was an artist in the 2019 National Young Writers’ Festival. In 2020 Alexander was an artist in the 2020 Emerging Writers’ Festival. He has also presented in Centre for Stories’ Breaking The Glass Slipper and in Third Culture Kids as part of the Centre for Stories’ 2020 Side Walks festival. Alexander is passionate about young adult fiction and poetry and using his work to represent Māori trans people like himself. Alexander’s pronouns are he/him/his.
Miriam Wei Wei Lo
Miriam Wei Wei Lo What does it mean to write? What options do we have while we inhabit, for a brief span of time, this material reality that could include mysterious invisible dimensions? These are some of the questions Miriam Wei Wei Lo asks when she writes.
If part of the gift of being human is the capacity to choose, Miriam chooses to explore what is true, and beautiful, and good; and she often chooses to do so within the genre of poetry: a genre with a rich, multilingual history of attention to the rhythm and music of language; a genre which also demonstrates, regularly, the paradoxical truth that freedom can be found in accepting constraints.
In seeking to discover what is true, beautiful, and good, Miriam often finds herself confronted by the gap between what is and what should be. This is the dissonant gap inhabited by anguish and longing. Poetry can probe this gap with art and compassion.
Miriam was born in Toronto, Canada to a Malaysian-Chinese father and an Anglo-Australian mother. She grew up in Singapore, going to a local girl’s school where house factions were named after dead white women and prefects measured the size of people’s earrings. She moved to Australia when she was nineteen.
Her university history includes an arts degree from the University of Western Australia and a PhD in creative writing from the University of Queensland. Miriam’s first book, Against Certain Capture, a book about her grandmothers, won the Western Australian Premier’s Prize for poetry in 2005. This win came at an awkward time. Miriam had decided to stay home with her three young children and struggled to keep writing, especially after moving to Margaret River. She is enormously grateful to the people who kept goading her to write. It is largely due to them that her work appears in anthologies such as The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry, Contemporary Asian Australian Poets, The Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry, and To Gather Your Leaving; as well as in a chapbook (No Pretty Words) in the Wagtail series.
Miriam never expected to return to the academic field and was questioning why she had bothered with a PhD when a phone-call out of the blue changed everything. She now works part-time for Sheridan Institute teaching creative writing to tertiary students. It is a joy and privilege to work with people who want to write; almost like being a midwife (her other ideal job).
Miriam is married to Mike and lives in an extended family household on Whadjuk Noongar boodja in the Shire of Fremantle. They go to a quirky, ethnically diverse church. Miriam likes snorkelling, talking to God, and running on the beach with her dog. She is currently reading Li-Young Lee, Bernadine Evaristo, Jeanne Murray Walker, and Nazim Hikmet.