2021 Perth Poetry Festival Workshops

WA Poets Inc, as part of the 2021 Perth Poetry Festival, is pleased to offer a series of workshops that will extend and complement your poetry writing.

Cost per workshop
$30 Regular
$25 WA Poets Inc and Writers United members, Students and Pensioners.

To book workshops goto:  https://www.trybooking.com/BSEKR
RikTheMost workshop is via Zoom, click here to book
David McCooey workshop is now a Zoom event, click here to book
Jill Jones workshop is now a Zoom event, click here to book

Places are limited and a booking fee applies to all purchases.

Workshops will involve written exercises, please bring appropriate materials.

For the latest updates, visit our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/wapoets


Queens Building, Level 1, 97 William St. Perth (Note: this venue is not heated).

These workshops take place on Whadjuk Noongar land. WAPI acknowledges the traditional custodians of this land and extend our respect to Elders past, present and future.



Saturday 11th Sept.
9.30–11am What does it mean to stand on Aboriginal land as a writer/poet? Sunny Wignall
11.30am–1pm Reading to Write Poetry Alexander Te Pohe

Sunday 12th Sept.
9.30–11am Democratising Poetry Emily Sun
11.30am–1pm What I Want to Say About You Miriam Wei Wei Lo

Saturday 18th Sept.
9.30–11am Haiku on Country Cass Lynch
11.30am–1pm When There Are No Words RikTheMost (via Zoom, click here to book)

Sunday 19th Sept.
9.30–11am The Poetry of Things David McCooey (Via Zoom, click here to book)
11.30am–1pm Taking Chances Jill Jones (Via Zoom, click here to book)


What does it mean to stand on Aboriginal land as a writer/poet?-reckoning with Australia’s colonial legacy in your writing

Sunny Wignall
Saturday 11th September

———————-There is no part of this place
———————-that was not
———————-is not
———————-cared for
———————-by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander nation
———————-There are no trees
———————-that were not
———————-are not
———————-someone’s kin

———————- Stolen Land (excerpt), Ambelin Kwaymullina (2020)
Kwaymullina, A. (2020). Living on Stolen Land. Broome, WA: Magabala Books

This workshop is an opportunity to move towards a reckoning of colonisation and decolonisation from your unique perspective. Referencing Ambelin Kwaymullina’s prose-poetry book: Living on Stolen Land, we’ll explore and reflect on what it means to write and live on Aboriginal land, allowing space to reflect on this as an attempt at decolonisation. Other exercises will include: use of the conventions of the Acknowledgment of Country/Welcome to Country to offer poetic form; metaphor as a vehicle for a felt-engagement; and consideration of the work of contemporary Aboriginal poets and others.

If you’re unsure this workshop is for you, or feel hesitant or unqualified, come anyway!

All accompanying intersectionalities will be welcome and celebrated.

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Reading to Write Poetry

Alexander Te Pohe
Saturday 11th September

In ‘Reading to Write Poetry’ participants will be guided to write original poetry based on a poetry or prose text. They will require pens/pencils and note writing paper.

The workshop will begin with an introduction from myself including my name, pronouns, and a short bio. I will then ask everyone to introduce themselves by saying their name, pronouns, and what they write or would be interested in writing about. I will then give an outline of the workshop so everyone has a rough idea about where the session is heading. I will touch on the fact that reading poetry is what inspired me to start writing poetry.

After, participants will be given texts to read. The texts will be across a variety of forms including poetry, short stories, and novels. They will choose one text and be asked to think about and note down what they like or find interesting about the text. Texts include: Blakwork by Alison Whittaker, Flock edited by Ellen Van Neerven, The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina, and The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms edited by Mark Strand and Eavan Boland. Each text will be bookmarked at various poems and/or passages I find may be helpful or interesting in the context of the workshop. This will aid in the participants selection of their chosen text.

Participants will then discuss these texts as a group. I will ask them questions like: what do you like and dislike about these texts? What engaged you about the texts you read? How do the authors use language and structure in these texts to convey meaning? The discussion about the texts will help the participants think about language and poetic forms before they write their own poems.

The participants will then be asked to pick an image, word, poem or passage from one of the texts as a jumping off point for their original poem. I will provide them with a few options if they can’t pick a text to work from.

While they are making their choice, I will show them what I want them to do. I will use a pre-prepared selected text to brainstorm ideas for an original poem and then write a few lines of the poem. The participants will then write their original poems. I will monitor their progress and provide them with help.

Once the participants are finished writing there will be a period of time to share the poems they have written. The participants will read, or have their poems read by me, to the class. The session will finish with a short discussion. Participants will discuss what they like about their poems, what they think they could do better, and how they would approach writing a poem in the future.

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Democratising Poetry

Emily Sun
Sunday 12th September

For many of us who have been churned through the school system, poetry is something to be endured as the teacher stands before the class and brain-vomits what needs to be learnt in order to pass assessments A, B, C through to Z.  It is a form that has been placed in the highest ivory tower and thought of as a rarefied form offered to a select few. 

But poetry is the soul of society and poetry is our soul. 

Poetry is for everyone.

In this session Emily will share with you how and why she returned to writing poetry. She will also share with you some of her favourite poems and people who inspire her to continue writing in this form.

The only pre-requisite for this workshop is the desire to write.

So, come along with something to write on, something to write with, and your open hearts and minds.

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What I Want to Say About You

Miriam Wei Wei Lo
Sunday 12th September

Another word for father is worry.

“Worry boils the water

for tea in the middle of the night.” Li-Young Lee, Words for Worry.

Other people! How do they make us feel? Tender, angry, anxious, full of longing, intrigued, disgusted, proud, sorrowful, exasperated? Humans are relational creatures, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a lot of our art, including our poetry, is about other people.

This workshop is for anyone who would like to write a poem about another person. The aim of this workshop is to produce a first draft poem. Poets will need to decide who they want to write about before the workshop as there will be no time to do this during the workshop. Please bring a photo of the person if you can.

We will generate raw material for our poems by doing a series of 5-minute exercises:

  • Detailed Physical Description
  • A Story I Remember
  • How They Made Me Feel (or Not)
  • What Sort of Poem Could This Be?
  • Choosing a Point of View

We will then spend about 30 minutes pulling a rough first draft of a poem together.

In the last half hour of this workshop, we will have the opportunity to share our first drafts by reading them out loud to the group. Sharing is optional, but gently encouraged. As this will be raw, new work, the only feedback we will give one another is positive feedback and we will write this feedback down as a gift for each poet who shares their work. Tips on offering helpful positive feedback will be provided. If the group is large, we will break into smaller groups for this section.

Example poems or extracts used in this workshop will come from work by Lauren Williams, Robert Browning, Alvin Pang, Lang Leav, Kevin Hart, Elfie Shiosaki, Li-Young Lee and Jeanne Murray Walker; as well as from workshop facilitator Miriam Wei Wei Lo’s award-winning book about her grandmothers: Against Certain Capture.

Please come at least 5 minutes early so we will start on time.

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Haiku on Country

Cass Lynch
Saturday 18th September

Haikus are simple, uncrowded poems that capture a moment in time. This workshop with Noongar poet Cass Lynch explores the history of the haiku, from its emergence in Japan to its popularity as a form around the world. Cass will share her creative and cultural journey of writing the Noongar language haikus that won the 2019 Patricia Hackett Prize, and discuss the revitalisation of the Noongar language and the practice of writing bilingual poetry. Workshop participants will be led in a writing exercise that centres the concepts valued by the haiku form, such as place, the seasons, and the senses.   

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When There Are No Words 

Saturday 18th September
11.30am—1.00pm (via Zoom; to book goto: https://www.trybooking.com/BSEKU)

It can be argued that, as humans, we are both fortunate and cursed to experience such a broad and colourful range of emotions: high highs, crushing lows, the softness of love, the pain of rejection, the bitter and sweetness of empathy, anger at injustice, bursts of pride, the collective isolation of grief – the list goes on… and, of course, there are the confusingly dissonant mixtures of each. 

And yet, sadly, countless times we hear the statement: “There are no words”, seemingly helplessly uttered by mourners at funerals, or out of the mouths of world class athletes who have just achieved the pinnacle of their sport, or from a parent who has witnessed the birth of their child, or as we gaze on in disbelief at another News segment… As if condemned to either forever-silently suffer, celebrate, or never know them at all.  

RikTheMost does not like nor believe this. 

In every situation, emotion or interaction there is a picture – whether that picture be the endless minutia of a face and its expressions or an ostensibly innocuous background.  And, a picture can, indeed, paint a thousand words, so even in the most difficult to describe or hard to capture moments, words are, for sure, the one thing not in short supply. 

And not only are there pictures; there are sounds, there are feelings, comparisons, smells, textures: a whole range of senses we can draw upon, and words are an incredibly empowering tool with which we can convey them – if we choose to make the effort to do so. 

During this workshop, Rik will share with you some of their favourite techniques for finding words when there supposedly are none, pushing past the surface-level habit of turning away from that which goes often unnoticed or disregarded as inexplicable. 

Rik firmly believes that the core of poetry is taking time to notice things with intention; participants will be provided with written, and thought, exercises to unlock their ability to notice, make connections and develop ideas, as well as put words to what they find – using structured, and freer-form activities. 

As a performance-based poet – Rik also believes that there is tremendous power, not just in the words chosen but also how they are spoken, and that performance can and should have a direct effect on the composition process.  So come prepared for speaking out loud and sharing, as a means of creation and editing – though don’t worry, this is an online workshop, so you can always mute your microphone! 

Participants should leave the workshop with a poem or at least the strong sense of something closely resembling one, a closer understanding and analysis of the importance of voice and a few new approaches to tackling the times when there are no words. 

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The Poetry of Things

David McCooey
Sunday 19th September
9.30—11.00am (via Zoom; to book goto: https://www.trybooking.com/BTRSX

We live in a world of things. This workshop is concerned with how we can use poetic language to make the most ordinary of things compelling. As such, it is about how poetry can help us attend to the world around us in new ways. It also gives one answer to the question all poets have to deal with every time they write: ‘What can we write poems about?’ The simple answer to this question is ‘anything’. Poets have long written about historical or mythical events (such as the Trojan War in Homer’s Iliad), and they have also written about abstract ideas (such as love), and emotional experiences (such as being in love). But the world around us is made up of things, and indeed we ourselves have a material existence, so that while we are (thinking and feeling) ‘human subjects’, our material condition means that we share, however ambiguously, the material realm in which objects exist.

In this workshop we will think about this shared realm as a source of a ‘poetry of things’, and we will learn how to write a ‘thing poem’ (or ‘dinggedicht’ as it is sometimes called). In learning to write such a poem, we will learn different ways in which poets can represent things through various types of stylisation, and understand how (and why) poetic language can engage in the literary technique of ‘defamiliarisation’.

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Taking Chances: Using Improvisation in Poem Making

Jill Jones
Sunday 19th September
11.30am—1.00pm (via Zoom; to book goto: https://www.trybooking.com/BTRTA

Getting started on writing a poem, at least on some days, is difficult, maybe even impossible. If we rely only on what is called ‘inspiration’ nothing may happen; all we’re left with is an empty page or screen. Or the poem that we eventually write if we push ourselves is not fresh, surprising or interesting.

This workshop looks at ways of working with form and process, and specifically at what I am calling improvisational thinking, as a way of getting outside of the prison of ‘inspiration’, and of getting outside oneself in the process. These ideas are intended to provide ways of ‘starting up work’ that also go into new, fresh areas of writing for each participant.

Participants will first consider examples of poems by poets who have used chance and improvisation, in different ways.

These approaches are usually based on a formal intention. They include setting up a poem form or the idea of a ‘spine’ for a poem around which ideas can be improvised. They can involve forms of collage or word and phrase gathering, which can include self-collage, or the combining of some kind of chance operation such as those pioneered by writers such as John Cage or the OULIPO group, alongside a specific intention, to generate first drafts. Another approach to be considered involves making new connections between apparently un-related lines, or observations, or ideas.

Participants will then undertake some writing, using one of three strategies, the form/spine approach, the collage approach, or the juxtapositional approach – whichever they feel may best challenge their normal process or extend some of their current ways of approaching the first draft of a poem.

They may opt for a centering idea based around a constraint or form (number of words, syllables, lines, repetitions), or set up the idea of a ‘spine’ or centering idea (repetition, theme).

They may opt to focus on language they may not normally use. The poems offered for discussion will be used as a basis for developing a list. They will then use as many of them as possible to make a poem.

They may wish to use a form of juxtaposition as a way of making new and surprising connections between various poetry materials such as lines, phrases, or observational modes.

There will be time to both write a first draft of a poem – specific guidance will be given – and to discuss how the process each writer used generated new ideas, forms or connections for this draft and further writing.

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The 2021 Perth Poetry Festival  receives funds from Creative Partnerships Australia through the Australia Cultural Fund and is supported by;