2020 Perth Poetry Festival Guest Biographies

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Festival Patron

Andrew Burke (with apologies to Borges) The other one, the one called Burke, is the one things happen to. I walk through the streets of Bassendean and stop for a moment, perhaps mechanically now, to look at the train carriage of Dome restaurant and the green vine growing from parking area to upper deck; I know of Burke from the internet and see his name on a list of poets or in a biodata of Australian Poetry Anthology, Volume 7 2019. I like sunglasses, capucino, graffiti typography, the taste of red gum honey and the plays of Samuel Beckett; he shares these preferences, but in a public way that turns them into the attributes of a Leo. It would be an exaggeration to say that ours is a hostile relationship; I live, let myself go on living, so that Burke may contrive his literature, and this literature justifies me. It is no effort for me to confess that he has achieved some valid pages, but those pages cannot save me, perhaps because what is good belongs to no one, not even to him, but rather to the language and to tradition. Besides, I am destined to perish, definitively, and only some instant of myself can survive in him. Little by little, I am giving over everything to him, though I am quite aware of his perverse custom of falsifying and magnifying things.

Spinoza knew that all things long to persist in their being; the stone eternally wants to be a stone and the tiger a tiger. I shall remain in Burke, not in myself (if it is true that I am someone), but I recognize myself less in his books than in many others or in the syncopated rhythms and blues traditions of jazz. Years ago I tried to free myself from him and went from the mythologies of the suburbs to the games with time and infinity, but those games belong to Burke now and I shall have to imagine other things. Thus my life is a flight and I lose everything and everything belongs to oblivion, or to him.

I do not know which of us has written this


International Poet

Michael Dylan Welch (USA, via Zoom) has been investigating haiku and related poetry since 1976. He founded his press, Press Here, in 1989, and cofounded Haiku North America (HNA) in 1991 and the American Haiku Archives in 1996. He founded the Tanka Society of America in 2000, the Seabeck Haiku Getaway in 2008, and National Haiku Writing Month (www.nahaiwrimo.com) in 2010. Michael was keynote speaker for the 2013 Haiku International Association convention in Tokyo. He is president of the Redmond Association of Spokenword, and has also curated monthly SoulFood Poetry Night readings since 2006. He served as poet laureate of Redmond, Washington from 2013 to 2015. Michael has published his poetry, essays, and reviews in hundreds of journals and anthologies in more than twenty languages, and has also published numerous books, the most recent of which include Sitting in the Sun (the 2019 HNA conference anthology), Jumble Box (NaHaiWriMo anthology), Seven Suns / Seven Moons (with Tanya McDonald), Off the Beaten Track: A Year in Haiku (with eleven other poets), and Becoming a Haiku Poet, among other collections. Michael lives in Sammamish, Washington.

National Poets

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Anne-Marie Te Whiu (Annie) (Qld) was born and raised in Brisbane and belongs to Te Rarawa in Aotearoa. She is the co-editor of Solid Air: Australian and New Zealand Spoken Word (University of Queensland Press) and was co-director of the Queensland Poetry Festival from 2015 to 2017. She is a poet, weaver and cultural producer, currently working as a Senior Project Manager at Red Room Poetry in Sydney.

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David McCooey (Vic., via Zoom) is a prize-winning poet and critic. He is the author of three full-length collections of poetry, the latest of which is Star Struck (UWA Publishing, 2016). His poetry has been widely anthologised, and it appeared in ten of the last eleven editions of The Best Australian Poems series. He is the deputy general editor of the prize-winning Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature (2009). He is also a sound artist. His latest album (with Paul Hetherington) is The Apartment (2018). He lives in Geelong, where he is a professor of Writing and Literature at Deakin University.

Unfortunately David McCooey has reluctantly withdrawn from the Festival  for personal reasons. WA Poets apologises for the inconvenience.

David Stavanger 2020 (2).jpgDavid Stavanger (Qld) is an award-winning poet, performer, cultural producer, editor and lapsed psychologist. In 2013 he won the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize, resulting in The Special (UQP), which was also awarded the 2015 Wesley Michel Wright Poetry Prize. He was selected as a 2018 Melbourne Visiting Poet by RMIT/Australian Poetry. David co-edited Australian Poetry Journal’s 8.2 SPOKEN edition (2018) and Rabbit Journal’s TENSE issue (2019), and is co-editor with Anne-Marie Te Whiu of SOLID AIR: Australian & New Zealand Spoken Word (2019, UQP) which is the first ever anthology of spoken word in this region. He was Co-Director of the Queensland Poetry Festival from 2015-17 and currently works as a Senior Project Manager for Red Room Poetry. David is also known as Green Room-nominated spoken word artist Ghostboy, winning the Nimbin Performance Poetry World Cup and helping to establish poetry slam in Australia. His latest collection Case Notes was released by UWAP in 2020.  These days he lives between the stage and the page.

Local Poets


Fable Goldsmith is a gender diverse artist, performance poet, athlete, and queer mother of three children living with disabilities. Fable began writing in 2017, and has since gone on to win the Western Australian Slam Final in 2018 and 2019, performing to sell-out crowds in the National Finals at the Sydney each year.

Fable is a Fremantle Press Emerging Writer, whose work is autobiographical in nature and often loaded, confronting, honest, and heartbreaking. Their poetry exposes who we are and the beauty, strength and fragility that exist within adversity. Fable’s poetry is their vision for awareness, understanding, acceptance and change.

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Samantha Melia, originally from Dublin, Ireland studied psychology and sociology, After graduation, she went traveling and settled in the Bronx, NYC for ten years. She relocated to Perth, Western Australia, where she currently lives with her Irish husband and two daughters Realtin age 7 and Regan age 4.

Samantha has always had a deep passion and love for the written word, especially poetry. Although she has always written poetry, she has recently completed her first collection of poetry Love and Loss which will be available soon. She writes about her travels, childhood, birth, death, self-discovery and experiences that shape the conscious and subconscious mind. She also produces her poetry with images on canvas.

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photo by Emma Daisy

Taonga Sendama is a poet, multimedia storyteller and workshop coordinator whose work centres on vulnerability and intersections of identity. Through her art she aims to build community connections through collaborations with artists and provide a space of healing and familiarity for others.

Mike Williams

Mike Williams writes poetry and fiction. His two novels, Old Jazz and The Music of Dunes, were published by Fremantle Press. Some of his fiction and poems have appeared in various literary journals. He currently works for a bookshop in Perth and is tapping away at a collection of short fiction and poetry when time permits.

Unfortunately Mike has reluctantly withdrawn from the Festival  for health reasons. WA Poets apologises for the inconvenience.

The 2020 Perth Poetry Festival acknowledges the support of the Western Australian State Government, through BE Perth, and receives funds from Creative Partnerships Australia through the Australia Cultural Fund. This Festival is supported by;

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