Kochava Lilit (zey/zir) is a queer disabled activist and writer who absolutely loves being autistic, ADHD, and Jewish. Zey volunteers with the trans collective Ygender, has performed with the queer disability collective Quippings, and is interested in neurodivergent culture, diaspora, access intimacy, and anger as a form of optimism. You can find zir online as @QueerJewishCrip and at activistbookshelf.com.
Terri Ann Quan Sing writes poems and writes about poems. You can find more of her work online in Peril, Stilts Poetry Journal, Meanjin, Mascara Literary Review, The Lifted Brow, and Scum Mag. She tweets @terriannqs.
Aseel is an important voice in the Australian cultural landscape. As a Palestinian artist/activist, Aseel has been instrumental in using her cultural practice to shed light on the experiences of those living in war-torn countries and conditions. She is a fierce and compassionate advocate for humanity, and for humans to deal with each other with dignity, kindness and respect.
Aseel is a prolific art maker, drawing diverse participants into her orbit through the courage of her convictions and the power of her stories. Aseel is a highly capable project manager, overseeing culturally complex and sensitive processes with care, intellect and rigour.
Since arriving in Melbourne, Aseel has been an unstoppable force in the cultural landscape. She has created numerous new works such as Bukjeh and Lullabies Under the Stars, inviting communities into the experience of asylum seekers and refugees, through deeply personal and transformational multiart engagements. She has built partnerships with key cultural organisations such as Arts Centre Melbourne, Polyglot, Arts House, Arts Front and Multicultural Arts Victoria (to name only a few). She is a highly sought after speaker on the subject of cultural rights, and the role of the arts in building social cohesion and harmony. Her work demonstrates a criticality that is much needed in a predominantly white arts sector, towards cultural equity. Aseel shows an unparalleled commitment to her craft. She eats, sleeps and breathes community arts and cultural development practice as a life force, not only for her, but for the vulnerable communities she engages and supports. Aseel has incredible stamina for transformation, is undaunted by barriers, and prolific in making the case for a more diverse arts sector.
Like toasted marshmallows over a campfire, singer-songwriter Emily Soon will warm your heart. Melbourne-born and raised, her music illuminates the universal human emotions from stories inspired by travel, newfound independence and profound changes in life. Emily’s soothing, velvety voice almost reminiscent of Tracy Chapman, Norah Jones or Bonnie Raitt will leave you serenaded and mesmerised. 2020 has seen Emily take on new heights with her soaring single ‘Love is The Loneliest Place’, followed by an alternate version featuring Invictus Quartet. Despite changing plans in unprecedented times – including the postponement of an ambitious performance with the quartet at Melbourne Recital Centre – she has embraced collaborating remotely on a mixture of projects. Captured in a humble home studio, her latest release showcases Whitney Houston’s iconic ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ in a personal and emotional new light.
Izzy Roberts-Orr is a poet, writer, broadcaster and arts worker raised on Arrernte Country (Alice Springs) and Wurundjeri Country (Footscray) currently completing a book of elegiac poetry, Raw Salt. Izzy works in Maribyrnong with local artists, is a Co-Director of Broadwave podcasting network, and advocates for artists on the Collingwood Yards Board and Moreland Arts Advisory Committee. Izzy is a 2020-2021 recipient of the Australia Council Marten Bequest Scholarship for Poetry.
Izzy’s work, Litany For The Women’s Liberation Switchboard: Call Me features in the journey, Silence Speaks.
Sista Zai Zanda is an Afrofuturistic Storyteller and Community Builder. She loves big ideas. Her latest project, “Sista Zai’s 5PM Storytime”, brings the joy, love and magic of storytime for her social media audience to indulge in a restorative break and reflective pause as we collectively re/imagine a #NewNormal where everyone thrives. You are welcome to join the private Facebook group. Amongst Sista Zai’s career highlights, she founded and curated the iconic Pan African Poets Cafe, toured Denmark delivering slam poetry workshops, worked as the Youth Zone Consultant for one of Africa’s top ten international arts festivals, received a Round Four Neilma Sydney Literary Travel Fund for a self-directed research tour in South Africa and co/hosted several events including a Creative State Summit, Melbourne Writers Festival Opening and Closing Night and Community Broadcasting Association Of Australia Annual Conference. You can find Sista Zai on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – just don’t spell her “Sister” because Sista Zai’s not a nun – yet.
Claire G. Coleman is a Noongar woman whose family have belonged to the south coast of Western Australia since long before history started being recorded. She writes fiction, essays and poetry while (mostly) traveling around the continent now called Australia in a ragged caravan towed by an ancient troopy (the car has earned “vintage” status).
Born in Perth, away from her ancestral country she has lived most of her life in Victoria and most of that in and around Melbourne.
During an extended circuit of the continent she wrote a novel, influenced by certain experiences gained on the road. She has since won a Black&Write! Indigenous Writing Fellowship for that novel ,”Terra Nullius”. Terra Nullius was published in Australia by Hachette Australia and in North America by Small Beer Press.
Quinn Eades is a writer, researcher, editor, gutter philosopher and poet, whose book Rallying was awarded the 2018 Mary Gilmore Award for best first book of poetry. He is the author of all the beginnings: a queer autobiography of the body, and is currently working on three books: a collaborative photographic/poetic text called QUEERDOM with photographer and partner Jamie James; is the body home—an autobiography of the trauma body; and a sole-authored essay collection, Gender is Burning. When he’s not working, Quinn is hanging with his kids, cuddling his pups, watching reruns of Star Trek Discovery, and writing/dreaming utopic decolonial transqueer futures.
Luka Lesson (born Luke Haralampou) is a spoken word poetry and music artist of Greek heritage from Australia. Luka’s debut book, “The Future Ancients” is now a best-seller for poetry in Australia and a part of educational programs from Hong Kong to Melbourne.
Luka has written commissions and performed for the likes of The National Gallery of Victoria, Greece’s pioneer Hip-hop group Active Member, South Africa’s OneBlood Festival and China’s most celebrated living poet Xi Chuan in Beijing. He is also the Australian Poetry Slam Champion of 2011 and Melbourne Poetry Slam Champion of 2010.
Alia Gabres is a Melbourne based spoken word artist who strives to tell the stories that are yet to be told. She looks for the magnificent in every reluctant voice, believing nothing is more beautiful than a sincere word. Alia is currently curating a poetry explorations series entitled ‘Tell It Like It Is’ at the Footscray Arts Centre. She is also a workshop facilitator for the Center of Poetics and Justice.
Betsy hails originally from the United States and since relocating to Brisbane, she has contributed her words, her heart and her passion to the city’s vibrant spoken word scene. Betsy featured at the 2010 Queensland Poetry Festival as a member of The Broken Records Collective “Just Like Me” and was co-author of the poetic play “She Stole My Every Rock and Roll”. With her fresh delivery style, Betsy was a finalist in the Nimbin Performance Poetry Cup. With a BA in English literature, she brings a considered measure to the slam performance genre and is committed to teaching diversity through performance poetry.
Geoff Lemon is co-editor of Going Down Swinging, one of Australia’s longest-running and most idiosyncratic literary/arts anthologies, and the only Australian publisher to also produce spoken word CDs and digital media editions. Before that he was poetry editor of harvest and Voiceworks magazines. Geoff founded Wordplay Collective in 2006, which runs spoken word performances in Australia, and maintains an archive of recordings at Wordplay.
A multiple and mostly retired slam winner, he has performed at shows and festivals across Australia and overseas, been broadcast numerous times on national radio, and supported music acts like TZU, Sietta, Joelistics, True Live, Paris Wells, and The Church’s Steve Kilbey. On the page his poems and stories are widely published in the likes of Best Australian Stories, HEAT, Griffith Review, and Island. His first book, Sunblind, was published in 2008.
He works as a freelance journalist, essayist, and editor, writing social and political commentary for outlets like The Punch and the ABC’s The Drum, as well as writing on music (MTV, RHUM), the arts (Beat), sport (The Roar), and literature (The Book Show). He also writes the controversial blog Heathen Scripture.
Jessica Alice hosts Spoken Word on 3CR 855AM community radio and is the Poetry Editor for Voiceworks magazine. She is currently writing her Honours thesis on the work of contemporary American poet Johanna Drucker. Jessica was Assistant Editor of Divan – Australia’s first online poetry journal – in 2007. She has performed her poetry for the Emerging Writers and Overload Poetry Festivals – making her debut at the Abottsford Convent in 2008 and winning The Spinning Room’s performers place in 2010. She has recently enjoyed recurring features at ‘Tell It Like It Is’ at the Footscray Community Arts Centre, and was commissioned to write a modern poetic interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood for the Cost of Horror collective’s exhibition ‘Kinderspiel’ at The Owl and the Pussycat. Jessica is a regular contributor of literary news and highbrow gossip on Triple R’s Aural Text, and performs her poems wherever there is a bar and not necessarily a mic.
Prior to commencing the Bachelor of Dramatic Arts at the VCA, Tariro Mavondo began a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Politics and Anthropology. During this time she was also working as an artist with international and nationally established bands at festivals such as the World Music Festival in Adelaide, Big Day out and the World Music Expo (Arts centre).
Tariro got a taste of the theatre when she performed as an actor and dancer in Claudia Escobar’s final VCA Animateuring piece Play: Ground (2008).
At the VCA Tariro’s major roles have been Nina in The Seagull 2009, Blair in Perfume, Underwear and Crash Helmet (2010) and Ariel in Shakespeare’s the Tempest (2011). Tariro has worked as an actor with the VCA Centre of Cultural Partnerships Horn of Africa program that toured a group devised piece to schools and community centres around Victoria in 2010.
Tariro is also a founding member and workshop facilitator of the Centre for Poetics and Justice. Tariro is also a founding member and project manager of Still Waters African Women’s Storytelling Collective.
Tariro was a state finalist at the 2009 Australian Poetry Slam.Tariro was the national runner up at the 2010 Australian Poetry Slam.
Bronwyn Lovell is an emerging poet and spoken word performer. Her poetry has been featured on RRR, SYN FM, 3CR Community Radio, and Melbourne Community Television Channel 31. She has had work published in Swamp, Antipodes, ZineWest, Positive Words Magazine, and Paradise Anthology. Bronwyn has a writing residency at Kinfolk Cafe as part of Australian Poetry’s national Cafe Poets Program and she is a workshop facilitator for the Centre for Poetics and Justice. She was the first Australian to compete in the Women of the World Poetry Tournament in Columbus, Ohio, in March 2011. Bronwyn has a Masters in Creative Writing, and a Bachelor in English and Film Studies from the University of Sydney. She is currently completing Honours in Cinema and Creative Writing at the University of Melbourne. Besides poetry and film, her interests include storytelling, comics and linguistics.
Critically acclaimed Cabaret star and spoken word artist Amy Bodossian is an eccentric and unforgettable performer who has been captivating audiences for over fifteen years with her unique blend of song, spoken word and comedy.
She’s appeared on ABC’s Spicks and Specks and Please Like Me, performed at major festivals across Australia and headlined most of Melbourne’s major poetry events. She’s been nominated for a prestigious Green Room Award, won the SA Young Women Writers’ Award, and came runner up in the 2016 Melbourne Spoken Word Prize.
Her one woman shows have received rave reviews- ****1/2 – The Advertiser ****1/2 – Glam Adelaide ****1/2 – Clothesline Mag ‘pure genius’ – The Scotsman ‘entrancing… utterly beautiful and heart wrenching.. – Stage Whispers. ‘There isn’t a pigeonhole in existence that could possibly hold Amy Bodossian. No warning, no apologies. ‘- FINGER MAGAZINE Amy has just released her much anticipated debut book, ‘Wide Open’, published by Outside The Box press
Joel McKerrow is a writer, speaker, educator, community arts worker and one of Australia’s most successful internationally touring performance poets. Based out of Melbourne, Australia he is the Artist Ambassador for the aid and development organisation ‘TEAR Australia’ and was the co-founder of community arts organisation, ‘The Centre for Poetics and Justice’ (2010-2013). Joel was the third ever Australian representative at the Individual World Poetry Slam Championships in the USA (2012) and has performed in venues like The Nuyorican Poets Cafe and Bowery Poetry Club (NYC), The Sydney Opera House, The Forum (Melbourne), The Metropolis (Montreal), Victoria Parliament House and many more. He is a TEDx speaker and performer and is also the frontman poet from the band, ‘Joel McKerrow & the Mysterious few’. Joel also spends much of his time running poetry workshops within schools and other organisations around poetry, creativity, identity, social justice and spirituality.
Joel has been touring extensively throughout Australia and the world (USA, UK, EUROPE, NEW ZEALAND) over the last few years on the Global Poetics tour (2011), the Please Resist Me tour (2012), the Soles of Australia tour (2012), the One Foot in the Clay global tour (2012-13) and the These Wandering Feet tour (2013). Throughout this time he has performed alongside such poetry greats as Anis Mojgani, Shane Koyczan, Sarah Kay, Phil Kaye, Ken Arkind, Buddy Wakefield, Mahogany Brown, Jive Poetic, Carrie Rudzinski and Luka Lesson.
With a passionate performance style he has been commended by Canadian performance poet Shane Koyczan as, ‘an exceptional spoken word artist…fiercely political and humane’. And by the Australian National Poetry Slam Champion, Luka Lesson, as, ‘a true leader in Australia’s performance poetry scene…A man who can tear a roof down with his performances and bring tears with his subtle eloquence’. Brian McLaren (Author and activist) has also said, ‘In a time when politics, theology, and other important avenues of human intercourse suffer from a flatness of prose and a vacuum of meaning, Joel walks on stage just when we need him, sounding off with all the craft of a first-rate poet and all the verve of a first-rate performer.’
Joel, in 2012, released his first published book Beyond Rhetoric – Writings in the Tradition of Kahlil Gibran (published by UNOH publishing with foreword by Fr. Richard Rohr) and his debut spoken word album One Foot in the Clay. In 2013 he released his second spoken word album and first straight book of poetry both named These Wandering Feet: Reflection from a travelling pilgrim (released through The Poatina Tree label).
Sean M Whelan is a writer from Northcote. He has published two books of poetry, Love is the New Hate and Tattooing the Surface of the Moon. He programs Babble, a long running spoken word event in Melbourne and is one of the co-coordinators of Liner Notes, a series of readings that are spoken word tributes to iconic albums. Sean also performs his poetry and stories with a band called The Interim Lovers. An album by the Interim Lovers called ‘Softly & Suddenly’ will be released in October 2010. In 2009 he toured North America and was one of the co-writers and performers of Elemental, a show combining Poetry and Science at the Melbourne Planetarium, which held a sold out season at the Melbourne International Arts Festival.
Steve Smart is no longer a young poet. He’s not sure what he is now and wonders whether there is a specific age that middle-aged begins, or whether it’s relative to your perspective. Do artists age at the same rate as other human creatures? Steve has had a colourful and quite fascinating journey into the belly of the performance poetry beast. He still hasn’t much scratched the surface of the publishing world yet, but he’s logged hundreds of hours on stages around Australia and various overseas ports. He considers himself to flexible in style and responsive to a variety of audiences. Steve performed at the Sydney Opera House. It was a long time ago but you’d keep it on your bio too. Currently he is Melbourne Poets Union President, one half of the duo The Bitter Disappointments, and one third of the group Temporary Adults. He runs/co-runs spoken word gigs in Carlton, Thornbury, Fitzroy and Footscray. www.stevesmartpoetry.com
Santo Cazzati is a spoken word artist. The son of Italian immigrants to Australia, he emerged from past lives as a classical concert pianist and avant garde jazz musician to teach at an elite Melbourne private school which must remain anonymous in order to protect those concerned. He performs in a range of styles, from fast rhythmical delivery to slow atmospheric meditation, often with a strong world music influence and critical ironic distance. His is a fixture on Melbourne’s grass roots poetry scene, a presenter of 3CR’s Spoken Word radio programme and appears on Going Down Swinging and Voiceprints CDs.
Randall $tephens is the last angry man, he was the first one too. He doesn’t suffer fools. He doesn’t ride a bike that doesn’t have brakes. He doesn’t get stuck in traffic. He doesn’t use phrase like ‘l-o-l” and doesn’t tell people about his new kettle on facebook. He does not believe in fairies (plop!). He doesn’t play nice with the other poets. Randall $tephens does write poetry, He writes about all dinosaurs and cycling and travelling and breasts and being angry and being happy and sex at inappropriate times. He performs. Well. He does come from Melbourne.
He is on his way.
Meaghan has been writing poetry since 2005. She has featured at the Spinning Room, The Court House Readings, Passionate Tongues, Saturdays at the Dan O’Connell and the Drunken Poet. She has also performed previously in the Overload Festival and has been recorded for the Channel 31 program ‘Red Lobster’. In 2008 Meaghan wrote and performed with Geoff Lemon, Anthony W.P. O’Sullivan, Ben Pobje and Steve Smart in ‘Under a Neon Globe’ in the Melbourne Fringe festival. Meaghan wrote reviews for RHUM during the 2010 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. She recently attended the Goolwa ‘Salt on the Tongue’ Writer’s Festival where she performed in the show case SLAM and ‘Plan Be’ with Randal Stephens and Steve Smart.
Maxine Clarke is a West Indian-Australian writer, slam poet and freelance journalist. She has written for many publications, including The Age, The Big Issue, Good Reading, Australian Art Collector and The Koori Mail. Maxine’s poetry examines the experiences of African descendants in the ‘new world’. She is the 2006 title holder of the NSW Writer’s Centre/Gleebooks Poetry Sprint, had placed second in the Doris Leadbetter Poetry Cup (2007) and the Northern Notes Poetry Slam (2007), and is a finalist in the Melbourne Writers Festival Poetry Slam (2008). Maxine’s poetry and short plays have been published, performed and broadcast nationally
Maurice McNamara has had several poems recently published in Blue Dog and Going Down Swinging. He’s been a regular contributor to the Moving Galleries’ haiku and short poems on Melbourne trains project. Casually lyrical, funny but serious, he aims for a down-to-earth, contemporary feel. He likes Melbourne’s dagginess, and believes the sort of crowds the Melbourne Cup draws, and the fact that AFL grew up here, make it a great city for literature. His book, Half Hour Country (Small Change Press 2009), has been described as ‘courageous, witty, wry, tough and alive – truly free verse’.
Luis Gonzalez Serrano is a Melbourne poet born in El Salvador who came to Australia in 1988 as a refugee. In 2003 he founded, along with two mates, Salt-lick Quarterly, a well regarded poetry journal. In 2005 he published a book, Cities with Moveable Parts (NSW Poets Union Publications). He has been involved in the Melbourne poetry scene since 2002, and directly or indirectly with the Melbourne Overload Poetry Festival, of which he was Artistic Director between 2011 and 2012.
Lish is a Melbourne poet and musician. She writes plays, short stories, comedy and songs for adults and children. She has been published in several countries around the world. Virtual and hard copy. Lish currently has two books Butterflies of New Dawn 1996 and Leather Skin 2002 and has performed at many venues including Parliament House. Lish loves family, friends, art, nature, fire twirling, exercising, singing, reading, thinking and sewing.
Josephine Rowe is the author of two short story collections and a novel, A Loving, Faithful Animal (UQP, 2016). Her writing has featured in The Monthly, Meanjin, Best Australian Stories, Best Australian Poems, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and elsewhere. She is a recipient of a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Fiction from Stanford University, and currently lives in Tasmania.
John has poems published in various anthologies including “Best Australian Poems” but enjoys live performance and can often be found propping up the bar at Dan Poets on a Saturday afternoon. He Studied law, has a background in supporting the underdog and writes in a variety of styles that can make folk laugh and cry almost simultaneously. His first poetry collection ” Hopscotch ” is scheduled for a reprint and he is currently working on a recording of his songs and a new book of poems.
James Jackson is the self-proclaimed “Monster of Poetry” and one of the most controversial Melbourne poets of recent years. A former professional wrestler, musician and actor, Jackson performs poetry wherever will still book him. These performances often contain confrontational elements which have divided his fellow poets and poetry audiences alike. You have been warned.
Emilie Zoey Baker is a multi award-winning poet and slam champion who, in 2009, toured workshops and performances throughout Canada, and in New York and Chicago. She is the spoken word editor for ‘Cordite’ and the Victorian coordinator for the National Australian Poetry Slam. She is the author of ‘She Wore The Sky On Her Shoulders’. Recently she performed in the sold out world premiere of ‘Elemental’, poetry at the Planetarium in the 2009 Melbourne International Arts Festival.
Bella Li is the author of Maps, Cargo (Vagabond Press, 2013), shortlisted for the Wesley Michel Wright Prize, and Argosy (Vagabond Press, 2017)—a book of poetry, collage and photography. Her work has been published in journals and anthologies including Meanjin, Cordite Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review and Best Australian Poems.
Anthony is a Melbourne-based poet, musician, performer and MC extraordinaire. He hosts the awesome Owl and Cat readings and has featured at various local and interstate events. Anthony wants to live in a city where the weather is decisive. Where each day assassinates the one before. We’re not sure what keeps him in this city.
Alicia Sometimes is a writer, poet and broadcaster. She is a regular guest on ABC 774 and Radio National. She is also part of the Aussie Rules Football podcast, The Outer Sanctum and has appeared in ABC TV’s Sunday Arts and ABC News Breakfast. She was a 2014 Fellow at the State Library of Victoria and was a writer and director of the science-poetry show, Elemental that has toured extensively. Alicia co-edited and written for From the Outer: Footy Like You’ve Never Heard It (2016) and A Footy Girl’s Guide To the Stars of 2017 (2017) with Nicole Hayes.
Anna Fern likes bicycling along the Yarra, lolling on the Oak Lawn, mushrooming in the Dandenongs, eating Vietnamese soup at Footscray Market, and performing at Melbourne venues such as Eltham Courthouse, La Mama Poetica, the Dan O’Connell Hotel and The Make It Up Club.
In 2008 she won the ‘What the Hell Was That?’ Award at the Overload Poetry Festival. Her work has appeared in Unusual Work, on Melbourne trains as part of Moving Galleries, and on recordings such as the Voiceprints anthology of sound poetry.
Ezra won the final of The Age, Melbourne Writers’ Festival Poetry Idol. His first book of poetry, “Dancing in the Lifeboat” was launched in 2009 at the Australian Poetry Centre. He has featured at the Melbourne Writers Festival, The Wheeler Centre and in the
ABC TV series, Bush Slam. The Melbourne City Council commissioned him to write a poem commemorating Melbourne Day and the 175th anniversary of settlement. He is also currently writing a series of poems inspired by the city.
Eleanor Jackson is a poet. When she is in Australia she can get fixated with things homely and humble; she often writes about the quiet things. Eleanor is responsible for bringing together the amazing poets of the Melbourne Poetry Map, in no small part so that when she is surrounded by palm trees and betel nut, she can remember poky laneways, good coffee and the dead smoking unicorns of Hosier Lane.