Rita Dove once said that ‘poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.’
This August, we’re all about powerful poetry. In honour of Red Room Poetry’s inaugural Poetry Month, we’re celebrating with a showcase highlighting some of Australia’s – and the world’s – finest wordsmiths. We’ll also be sharing newly commissioned works, including the creative fruits of Fair Trade, an international First Nations poetic exchange between international and Australian First Nations poets. The event will also see the debut of a new poem by 2021 Poetry Ambassador and Australian of the Year, Grace Tame.
Discover new work from emerging and established poets including Tony Birch and Simon Ortiz, Evelyn Araluen, Maxine Beneba Clarke, PiO, Walter Kadiki, Thuy On, Vidya Rajan, Grace Tame, and David Stavanger. Hosted by Izzy Roberts-Orr.
This event will be Auslan interpreted.
Please note: Simon Ortiz, PiO and Grace Tame will appear via video.
The bookseller for this event is Hares & Hyenas.
Presented in partnership with Red Room Poetry
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, venue capacity is unfortunately limited. We will not be able to accommodate walk-ups or a waitlist as may have been the case in the past. Read more about our live events plan here Check wheelercentre.com, follow us on social media or sign up to our e-newsletter The Wheeler Weekly for updates and any late ticket releases.
Tony Birch is a founding member of the Melbourne School of Discontent. He has published three novels; The White Girl, Ghost River and Blood. He is also the author of Shadowboxing and three short story collections, Father’s Day, The Promise and Common People. In 2017 he was awarded the Patrick White Literary Award for his contribution to Australian literature. In 2021 he released two new books, a poetry book, Whisper Songs and a new short story collection, Dark As Last Night.
Evelyn Araluen is a poet, researcher and co-editor of Overland literary journal. Her widely published criticism, fiction and poetry have been awarded the Nakata Brophy Prize for Young Indigenous Writers, the Judith Wright Poetry Prize, a Wheeler Centre Next Chapter Fellowship, and a Neilma Sidney Literary Travel Fund grant. Born and raised on Dharug Country, she is a descendant of the Bundjalung Nation.
A leading figure in the Native American literary renaissance that emerged in the 1960s, Simon Ortiz has published many books of poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction.
In general, his writing is concerned with modern man’s alienation from others, from himself, and from his environment—urging humanity to reconnect the wisdom of ancestral spirits and with Mother Earth. His poetry collections include Going for the Rain (1976), A Good Journey (1977), From Sand Creek (1982), Woven Stone (1992), After and Before the Lightning (1994), and Out There Somewhere (2002).
π.O. is a legendary figure in the Australian poetry scene, born and bred in Fitzroy, the great chronicler of Melbourne and its culture and migrations, a highly disciplined anarchist who worked as a draughtsman for forty years to support his art.
He is currently editor of the experimental magazine Unusual Work. He is a pioneer of performance poetry in Australia and the author of many collections, including Panash, Fitzroy Poems, Big Numbers: New and Selected Poems, and the two epic works 24 Hours and Fitzroy: The Biography. His book Heide with Giramondo won the Judith Wright Calanthe Award in 2020, and was shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Award for Poetry in the same year.
Walter Kadiki is a master of weaving signed poetry and visual vernacular into poetic performance. He is known for his profound and engaging signed poetry and storytelling that bridges cultures and is accessible to deaf and hearing audiences.
He has delivered workshops for young people across Australia in Deaf Slam Poetry, has worked with community groups to create the poems such as Butterfly Hands, which was performed at Federation Square in Melbourne, and in Geelong. Kadiki has performed his signed poetry at the Melbourne Fringe Festival , Melbourne 2005 Deaflympics - Celebration of a possibility projection, Canberra Parliament and various events across Australia.
Thuy On’s debut collection of poetry, Turbulence, was published by UWAP in 2020. Her poetry has appeared in a range of online and print publications including: Cordite, Eureka Street, Mascara Literary Review, Australian Poetry Journal, Gargouille, Djed Press, Antithesis, Lor Journal, Folk magazine, Diacritics, Multicultural Arts Victoria, The Moth magazine and Writers Victoria newsletters.
After being groomed and sexually assaulted by her maths teacher when she was just 15 years old, Grace Tame has spent the last 10 years turning her traumatic experience into being an advocate for survivors of child sexual assault and a leader of positive change.
Recognising the injustice of Tasmania’s gag order that prevented survivors from self-identifying publicly, Grace spent several months campaigning with #LetHerSpeak campaign. In 2019, she finally won the court order to speak out under her own name.
Grace is the 2021 Australian of the Year.
David Stavanger is an Australian poet, performer, cultural producer, editor and lapsed psychologist. His first full-length poetry collection The Special (UQP) was awarded the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize and the Wesley Michel Wright Poetry Prize. David is the co-editor of SOLID AIR: Collected Australian & New Zealand Spoken Word (UQP) and his latest collection Case Notes (UWAP) won the 2021 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Poetry.
These days he lives between the stage and the page.
Maxine Beneba Clarke is the ABIA and Indie award winning author of over nine books for adults and children, including the critically acclaimed short fiction collection Foreign Soil, the bestselling memoir The Hate Race, the Victorian Premier’s Award winning poetry collection Carrying the World, and the Boston Globe/Horn Prize winning picture book The Patchwork Bike, illustrated by Van T. Rudd.
Vidya Rajan is a cross-disciplinary artist. She has been a recipient of the Wheeler Centre's Hot Desk Fellowship, Melbourne Festival's Director's Lab Program, Screen Australia's Developing the Developer Initiative and Film Victoria’s Plot Twist Games Writing workshop.
She has recently worked as a writer and performer with ABC Comedy, SBS, Theatreworks, Artshouse, Audible, Griffin Theatre and The Blue Room. Her work has also appeared in APJ, McSweeney's, Liminal, Cordite and Running Dog amongst others. She is a former writer-in-residence at the Malthouse Theatre, and is currently under commission on a number of screen, stage, and digital/multi-artform projects.
Ren Alessandra is in her age of expansion. As the 2020 Australian Poetry Slam Champion, she holds her endeavour close. Poet and educator based in Melbourne, Ren runs her own venture, Wordcraft, blending her vocations to help writers overcome their blocks and develop their craft.
Hosting a monthly spoken word event, workshops and many creations to come, Wordcraft is growing, as is her work. Blueprint Body, her first collection, has been born in a chapbook selection. The taster of the bigger collection explores Ren’s lived experience of body shame through a rebuilding of the self. Her work explores femininity, identity and love in all its colours.
Izzy Roberts-Orr is a poet, writer, broadcaster and arts worker based on Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung land, and Digital Producer at Red Room Poetry.
Formerly Artistic Director and Co-CEO of the Emerging and Digital Writers’ Festivals, and a Co-Director of the National Young Writers’ Festival, Izzy has most recently been working with local artists in the Western suburbs of Narrm Melbourne as Maribyrnong’s Arts Engagement Officer, advocating for artists on the Collingwood Yards Board and Moreland Arts Advisory Committee and as a Co-Director of Broadwave podcasting network.
Izzy is a 2020-2021 recipient of the Australia Council Marten Bequest Scholarship for Poetry, and is currently completing a book of elegiac poetry, Raw Salt.