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Poetry Month Gala


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, follow us on social media or sign up to our e-newsletter The Wheeler Weekly for updates and any late ticket releases.


Tony Birch

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 Pa... Read more

Evelyn Araluen

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 Li... Read more

Simon Ortiz

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 hu... Read more


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 ... Read more

Walter Kadiki

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 Austra... Read more

Thuy On

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... Read more

Grace Tame

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... Read more

David Stavanger

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 ... Read more

Maxine Beneba Clarke

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... Read more

Vidya Rajan

Vidya Rajan is an award-winning writer for screen and stage, performance-maker and comedian. She has a Masters in Writing (VCA) and has been a recipient of the Wheeler Centre’s Hot Desk Fellowship, Melbourne Festival’s Director’s Lab Program and Screen Australia’s Developing ... Read more

Ren Alessandra

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 sp... Read more

Izzy Roberts-Orr

Izzy Roberts-Orr is a poet, writer, broadcaster and arts worker based on Taungurung Country, and Digital Producer at Red Room Poetry. 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. ... Read more


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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we live and work. We pay our respects to the people of the Kulin Nation and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present.