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Jumaana Abdu is a Sydney-raised writer of Egyptian-Palestinian heritage. She is entering her final year in a Doctor of Medicine at UNSW, and moonlights as a novelist with an interest in spirituality, gothic romanticism, and the reductiveness of having to define one’s identity or translate one’s inner realm. Her work has been published in Overland Journal and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Jose da Costa was born in Timor-Leste where he was a youth clandestine activist. Arriving by boat as a refugee, he campaigned extensively, especially throughout regional Victoria, for East Timorese independence. He has worked professionally as an actor and filmmaker in Timor-Leste and Australia and published children’s books in the Tetum language. da Costa was co-founder and former director of Dili Film Works which made Timor Leste’s first feature film, A Guerra da Beatriz (Beatriz’s War). He has acted in the films A Guerra da Beatriz, Balibo Five and Sumatra, and the two-part miniseries, Answered by Fire. His stage acting credits include Greater Sunrise at the Belvoir Theatre in Sydney and Hello My name Is at OzAsia Festival in Adelaide. He co-produced the animation based on his life, Jose’s Story with Wendy Chandler. He has been a storyteller at the Darwin Festival’s SPUN and at the Northern Territory Writers’ Festival.

Josie/Jocelyn Suzanne is a programmer/freelance editor/translator. Their work has appeared in Rabbit Journal, Overland, The Suburban Review and Going Down Swinging, among others. They were one of the recipients of the Queensland Poetry Festival Ekphrasis award for 2020, as well as the Ultimo Poetry Prize and the Harri Jones memorial prize in 2021. They are a genderqueer femme. They live on unceded Wurundjeri land in Naarm.

Monikka Eliah is an Assyrian-Australian writer from Fairfield. She has participated in National Theatre of Parramatta’s Page to Stage program, CuriousWorks Breakthrough Screen Writing Program and STC’s Rough Draft. Her work has been published in Roots Anthology, SBS Voices, Runway Journal, Southerly, Kill Your Darlings, The Lifted Brow and The Saturday Paper. She received the Southlands Breakthrough Award 2018, the Wheeler Centre Playwright Hot Desk Fellowship 2020 and an Australia Council Resilience Grant in 2020. She has presented work at the NSW Writers Centre, Studio Stories, Wollongong Writers Festival, Sydney Writers Festival, NYW Festival, National Play Festival, WITS Festival Fatale and Sydney Festival. Monikka is currently a member of STC’s Emerging Writers Group.

Tristen Harwood is an Indigenous writer, critic, editor and researcher. The eldest of seven children, he was raised in Perth’s outer suburbs by a single mother on welfare. After relocating to Narrm/Melbourne he completed an Arts degree and has since worked as independent critic and essayist in Narrm and New York. He’s writing on art, film, fashion and literature is published in The Saturday Paper, The New York Times Magazine, The Monthly, Art + Australia, and Artlink, amongst others, and has recently been translated into Spansh.

Alongside writing, Tristen has worked in Indigenous student support, arts education, research, editing, and mentoring roles. He is a volunteer board member at  independent arts publisher Un Projects.

Brooke Maddison is a writer and editor working on unceded Turrbal and Yuggera land. She is currently completing a Master of Writing, Editing and Publishing at the University of Queensland and is the co-editor of Crackle, the university’s anthology of creative writing. Her work has been published by Kill Your Darlings, Antithesis and Spineless Wonders, among others. She is a Curtis Brown Creative HW Fisher scholar and a recipient of the Neilma Sidney Literary Travel Fund.

Brooke likes exploring themes of memory, language and narrative, and lives in Meanjin (Brisbane) with her strong-willed and hilarious nine-year-old son.

Luke Patterson is a Gamilaroi poet, folklorist and musician living on Gadigal lands. Grounded in extensive work with Aboriginal and other community-based organisations across Australia, Luke’s creative pursuits focus on the ways bioregional identities and consciousness are expressed through localised and vernacular forms. He is particularly interested in exploring how notions of ‘on/off Country’ can be articulated across multi-modal poetics involving (computer) screen, stage and page. Luke is currently a Juncture fellow with The Sydney Review of Books and  member of the 2022 Emerging Writers Festival advisory board. Check out his poetry in journals like Cordite, Plumwood Mountain, Rabbit and Running Dog.

Micaela Sahhar is an Australian-Palestinian writer and educator. Her current scholarly and creative projects relate to narrative appropriation and the recuperation of narrative in settler-colonial contexts.

Her poetry and essays have appeared in The Age, Southerly, Overland, the Conversation, New Matilda and Arena Magazine, and she was shortlisted for the Blake Poetry Prize in 2014. She was commissioned to contribute to Forensic Architecture’s Cloud Studies exhibition at UTS gallery in 2020. She was a guest co-editor of Rabbit 34 in 2021 with Kent MacCarter.

She holds a doctorate from the University of Melbourne. Her scholarly articles have appeared in journals and edited book collections, most recently an article in the Journal of Intercultural Studies and a co-authored chapter in Unsettled Voices: Beyond Free Speech in the Late Liberal Era, edited by Tanja Dreher, Michael R. Griffiths and Timothy Laurie.

Mykaela Saunders is a Koori and Lebanese writer, teacher, community researcher and the editor of This All Come Back Now, the world’s first anthology of blackfella speculative fiction, forthcoming with UQP in 2022. Mykaela has won the Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize, the National Indigenous Story Award, the Oodgeroo Noonuccal Indigenous Poetry Prize, the Grace Marion Wilson Emerging Writers Prize for Nonfiction and the University of Sydney’s Sister Alison Bush Graduate Medal for Indigenous research. Of Dharug descent, and working-class and queer, Mykaela belongs to the Tweed Goori community.

Anne-Marie Te Whiu is a poet, cultural producer, weaver and Senior Project Manager at Red Room Poetry. From 2015–2017 she co-directed the Queensland Poetry Festival. Her work has been published in journals, anthologies and exhibitions across Australia and Aotearoa. She co-edited Solid Air, Australia and New Zealand Spoken Word and edited Tony Birch’s poetry collection Whisper Songs. She has been the recipient of several residencies and is currently undertaking the Unyoked Writers Residency. She is a proud Te Rarawa descendant of Te Hokianga-Nui-A-Kupe.

Highly commended

In addition to the ten successful recipients, the Judges identified four highly commended entries to The Next Chapter.

Jessica Knight

Jessica Knight is a writer and conflicted heathen based in Naarm. She is currently working on a memoir novel about her childhood growing up Mormon and chronically ill on a dairy farm. You can read more of her work at or follow her on Twitter (@TheMess19) or Instagram (@tinywhirlwind_82).

May Ngo 

I’m a writer, former academic and dumpling lover. I have been published in the Mascara Literary Review, The Lifted Brow, Sydney Review of Books and Kill Your Darlings. I received the Kill Your Darlings New Critics Award 2021 and the Sydney Review of Books 2021 Juncture Fellowship. I have also written an audio drama series for the German podcast platform Podimo. I’m currently working on a crime fiction novel, as well as some short stories.

Guan Un

Guan Un is an Australian writer of Malaysian-Chinese heritage. He loves sentences, dumplings and sentences about dumplings. He lives in Sydney’s inner-west, with wife, two children, and a dog named after a tiger.  Before writing, he got a theology degree, worked as a luggage salesman, and when he’s not behind a keyboard writing, he’s behind a keyboard as a software developer.

Guan has stories forthcoming from khōréō, Translunar Travelers Lounge, and is currently working on an inter-generational monster hunting novel, based in a Sydney touched by the mythos of immigrants. He writes at, and has an occasional newsletter about sentences at

Belinda Zipper

Belinda Zipper is a transgender woman living with a chronic disease.

As a child of the 1970s, gender transition was effectively inconceivable. After a couple failed attempts at cross-dressing (back then the language allowed for either that or ‘transvestite’), Belinda settled for a life of career, travel, family and friends – albeit as a male.

In 2014, at the age of 44, she experienced a symptom of what would soon be diagnosed as Parkinson’s disease. Two weeks after that first symptom she had a dream that she was living as a woman. Belinda started her journey as a trans woman, and saw the dream as the voice of her subconscious self waking her up to the urgency of reclaiming her body before she loses it to a pernicious degenerative disease.

She now lives with more purpose, love and gratitude than ever – buoyed by the euphoria of living as her authentic self, but also grounded by the sobering urgency that comes with a progressively debilitating disease.

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