Poets have been shaping societies for generations. Sometimes painfully, other times joyously reflecting back the worlds they live in and helping us make sense of who we are. In this podcast episode, hear from some of the finest working poets in Australia right now who are defining our place in the world, deepening our understanding of our relationships, setting the agenda and envisioning our future. From a moving tribute to Kate Jennings to a tongue-in-cheek guided ASMR meditation about the end of the world, listen to Eileen Chong (A Thousand Crimson Blooms), Maxine Beneba Clarke (Carrying the World), Ellen van Neerven (Throat), Erik Jensen (I said the sea was folded), Felicity Plunkett (A Kinder Sea), Omar Sakr (The Lost Arabs) and Alison Whittaker (Blakwork) as they read their work, with writer and critic Declan Fry. 

Please note, this episode contains references to topics such as sexual assault and slavery.

This podcast was recorded live at the 2021 Sydney Writers' Festival and is available on all major podcast platforms. 

Ellen van Neerven (Australian)

Ellen van Neerven

Ellen van Neerven belongs to the Mununjali Yugambeh people of South East Queensland. Ellen is an award-winning writer, editor and literary activist. They have authored three books including a new poetry collection Throat, which explores different ways to be heard, and edited the anthology Flock: First Nations Stories Then and Now.

Maxine Beneba Clarke (Australian)

Maxine Beneba Clarke

Maxine Beneba Clarke is the author of over ten books for children and adults, including the critically acclaimed childhood memoir The Hate Race, the ABIA award-winning short fiction collection Foreign Soil, the Victorian Premier's Award winning poetry collection Carrying the World, the Boston Globe/Horn Prize and CBCA award-winning picture book The Patchwork Bike and her newly released picture book When We Say Black Lives Matter. In 2019, she was the inaugural Poet Laureate for The Saturday Paper.

Alison Whittaker (Australian)

Alison Whittaker

Alison Whittaker is a Gomeroi poet, essayist and legal scholar. She is a Research Fellow at the Jumbunna Institute. In 2017–18, Alison was a Fulbright scholar at Harvard Law School where she was named Dean’s Scholar in Race, Gender and Criminal Law. Her second book Blakwork was shortlisted for the 2019 Prime Minister's Literary Award. Her most recent book, Fire Front, is an anthology of, and about, First Nations published poetry.

Erik Jensen (Australian)

Erik Jensen

Erik Jensen is the award-winning author of Acute Misfortune, which was developed into a film; On Kate Jennings; and the Quarterly Essay, The Prosperity Gospel. He is Founding Editor of The Saturday Paper and Editor-in-Chief of Schwartz Media. His latest book is the debut collection of poems I said the sea was folded: Love poems.

Eileen Chong (Australian)

Eileen Chong

Eileen Chong is an Australian poet of Chinese descent. She was born and raised in Singapore, and came to Australia as an adult migrant. She started writing poetry in 2010, and is the author of eight books published in Australia and the United States. Her work has been shortlisted for numerous prizes, such as the Anne Elder Award, the Australian Arts in Asia Award, the NSW Premier’s Literary Award, the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, and twice for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award. Her first book, Burning Rice, is the first single-author collection of poetry by an Asian-Australian to be studied as part of the NSW HSC English syllabus. She lives and works on unceded Gadigal land of the Eora Nation.

Felicity Plunkett (Australian)

Felicity Plunkett

Felicity Plunkett is a poet and critic. Her new collection is A Kinder Sea. Her debut collection Vanishing Point won the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Prize and was short-listed for several awards. She has a Vagabond Press Rare Objects chapbook Seastrands. Felicity was Poetry Editor for University of Queensland Press and edited Thirty Australian Poets (UQP, 2011). She has a PhD from Sydney University and is a widely published reviewer. She is Australian Book Review’s Patrons’ Fellow.

Omar Sakr (Australian)

Omar Sakr

Omar Sakr is the author of two books, including The Lost Arabs (UQP, 2019), which won the 2020 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry. His essays have been anthologised in Fire Flood Plague (Penguin Random House, 2020), Meet Me at the Intersection (Fremantle Press, 2018) and Going Postal: More Than Yes or No (Brow Books, 2018). His short fiction has appeared in Kindred: 12 Queer LoveOzYA Stories (Walker Books, 2019) as well as After Australia (Affirm Press, 2020).

Declan Fry (Australian)

Declan Fry

Declan Fry is a writer, poet, essayist, and proud descendant of the Yorta Yorta. Born on Wongatha country in Kalgoorlie, in 2020 he was engaged as a critic for The Age/Sydney Morning Herald, awarded the 2021 Peter Blazey Fellowship, and the Lord Mayor's Creative Writing Award for memoir. His work has appeared in MeanjinThe Saturday PaperLiminalOverland, and elsewhere.