… and poetry

is that which cannot otherwise

be said


Josh Mei-Ling Dubrau

Sydney is buzzing with poetry and poets living and working in New South Wales. The New South Wales Writers’ Centre serves as a hub for mentoring programs, writing courses and fellowship programs. It also offers manuscript assessment, tutoring, business consultations whilst supporting NSW based writers festivals and programs.

The NSW Writers’ Centre presents festivals, workshops, course and mentoring resources for writers throughout the year. Each is a celebration of writing that brings together emerging and established writers for an inspirational day of panels, discussions, workshops, readings, book signings and networking. Past festivals for 2015 and 2016 include: Creative Non-Fiction Festival, Emerging Writers Festival Roadshow, Aboriginal Writers Festival and Speculative Fiction Festival, Playwriting Festival, and the Kids and Young Adult Festival. The NSW Writers’ Centre also holds The Blake Poetry Prize, worth $5000.

The Newcastle Poetry Prize is funded by the University of Newcastle and is now in its 36th year. First prize is $15,000, second prize $5000. The 2016 prizes were awarded on 22 October 2016 in Newcastle at the Watt Space Gallery. Each year an anthology is published of the winning poems.There was a 30-year compilation anthology of all winning poems since 1981 published in 2011. More info here.

Sydney Writers’ Festival presents over 300 events annually, attracting audiences of 100,000, stretching from the Walsh Bay in the heritage wharves on Sydney Harbour to suburban Sydney and the Blue Mountains. Sydney Writers’ Festival launched the Children’s Festival of Moving Stories in 2015. In 2017, it will return from May 22-28.

Sydney is home to the online collaborative project and print magazine Seizure, which supports emerging poets working both in digital and print mediums. Seizure also works with groups & publications such as AltTxt, Xoum Publishing, Edition, Flashers, and SWEATSHOP: Western Sydney Literacy Movement.

subbed in is a DIY literary organisation, which programs readings, workshops and associated publications. They aim to provide grassroots support for new and underrepresented voices as well as helping emerging writers to achieve publication or performance. subbed in is now accepting manuscript submissions for a new project involving the publication of three chapbooks by NSW-based writers in 2017. They are also looking for readers to perform at events and writers to conduct workshops. Check out their website for more information: http://subbed.in

Poets work across a variety of forms in Sydney, and there are numerous regular events to attend:

  • Poetry nights are held on the second Tuesday of every month, at Sappho Books Cafe and Wine Bar (located at 51 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe). These readings have become known for their welcoming atmosphere and line-up of well known poets including Les Murray, David Malouf, Judith Beveridge, Peter Rose and Sarah Holland-Batt.
  • The Friend in Hand Pub (located 58 Cowper St, Glebe) holds a poetry night called Word in Hand, on the first Tuesday of every month.
  • The annual Australian Slam Poetry Competition holds its final heat at the Sydney Opera House each year.
  • The Art Gallery of NSW hosts a poetry reading on the fourth Sunday of the month at 2pm (except January and December).

In addition to the events above, Sydney Poetry is a social page for poets in Sydney and has current event listings, as well as competitions and opportunities.

Outside of Sydney, New South Wales is home to The Dunedoo Bush Poetry Festival, three days of bush poetry competitions, street theatre, puppetry, music, market stalls and comedy entertainment.

Illawarra Breakfast Poets meet every Wednesday morning at 7am in the little Hall at Coniston, Woollongong. They write a poem every week and compete for the highly prized ‘DPA’ or Distinguished Poets Award. Together for almost 7 years, they continue to address their weekly topic from many angles.

Dangerously Poetic is a poetry press run specifically for poets in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. They also run regular events and readings such as a monthly writing circle, held at Brunswick Heads Community Centre on the second Wednesday of each month.

Australian Bush Poetry Association runs many events, competitions and collaborations with communities, focusing mainly on bush verse poetry in NSW, WA, QLD and VIC. Due to this vastly spread out community of poets, this group convenes mostly through their online forum.

Wyong Writers are a group on the Central Coast region of New South Wales, approximately 63km from Newcastle and 89 km from Sydney. Wyong has a vibrant writers community, and Wyong Writers hold regular meetings and workshops and promote the publication of local poets.

The city of Newcastle is also a growing hub for showcasing new and thrilling writers and writing, working across a variety of disciplines. The National Young Writers Festival operates annually, alongside the Newcastle Writers Festival. There are many ways that people can be involved at both festivals, through artist participation as a writer in the chosen medium, or as a budding artist interested in employment opportunities or volunteering.

Also in New South Wales is the Booranga Writers Centre, which operates out of the Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga. The Booranga Writers’ Centre was established with the aim of serving and promoting the interests of local writers. The group has been active in the Wagga region and surrounds for the past twenty-six years. They organise residencies, publish an annual anthology called fourW and facilitate writers passing through the region with venues and support for book-launches and readings.

If you believe we’ve missed something important in your state, feel free to let us know at communications@australianpoetry.org.