Submissions: open 8 October 2020. They close at 11:59pm 14 December. Publication is planned by First Nations Australia Writers Network FNAWN for March 2021.


This publication is published by FNAWN, in association with Australian Poetry, via the generous support of Australia Council for the Arts FNAWN funding. AP is also being generously funded by Creative Victoria via a Stage 2 grant, just announced, for an audio part of this project, which will commence in January 2020.

A Note from the FNAWN Publisher, Yvette Holt:


Looking back on 2020 – the fire, the floods, the droughts. Three equally devastating elements of nature forging an even deeper sense of the Australian national coat of arms for matehood. Rolling up our sleeves and pulling through this trifecta together.

2020 the year just like so many years before had expectations of being another 365 days like no other. A dream year starting with January and back to school, the promise of a New Year for which one’s diary was going to be a tell-all best seller to thyself by October November, just in time for a festive closure in December. 2020 was the year in which you hand-held the opportunity to get much, much more published, with an audience anticipated attendance at literary events and writers’ festivals. You uploaded upcoming events on your social-media, you were scaffolding your calendar dates to be wooed and thrilled with an ocean of emerging and established authors. We were all going to lose a few typos. Gain a few publications. Spend more time with family. Aim for that workplace promotion. Socialise beyond your usual protective coat of armour, jog the circumference of the Australian coast backwards, cycle the Stuart Highway from Adelaide to Darwin atop a Penny Farthing, perform your poetic deliverance at writers’ festivals, bookshop readings, literary events, backyard barbecues, turn up to the opening of an oyster for your BFFs first reading at an undisclosed lighthouse somewhere between Byron and Barrenjoey etcetera, etcetera. You get the picture, I’m sure? In a brief, very brief shell 2020 was to be a phenomenal year of external motivation coming your way in formidable abundance.  February soon followed and the Australian summer was winding its way down at a snail’s pace with the promising scent of literary festivals hanging in the air neighbouring jasmines and sweet-mock orange, here there and everywhere. 

What soon followed from the middle of March was unthinkable, incomprehensible, unbelievable – with the most unfathomable human twist yet to come LOCKDOWN!

The First Nations Australia Writers Network are calling for your unpublished poem to sit within the poetic memory of the year that was. As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians there is much, much more to lift beneath the surface of COVID; therein captures our living realities prior to the pandemic, throughout the pandemic, and post-pandemic. Give us your unpublished poem on the year that was a ‘global lockdown’ and what it meant for you, your family, your community. We want it all. The FNAWN publication of the “FN COVID_19 Anthology” volume will be unlike any First Nations collected anthology of poetry that has ever been published and hopefully given the surrounding theme of the volume, is like an anthology that will never be necessitated by a global pandemic event in the future.

As the sun near sets on 2020 we want to arch this once in a lifetime pandemic Anthology for all lovers of poetry to consume, absorb, and relate to from a piercingly First Nations Australian eventful poetic discourse time and time again.

The loss of lives. The heroes. The loss of livelihoods. The elderly. The curfew. The #BLM. The Border Closures. The BS. The case numbers. The daily briefs. The limit of gatherings. The isolation. The Left. The Right. The conspiracy theorists. The Government. The body-count. The resilience. The pride. The sense of community. The faith. The strength. The world around us as we know it grinded to an earth-shattering halt. Still, I am waiting to be awoken from this dream?

With not one but two astounding acclaimed award-winning First Nation poets to co-edit your masterpieces for this Journal, I do not at all envy their positions in choosing the final selections. As Publisher of the FN COVID_19 Anthology, I honour the roles of Samuel Wagan Watson and Charmain Papertalk Green, with a deep reverence of respect and admiration. As Chairperson of FNAWN, I proudly announce this Call-Out alongside fellow FNAWN Board Directors – Samantha Faulkner (Treasurer), Chella Goldwin (Secretary), Dr Jeanine Leane, Ali Cobby Eckermann, Rachel Bin Salleh, and John Harding–we welcome your contributions and pay our respects to the lands from which your ancestors herald from. FNAWN honours and respects the lands of the Bunurong Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung peoples of the Kulin Nation – their Elders past, present and emerging where the FN COVID_19 Anthology will be published.

In Unity & Strength,

Yvette Holt,

Chairperson FNAWN


Submissions: open 8 October 2020. They close 11:59pm 14 December.

Email your submission to:


FNAWN Guidelines and how to submit

  • Open to all First Nations Australians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who identify and are accepted as such in their respective communities.
  • Members of the First Nations Australia Writers Network FNAWN are encouraged to submit.
  • Inter-related theme for this Journal is COVID-19 – blackfella humour, mob cook-ups, shopping aisle fiascos, social-distancing, lockdown mayhem, lockdown uplifts, exercising, walking the cat, purring the dog, losing your mind, working from home, gaining contemplation.
  • No more than forty lines per poem only.
  • Please send, in one email, up to three poems.
  • Only three poems will be considered so please do not submit more.
  • Only one poem per poet can be selected, but this does not exclude the selection of a cycle of poems.
  • Each poem should be sent as a word document as well as a PDF. The PDF is used for typesetting purposes.
  • Please note that submissions sent outside of our submission dates will not be able to be read or considered.
  • Please also send a bio of up to 50 words and your contact (phone, postal address, email) details.
  • The submission email is:
  • Please note that 2021 payment for a selected published poem will be $100 per poem, plus all contributors will receive a print and digital copy of the Anthology. Contracts will be sent by FNAWN when poems’ selection is finished, in 2021. In addition, contributors will also receive a one-year digital subscription to Australian Poetry, with all subscriber benefits included. Poets will also have the choice to record their poems, if desired, and FNAWN will send separate invitations and contracts for this after selections are known. There will be an extra $100 payment for each poet’s recording.
  • All poets who are accepted within the guideline submission dates will be contacted in late January or February with acceptance notices. Please note that due to the high volume of submissions we anticipate on receiving for this volume FNAWN will not be able to send out rejection notices.

Image Courtesy Yamaji Arts Centre Geraldton.

Charmaine Papertalk Green was born at Eradu (between Geraldton and Mullewa) on and is a member of the Wajarri, Badimaya and Nhanagardi Wilunyu cultural groups of Yamaji Nation in Mid-West Western Australia. Green is a visual artist, poet, and writer she began writing poetry in Mullewa in the late 1970’s. Charmaine was instrumental in the incubation of the nationally and internationally touring exhibition “Ilgarijiri – Things belonging to the Sky” arts and cultural project a Yamaji Art collaboration with the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy Curtin University, Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project Australian Government and City of Greater Geraldton. Her publications include Just Like That (Fremantle Art Press, 2007); Tiptoeing Tod the Tracker (Oxford University Press, 2014); collaboration with WA poet John Kinsella, False Claim of Colonial Thieves (Magabala Books, 2018); Nganajungu Yagu (Cordite Publishing Inc.’s, 2019); and numerous anthologies and other publications. In 2020 Charmaine won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2020 poetry category, twice shortlisted for the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal (2019, 2020) winning the ALS Gold Medal 2020 for her beautiful poetry collection Nganajungu Yagu. This collection was written as a response to letters her mother sent her after she left home, and explores connection to culture and language, as well as intergenerational trauma. Charmaine lives in Geraldton Western Australia.

Image Courtesy Helen Kassila.

Brisbane-born multi-acclaimed award-winning poet and raconteur, Samuel Wagan Watson is of Munanjali, Birri Gubba, German and Irish heritage, Samuel descends from a family of accomplished artists and writers. His first collection of poems won the 1998 David Unaipon Award, Of Muse, Meandering and Midnight (UQP,1999). Second collection Itinerant Blues (UQP, 2002), Hotel Bone (Vagabond Press, 2001), Smoke Encrypted Whispers (UQP, 2004), won the 2005 NSW Premier’s Award for the Book of the Year and the Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize. Further collections of Samuel’s eclectic poetry include; Three legged dogs: and other poems (Picaro Press, 2005), The curse words (Vagabond Press, 2011), Love poems and death threats: a collection of poetry (UQP, 2014). A much-favoured son of Australian poetry speaker and reader Samuel has toured Australia extensively as a writer, has been a writer-in-residence at a number of institutions and has toured New Zealand, Germany and Norway to promote his work.