Lee James Shott

Lee James Shott was born in Aberdare in the Cynon Valley area of Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales (UK), and holds an M.A. in Fine Art.

Shott’s paintings subjectively capture the contemporary culture of communities throughout South Wales. The work focuses on human interactions and the idiosyncrasies of his daily life, observations of people and their interactions, night-time walks, and commuting by public transport.

Shott paints both landscapes and portraits that are at once psychological and voyeuristic, implying that the viewer is surveying and surveilling his environments and subjects.

The work, seen as a whole, includes portraits with blurred and fragmented features along with figurative images of workers and young people. His landscape paintings often show machinery in the green valleys of South Wales. Each painting is a precise, and precisely ambiguous, moment of life.


Ali Whitelock

Ali Whitelock is a Scottish poet and writer living on the South coast of Sydney with her French, chain-smoking husband. Her latest poetry collection, the lactic acid in the calves of your despair, is published by Wakefield Press and her debut collection, and my heart crumples like a coke can (Wakefield Press, 2018) has a forthcoming UK edition by Polygon, Edinburgh. Her memoir, Poking seaweed with a stick and running away from the smell, was launched at Sydney Writers Festival to critical acclaim in Australia (2008) and the UK (2009).

Poetry was not something I ever thought was for me. I hated it in school and never read it as an adult. Then I turned fifty and, by some bizarre twist of fate, started writing my own.

The more poets I got to know, the more I was astonished to learn that many of them had been writing poems since they could hold a pen and had parents who’d recite verse to them morning, noon and night. How I longed for one of those poetic pipe-smoking fathers in corduroys sporting a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches, who’d read poetry to me in the evening by a roaring log fire. In my childhood, the only poem remotely hinted at in our house was ‘A Red, Red Rose’ once a year on St Valentine’s day. In short, our house was empty of poetry, literature, logs and books in general.

In an interview, brilliant Scottish writer Andrew O’Hagan told the interviewer there were no books in his home when he was growing up. After the interview Andrew’s father called him, more than a little annoyed, “What do you mean, you grew up in a house with no books? Sure there was a green book sitting on top of the fridge for years!” To which Andrew replied, “Dad, that was the Kilmarnock phone directory.” So the great Andrew O’Hagan and I shared similar book-less upbringings, but clearly that’s where the similarities between us end.

Two-thirds of the way through high school I was removed from the English class in order to make way for a student with more promise. I was put into geography. It wasn’t entirely useless—I can now read an ordnance survey map with great confidence, name the deepest ocean at the drop of a hat, dazzle at dinner parties trundling out the capital cities of the world like a trained chimpanzee.

Eventually I ran away from my geographical and non-bookish past in Scotland to Australia. Did my past catch up with me? Absolutely. But Australia offered me something Scotland at that time did not: endless skies, super-sized servings of ‘she’ll be right’; affordable therapy and a chance happening upon a secondhand book, when I was forty nine, called Eight American Poets. When I opened its pages I discovered John Berryman, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton. My mouth fell open like a drawbridge and I allowed these poems to march on in.

Ali Whitelock

Read Ali Whitelock’s poetry.

Review of the lactic acid in the calves of your despair.

You can read more about Ali at her website, ‹www.aliwhitelock.com›.

Virtual launch of the lactic acid in the calves of your despair

An UNFURL special project

Robyn Rowland AO

Robyn Rowland is an Australian citizen and has been visiting Ireland for thirty-six years and living in both Connemara and Australia for over twenty years. She regularly works in Turkey. She has written fifteen books, twelve of poetry.

Four of her books came out of the Irish landscape and history. Then her interests were caught in Turkey and the old Ottoman Empire. In 2015 came the ground-breaking history in poetry, her bi-lingual This Intimate War Gallipoli/Çanakkale 1915 – İçli Dışlı Bir Savaş: Gelibolu/Çanakkale 1915 (Five Islands and Bilge Kultur Sanat; republished, Spinifex Press, Australia, 2018). Turkish translations by Mehmet Ali Çelikel.

In Mosaics From The Map (Doire Press, 2018) again history lived in the intimate. Personal stories explored war, change, family and friendship – in Ireland, Turkey, the Balkans and Australia. “Here are powerful, wise poems of humane sensitivity and good sense, a voice pitched always in the true register of compassion,” wrote Theo Dorgan, “luminous meditations that open up original avenues of vision and thought. Straight from the heart.”

Robyn’s most recent book Under This Saffron Sun / Safran Güneşin Altında, Turkish translations Mehmet Ali Çelikel, returns to Turkey; capturing place, friendship, change and uncovering the similarities between peoples which unite us all, rather than divide. It gently alludes to Syrian refugees, to the desire for peace and for stability, to hold onto the things which bind. Mostly, it is about friendship, ‘different ways with love’ and place. Of this book Paula Meehan, Ireland Professor of Poetry (2013–2016) wrote: “Everywhere here a flag is hoisted for our common and shared humanity, in language rich, resonant, precise … From Istanbul to Cappadocia, to Marmaris, a book of the good things we find on this earth: a song of colour, pattern, taste and feeling, weaving that needs the map inside the hands as she so memorably puts it … the ultimate healing solace to be found in the authenticity/ of connection.”

Robyn’s poetry appears in national and international journals, and in over forty anthologies, including Being Human, ed. Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, UK, 2011) and eight editions of Best Australian Poems (Black Inc.). She has read and taught in Ireland for thirty-six years and has been invited to read in India, Portugal, Ireland, the UK, the USA, Greece, Austria, Bosnia, Serbia, Turkey and Italy, where, along with Canada, Spain and Japan, she has also been published, sometimes in translation.

Her work has been featured on ABC’s PoeticA, the RTE Poetry Program and TG4 (Ireland). She has been filmed reading for the National Irish Poetry Reading Archive, James Joyce Library, University College Dublin. She has two CDs of poetry, ‘Silver Leaving – Poems & Harp’ with Lynn Saoirse, and ‘Off the Tongue’.

Previous to 1996, when Robyn was diagnosed with breast cancer and left academic life, she was Professor, Head of the School of Social Inquiry, and Director of the Australian Women’s Research Centre at Deakin University. Robyn has edited and refereed for a multitude of international journals. In the 1996 Honours List she was made an Officer in the Order of Australia by the Governor General on behalf of the Australian Government for her national and international contribution to women’s health and higher education.

Robyn Rowland’s poetry appears in UNFURL /2

Go to robynrowland.com

Reviews and articles

Peter Lach-Newinsky

Born in Germany to German and Russian parents, Peter Lach-Newinsky came to Australia as an infant and grew up in Sydney speaking German at home. After studying English, French, German, Theatre and Political Philosophy at Sydney, Munich and Frankfurt universities, he lived and worked in Germany from 1967 to 1987. He returned to Australia with his wife and son after the Chernobyl disaster.

Peter’s three poetry books are Cut a Long Story Short (Puncher & Wattmann 2014), Requiem (Picaro Press New Work 2012) and The Post-Man Letters & Other Poems (Picaro Press New Work 2010). His awards include the Varuna-Picaro Publishing Fellowship Prize (2009), the Melbourne Poets Union International Poetry Prize (2009 and 2010) and the Vera Newsom Poetry Prize (2011). Published in Best Australian Poetry 2015, he has also been twice shortlisted for the Newcastle Poetry Prize, and been runner-up or commended in the Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize for New and Emerging Poets, the Arts Queensland Val Vallis Poetry Prize, the Shoalhaven Literary Award.

Peter lives with his wife Barbara in Bundanoon in the southern highlands of New South Wales. Their twenty-acre working property is designed along permaculture lines and includes 120 heritage apple varieties.

Read Peter Lach-Newinsky’s poetry

Website: ‹ https://peterlachnewinsky.wordpress.com ›.

Peter’s other website of translations from the German is ‘Passing on the Flame’: ‹ http://peterln.wordpress.com ›.

Stuart Barnes

Stuart Barnes was born and grew up in Hobart and lived in Melbourne for seventeen years before moving to Rockhampton, Australia. His first poetry collection, Glasshouses (UQP), won the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize, was commended for the FAW Anne Elder Award and shortlisted for the ASAL Dame Mary Gilmore Award. From 2014–2015 Stuart was poetry editor of Verity La and from 2013–2017 poetry editor of Tincture Journal. Since 2017 he has been a program advisor for Queensland Poetry Festival. In 2018 he served on the advisory board of Bent Window Books and guest co-edited, with Quinn Eades, Cordite Poetry Review’s TRANSQUEER issue. Stuart’s writing has been published/is forthcoming in Australian Book ReviewCordite Poetry Review, Meanjin, Overland, Plumwood Mountain, POETRY (Chicago), Poetry Ireland, Rabbit Poetry Journal, Southerly, Transnational LiteratureVerity La, Westerly and The Weekend Australian Review. Commissioned poems have been published in Peril Magazine and at Red Room Company and are forthcoming in Australian Poetry Journal. Stuart’s working on his second poetry collection, Form & Function, and a novel.

Twitter/Instagram: ‹@StuartABarnes

Website: ‹https://stuartabarnes.wordpress.com/

Glasshouses, described as ‘playful, subtle, moving, witty and outrageous … a major achievement’ (William Yeoman), ‘an impressive balancing act between a love of precursors and the strategies of the avant-garde’ (Geoff Page) and ‘[a] complex but compelling collection that captures joy, pain, beauty, darkness and adventure, sometimes all at once’ (Sally Piper), is available from a number of bookshops.

Read Stuart Barnes’s poetry

Nigel Cross

I was given a Voigtländer Vito B in the 1970s and started taking photos. Since then I’ve never stopped taking photos but am only now beginning to understand how difficult photography really is. I make images that satisfy my inner need for simplicity and tranquility.

I haven’t arrived at a ‘style,’ but I recognise that my frames do have a ‘look.’ Always distracted by light and practically addicted to contre-jour images—I have no explanation of why that came to be my way of making images. It may be just the edges and contrasts backlighting brings to an image. Also, I like my images to capture drama and serenity in equal measure—and landscape really helps with that.

Because I learnt photography on film and with old-school chemical darkroom technique, I had to unlearn a lot of technical things about exposure when transitioning to digital. I can get wrapped up in the technical aspects of photography, sometimes even to the point of losing what I’m shooting for! I’m more likely to get a keeper by simply responding to the light of a scene.

I was born on the north-west coast of Tasmania and grew up there before running away to sea, and then becoming an educational systems designer by way of industrial design and teaching. I live and work in Hobart and most of the images in the gallery are from Tassie.

I’ve been lucky to travel to Iceland twice and have recently been to Cornwall and Japan. There are only a couple of frames in this gallery from those islands but plenty more on flickr.

Nigel Cross



Images from islands (work in progress)

Les Wicks

Me—what can I say? Poetry has been a core part of my life since I was about 19 with a largish gap in the middle pursuing career and family. At its best, poetry can say things unutterable anywhere else and I’m completely committed to it. I really am now a one trick pony even if the beast is as thin as poetry is. I edit and run workshops which provides a bit of income but is much more rewarding on deeper levels. Most of my publishing work is aimed at getting new audiences rather than “clogging up” pre-existing outlets. Varying approaches, but some extraordinary outcomes in terms of getting poetry in front of people who wouldn’t normally encounter it. As for my own work I feel blessed that I have seen publication in rather a lot of places/countries/languages. I’ve had 14 books out and still love them all despite their attitude problems, the latest being Belief (Flying Islands, 2019). If you buy a copy you’ll make me very happy. I constantly work at bettering my poetry, I don’t share (a surprisingly common) delusion that I am a (grossly unrecognised) International Treasure. Compared to say actors I have occasionally said I am not a Streep or de Niro, but I aspire to be maybe Brian Dennehy. But heard today he has died!

Les Wicks, 2020.

Read Les Wicks’ poetry

Steve Cox

Steve Cox is an artist and writer. He has a forty-year exhibition history and his work is held in major public and private collections throughout Australia and internationally. As an arts writer, since 2000, he has contributed articles and reviews, and has conducted interviews with artists, for numerous newspapers, journals and magazines, including The GuardianVAULTAustralasian Art & CultureGay Times, UK; FilmInk.com, amongst others. Cox writes on a range of subjects, including contemporary and historical art; LGBTQI issues; social issues; cinema; contemporary music.

Between 2013–2014, he was the London Arts Editor of NakedButSafe magazine. In 2019 he was on the judging panel for the Young Arts Journalist Award (YAJA). Also in 2019, he was the inaugural Writer in Residence for Brunswick Street Village, an innovative building complex, which espouses green values and arts in the community as a primary concern. During the residency, he produced a collection of fifty poems, on a range of subjects.

Gina Mercer

Gina Mercer enjoys a three-stranded career as writer, teacher, and editor. She has taught creative writing and literature in universities and communities for 35 years. She was Editor of Island from 2006–2010. She has a passion for working with writers as book doula. Gina has performed her poetry in cities and regions throughout Australia as well as Canada and Ireland. Recently she’s collaborated with musicians interweaving their original compositions with her eco-poetry in the performances: ‘Off with the Birds’ and ‘Diving into the Derwent’. She’s been writer-in-residence at Prince Edward Island (Canada), Varuna (NSW), the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre and Katherine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre (WA). She’s published widely in journals, anthologies, and diaries, as well as ten books (poetry, fiction, academic nonfiction). The three most recent books are: The Dictionary of Water, a limited edition poetry collection, Wild Element Press (email), 2019; Weaving Nests with Smoke and Stone, a poetry collection all about birds, Walleah Press, 2015; and The Sky Falls Down: An Anthology of Loss, co-edited with Terry Whitebeach, Ginninderra Press, 2019.

Read Gina Mercer’s poetry

Photo: Gina Mercer with Patrick Kavanagh sculpture, Dublin.

Alex Skovron

Alex Skovron was born in Poland, lived briefly in Israel, and emigrated to Australia in 1958, aged nearly ten. His family settled in Sydney, where he grew up and completed his studies. From the early 1970s he worked as an editor for book publishers in Sydney and (after 1980) Melbourne; since the 1990s he has worked as a freelance editor. His poetry has appeared widely in Australia and overseas. The Rearrangement (1988), his first book, won the Anne Elder and Mary Gilmore awards and was shortlisted in the NSW Premier’s Awards; there followed Sleeve Notes (1992), Infinite City: 100 Sonnetinas (1999, shortlisted in the Age Book of the Year and Victorian Premier’s Awards), The Man and the Map (2003), Autographs: 56 poems in prose (2008), and Towards the Equator: New & Selected Poems (2014, shortlisted in the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards). Other awards have included the Wesley Michel Wright Prize for Poetry, the John Shaw Neilson Poetry Award, and the Australian Book Review Poetry Prize. The numerous public readings he has given include appearances in China, Serbia, India, Ireland, Macedonia, Portugal, and on Norfolk Island. An 80-minute CD in which he reads from his poetry was published in 2019 under the title Towards the Equator. His next collection, Letters from the Periphery, is due in 2021.

Concurrently with his poetry, Alex has intermittently published in prose, including short stories, a novella, and the abovementioned Autographs, which can be read as a book of microstories. The novella, titled The Poet (2005), was joint winner of the FAW Christina Stead Award for a work of fiction and has been translated into Czech. The Attic, a bilingual selection of his poems translated into French, was published by PEN Melbourne in 2013; and Water Music, a bilingual volume of Chinese translations in the Flying Island series (Macau), came out in 2017. Some of his poetry has also been translated into Dutch, Polish, Spanish, Macedonian and German. His collection of short stories, The Man who Took to his Bed, was published in 2017, and a Czech-language edition appeared in 2019. He has collaborated with his Czech translator, Josef Tomáš, on English translations of the twentieth-century Czech poets Jiří Orten and Vladimír Holan.

Concerns that have driven Alex Skovron’s poetry and fiction are many and various: history, language and music; the riddles of time and the allure of memory; philosophy, faith and the quest for self-knowledge; art and the creative impulse; fantasy, eros and the affections. His interest in speculative fiction has played a recurring role in his thinking and his work, as has a lifelong passion for music. As a poet, he enjoys both the disciplines and the aesthetics of formal design and the diverse challenges of freer structures. Integral to his project has been a focus on musicality and the primacy of rhythm. He likes probing the elasticities of syntax, and exploiting the ‘contrapuntal’ layerings available to imagery and meaning via compression, connotation, ambiguity.

Read Alex Skovron’s poetry

Photo: Martin Langford