Anna Jacobson is a writer and artist from Brisbane. Amnesia Findings (UQP, 2019) is her first full-length poetry collection, which won the 2018 Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize. In 2020 Anna won the Nillumbik Prize for Contemporary Writing (Open Creative Nonfiction), was awarded a Queensland Writers Fellowship, and was shortlisted in the Spark Prize. In 2018 she won the Queensland Premier’s Young Publishers and Writers Award. Her writing has been published in literary journals and anthologies including Chicago Quarterly Review, Griffith Review, Australian Poetry Journal, Cordite, Meanjin, Rabbit: a journal for nonfiction poetry, and more. Anna’s poetry chapbook The Last Postman (Vagabond Press, 2018) is part of the deciBels 3 series. She is a PhD candidate at QUT specialising in memoir. She holds a Master of Philosophy in poetry (QUT 2018), a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies (UQ 2019), a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Creative and Professional Writing) (QUT 2015), and a Bachelor of Photography with Honours (Griffith University 2009). She was a finalist in the 65th Blake Art Prize, 2019 Marie Ellis Prize for Drawing and 2009 Olive Cotton Award for Photographic Portraiture. She won the 2009 Queensland Poetry Festival Filmmakers Challenge. Her website is www.annajacobson.com.au.
Dr. Tara Mokhtari is a Persian poet, born in Canberra, residing in New York City. Poetry is deeply ingrained in Persian culture and in the spirit of Persian people, and Mokhtari’s mother, Pari Azarmvand Mokhtari, is a world expert in Hafez. Mokhtari wrote her first poem at age 13, and a few years later, upon pausing to take a breath between the first two stanzas of Stevie Smith’s poem ‘Black March,’ Mokhtari made the conscious decision (which was likely made in and by the universe much earlier) that poetry was her life’s work. As a postgraduate student at RMIT University for both her PhD and Masters creative projects, Mokhtari wrote verse novels, which accompanied critical dissertations on modern poetry and poetics. Stevie Smith remained at the center of Mokhtari’s research during these years.
While poetry is her most enduring love, Mokhtari writes across the creative media. She was a founder and the in-house playwright of Canberra theatre company, The Nineteenth Hole (est. 2001), and was commissioned to write a play for Canberra’s preeminent independent company, Free Rain, when she was just 18. These plays earned multiple awards and nominations. Mokhtari went on to write for screen on assignment, most recently writing an original sci-fi feature film for Crick Films (Canberra) and a feature adaptation of a New York Times best-selling book for Barry Navidi (London/Los Angeles).
Mokhtari’s first collection of poetry, Anxiety Soup, was published in Australia by Finlay Lloyd Press (2013). The poems are connected thematically as snippets of daily life that shift the existential core of the speaker in some way. Mokhtari’s co-edited book of essays, Testimony, Witness, Authority: The Politics and Poetics of Experience, was published in 2013 by Cambridge Scholars Publishing. In 2012 and 2011, Mokhtari edited the English translations of two books by Dr. Hashem Rajabzadeh (Rikkyo University, Japan) who is a recipient of The Order of the Sacred Treasure in Japan for his lifelong work in introducing Persian culture to Japan.
The culmination of her work—creative, scholarly, and pedagogical—is Mokhtari’s book, The Bloomsbury Introduction to Creative Writing (2015), which is now in its second edition and has been translated into Simplified Chinese. The book has been adopted by university programs in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, approaches creative writing as a form of knowledge that, for the writer, is symbiotically linked to experience.
Mokhtari is part of the wonderful faculty at CUNY Bronx Community College’s Communication Arts and Sciences department, and lives in Brooklyn with the world’s greatest cat, Malake. Mokhtari has given guest lectures at SUNY Oswego (NY), BRIC TV (NY), Victoria University (Melbourne), This Is Not Art Festival (New Castle), and her works are published in magazines and anthologies in the US, Australia, Prague, and beyond.
After graduating from art college (I have a BFA in Illustration), I worked for several commercial art studios doing illustrations for advertising.
I had always been a fan—for literally as long as I can remember—of both science fiction and astronomy so in my spare time I enjoyed creating realistic scenes set on other worlds. Much of my inspiration for doing this came from my admiration for Chesley Bonestell.
Learning that the new National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC was going to have a planetarium, I wrote to the director, asking if they had any plans to have a staff artist. No, he replied, but it sounded like a good idea. My wife and I soon found ourselves on our way to the nation’s capital.
I worked for NASM for four years before leaving to become a freelance illustrator … which is what I have done for the past 40+ years. I had my first book published shortly after leaving the museum—Space Art: a history of space painting—and my 60th book will be appearing this winter. It’s a lot of fun working on one’s own books: you not only get to write it you get to illustrate it, too. Admittedly, this hasn’t been universally true: several of my books have few if any illustrations by me. For instance, my biography of artist Chesley Bonestell or my histories of space travel and spacecraft. I have also written several novels … and even created a comic book series.
I have also created postage stamps (one of which is attached to the New Horizons spacecraft, now deep in the Kuiper Belt), and have contributed production art to several motion pictures, such as David Lynch’s Dune.
About 80 or 90 percent of what I do today is in the realm of scientific illustration … primarily space and astronomy-related art. Some of the clients I work for regularly are Astronomy Magazine and Scientific American. But I also do a lot of book covers, which is something I especially enjoy doing…if for no other reason than that they make a really nice change of pace after doing planets all day.
While all of my space art had been originally created using traditional media—acrylics on illustration board—I made the switch to painting digitally almost 20 years ago … largely because it was easier meeting my deadlines. However, I still do space art in real paint and with real brushes just for my own satisfaction.
The goal of all my space art is to convey the reality of other worlds … that they are just as real and substantial and beautiful as our own planet. I want people who see my art to believe that they are seeing places that they might very well be able to visit themselves.
Photo: Ron Miller, with his Hugo Award from World Science Fiction Society.
Philip Salom was born in Western Australia and lived in the state’s South West farming areas. During this time he also studied and worked in cattle research and agricultural extension. After several years of painting he turned to writing.
Since 1980 he has produced fourteen books of poetry and five novels. His awards for poetry have been both national and international, and include twice winning the Commonwealth Poetry Book Prize in London, the Western Australian Premier’s Prize (twice) and the Newcastle Poetry Prize (in 1996 and again in 2000). Philip has also been recognised with the prestigious Christopher Brennan Award, a lifetime award for poetry “of sustained quality and distinction”.
His collection The Well Mouth was named a Sydney Morning Herald Book of the Year, and Adelaide Review Book of the Year. Two slightly unexpected collections by Salom are written through his heteronyms—The Keeper of Fish by Alan Fish, and Keeping Carter by MA Carter. In 2015 Philip published the poetry trilogy Alterworld which includes Sky Poems, The Well Mouth and the new section Alterworld in a searching and strange interrogation of history and consciousness through imagined human ‘worlds’.
His novels have also attracted wide-ranging acclaim—through reviews in major papers, journals and award lists. The Returns was shortlisted for the 2020 Miles Franklin Award and the Queensland Premier’s Prize. In 2016, Waiting was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin and the Prime Minister’s Award. His two earlier novels are Toccata and Rain which was shortlisted for the ALS Gold Medal and the WA Premier’s Prize for Fiction, and Playback which won the WA Premier’s Prize for Fiction.
His new novel is The Fifth Season, a story based around missing persons and disappearances and, perhaps more strangely, the phenomenon of found people: people who are found dead, their identities unknown or erased.
He has read as a guest writer in America, Canada, Britain, the Republics of Serbia and Macedonia, Italy, Singapore and New Zealand.
Datsun Tran is an Australian multidisciplinary artist, his work primarily features the natural world, though it is about us, the human story. His work has explored themes of conflict and utopia, filtered through the lens of what we have in common, rather than what separates us.
Tran has exhibited extensively in Australia, as well as North America, Asia and Europe. He has had over twenty-five solo and group shows, exhibited in over thirty art fairs, and has been a finalist in over thirty-five art prizes.
Ellen Shelley grew up in Adelaide. Her life changed considerably when she entered the ARMY at aged 18. She travelled extensively around Australia and overseas in the Signals Core. She has now settled by the harbour in Newcastle where she continues to raise her four children while enjoying the passion of writing poetry with purpose and direction.
She writes in response to real-life events, and her own and others’ emotions. She publishes on various platforms, she says, “including a sidewalk in Adelaide, but you can only read it when it rains.”
Ellen’s writing speaks of a diverse range of struggles. It delves into the mundane, how she arrives there with or without acceptance. Her voice carries a mother’s tone. It is strong without denying her weakness, alone in a fight, shared by many. These poems emerge from a place of digging around the wires of disconnect, the not fitting in. Raised in a family of stepbrothers and stepsisters and a procession of stepmothers, she soon learnt the art of resilience and the need to find her own voice in the world
Her favourite quote is by Robert Frost: «For me the initial delight is in the surprise of remembering something I didn’t know I knew. I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing … is discovering.»
Melbourne-born Marcia Jacobs lived in New York (1977–93) where she worked as editorial assistant at Doubleday Publishing for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. On her return to Australia, Marcia devoted her time to teaching and more recently, writing. Her essays and poems have appeared in various literary journals and anthologies here and abroad. These include Meanjin, Westerly, Poetica Magazine, Voices Israel and Singing For All He’s Worth—Essays in Honour of Jacob G. Rosenberg (Picador).
Marcia is the daughter of the late Australian poet and author Jacob G. Rosenberg, winner of the National Biography Prize (2007) for his memoir East of Time.
She is also the mother of three daughters, each one an artist in her own right.
Gloria Stern is a visual artist currently living and working in Melbourne, Australia. She grew up in Melbourne and originally trained in Graphic Design. After working in the design industry for several years both in England and Australia, she then switched across to full time painting. Since 1996, she has had 12 solo exhibitions and has been included in numerous group shows.
Gloria’s paintings have been acquired for private collections in Australia, UK, USA, and New Zealand. Her works are also featured in the collections of Cowan Design, Melbourne, and the City of Boroondara Collection, Melbourne.
I have always been interested in exploring both figuration and abstraction in my painting, however, over the last couple of years, I made a conscious effort to remove the figurative element from my work in order to explore spatial relationships, colour and atmosphere within abstraction more deeply. This body of work led up to my last solo exhibition “Altered Space” in 2019. Since then, my interest in the figure is returning, but I think, in a less literal way than before. I am currently exploring ways of using figurative elements as more integrated abstract shapes, that allow for a freer interpretation of meaning.Gloria Stern
Judy Johnson is an multi-award winning writer who has been publishing her work for over 20 years. She has written five full-length poetry collections, several chapbooks and a novel. Her verse novel Jack was the result of a mentorship with the late Dorothy Porter. Jack won the Victorian Premier’s Award for poetry and was a text taught in University of Sydney and University of Melbourne . She has had writing residencies in Ireland at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in County Monaghan, The Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre in Western Australia, and in many other places. Her interests have always centred around Australian history and her latest poetry book, Dark Convicts, deals with the life and times of her two First Fleet African American convict ancestors.
Steven Warburton is currently working (in Emerald) and exhibiting in Melbourne, Australia. Since completing a Fine Arts degree at Monash University, Steve has exhibited widely, in group and solo exhibitions. His paintings and drawings are held in collections Australia-wide and internationally.
As an artist’s work is a reflection of his or her emotions, ideals, thoughts and influences, it is necessary to understand the importance the work plays in the artist’s life.
My work is the direct result of things that I have borne witness to, overheard in conversations, observed in the media or dreamt. It reflects my right to express my thoughts, in a way I hope will be accessible to the viewer, both aesthetically and literally.
As the world around us changes, the environment, the politics, our society, thus my imagery changes too.Steven Warburton