Tamryn BennettArtistic Director
Tamryn is a poet, artist and Director of Red Room Poetry. Her collection phosphene is published by Rabbit Poet Series. A second collection, icaros, is forthcoming with Vagabond Press. She is the editor of Lîneas en tierra / Lines in land a bilingual collection of Mexican poems published by Australian Poetry. Tamryn's poetic projects have been exhibited and published widely in Australia and internationally. She is a recipient of the Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship and Australia Council Professional Development Grant. Tamryn has a PhD from the University of New South Wales where she also taught Creative Writing.
Sarah GilchristDevelopment Director
Sarah is one of Australia's most respected arts administrators with over 15 years of experience across art forms. Between 2015–2019 she was Executive Director of acclaimed Baroque Opera company Pinchgut Opera increasing the presence and profile of the company nationally and internationally. She is a current appointment to the Create NSW Artform Advisory Board (Theatre & Musical Theatre) and was a non-Executive Director of the National Young Writers' Festival. Sarah has held leadership roles at several Australian arts organisations including Belvoir St Theatre, Sydney Writers' Festival, and the Australian Youth Orchestra. She brings expertise in strategic planning, fundraising, production, marketing, and ticketing. She also wrote many fairly average poems in her misspent youth!
David StavangerSenior Project Manager
David Stavanger is poet, performer, cultural producer, editor and former psychologist with lived mental health experience. His poetry has been widely published in journals, anthologies and newspapers. In 2013 he won the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize, resulting in the release of The Special (2014, UQP), his first full-length collection of poetry which was also awarded the 2015 Wesley Michel Wright Poetry Prize. His prose-poem ‘The Electric Journal' about receiving ECT was a finalist of the 2016 Newcastle Poetry prize. David was Co-Director of QLD Poetry Festival 2015-2017 and David co-directed Queensland Poetry Festival (2015-2017) and is a Senior Project Manager at Red Room Poetry. He is the co-editor of Australian Poetry Journal 8.2 Spoken, Rabbit 27 Tense, The Moth Autumn 2020 (Ireland, first international guest poetry editor) and SOLID AIR: Collected Australian & New Zealand Spoken Word (UQP, 2019.) His newly released collection is Case Notes (UWAP, 2020). David sometimes performs as Green Room-nominated spoken word artist Ghostboy.
He is also well known for his work as a workshop facilitator in schools and with several community writing projects that amplify marginalised voices and lived experience writers including Brotherhood of the Wordless (writers with autism precluded from speech), School of Hard Knocks – Word on the Street (writers with mental health and/or substance abuse issues), MAD Poetry (writers with lived mental health experience), and GranSlam! (a writing and performance project for emerging senior writers aged seventy and over.)
Anne-Marie Te WhiuSenior Project Manager
Anne-Marie Te Whiu (Te Rarawa) is a poet, editor, weaver, festival director and cultural producer. In 2019, she co-edited Solid Air, Australia and New Zealand Spoken Word anthology. She has edited Tony Birch’s forthcoming poetry collection Whisper Songs. Between 2015-2017 she was co-director of the Queensland Poetry Festival. Her poems and essays have appeared in Cordite, Te Whē Journal, Australian Poetry, Sport, Rabbit and Ora Nui amongst others.
Amelia TheodorakisMarketing and Communications Manager
Amelia Theodorakis is a writer and digital communications specialist from Melbourne. She completed an Associate Degree of Professional Writing and Editing from RMIT in 2015. Her poems have appeared in Meanjin Quarterly, Australian Poetry Journal and Cordite, among others. Her feature articles have been published in The Saturday Paper, Meanjin Quarterly and online for YourLifeChoices, among others.
Izzy Roberts-OrrDigital Producer
Izzy Roberts-Orr is a poet, writer, broadcaster and arts worker based on Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung and Boon Wurrung land. Formerly Artistic Director and Co-CEO of the Emerging and Digital Writers’ Festivals, and a Co-Director of the National Young Writers’ Festival, Izzy has most recently been working with local artists in the Western suburbs of Narrm Melbourne as Maribyrnong’s Arts Engagement Officer, advocating for artists on the Collingwood Yard Board and Moreland Arts Advisory Committee and is a Co-Director of Broadwave podcasting network.
Izzy is a 2020-2021 recipient of the Australia Council Marten Bequest Scholarship for Poetry, and is currently completing a book of elegiac poetry, Raw Salt.
(Headshot credit: Leah Jing)
Lorin ReidOffice Manager/ Producer
Lorin Elizabeth is a spoken word poet, organiser and teaching artist from Thirroul, who co-founded Enough Said Poetry Slam and is published widely including in the Solid Air anthology.
Lorin has performed at Yours & Owls Music Festival, Sydney Opera House and on tour in the USA. She was commissioned for Wollongong Art Gallery's 'Future Feminist Archive' exhibition and leads workshops & panels for The Stella Prize’s Girls Write Up.
Reflections & Blog
Lyndsay UrquhartConsultant – POEM FOREST
Lyndsay is a Koori woman, who grew up in the Dharawal community of Western Sydney. Lyndsay is now based in the City of Gadigal land, and works as the Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art at First Hand Solutions Aboriginal Corporation, and an artist education guide at the Art Gallery of NSW. Lyndsay is on the Board of Directors of the Aboriginal Carbon Fund, and works as a freelance documentary filmmaker, and as a remedial massage therapist.
Passionate about art and culture, Lyndsay has worked as a discovery ranger with National Parks and Wildlife, NSW where she was mentored by a Yuin Elder Deidre Martin on culture, bush foods and medicines, and how to appropriately teach culture to the public. Lyndsay has worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists for more than 12 years, and as an artist for 5 years. Lyndsay has experience working in local, state and federal government organisations, charities, sporting organisations, and in the corporate environment. In 2007 and 2008, Lyndsay was involved in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
Natalie BühlerVolunteer – POEM FOREST
Natalie has a background in communications, events organising and project support in arts, culture and education. Originally from Switzerland, Natalie has crossed multiple oceans and continents with stopovers in Germany and the US to settle in Sydney at the beginning of last year. While the pandemic hasn’t made it easy, she is keen to become more connected in the art world of Sydney and surrounds - and will perhaps one day dare to publish her own poetry, too. Until then, Natalie will be busy reading, editing and publishing the hundreds of beautiful submissions we have received and are still receiving for POEM FOREST.
Jaala HallettVolunteer – POEM FOREST
Jaala Hallett is a Dunghutti poet and multidisciplinary communicator based in Darug and Gundungurra country in the Blue Mountains, Australia. With a background in public relations and journalism and a genuine love for stories and language, Jaala works across various communications specialties as a freelance writer.
Through her writing Jaala explores relationships to the land, Aboriginal identity and culture, our bodies and communities – as a way to contemplate and balance decolonised ways of living.
Jaala is currently working on a piece titled, ‘But you don't look Aboriginal,' a series of poems and short stories that reflect on themes of culture and identity.
More than lines of language, or the space in between them – Poetry is everything. Everything that comes before these things, and everything that exists afterward.
Jessica Kejun XuVolunteer – POEM FOREST
Jessica Kejun Xu is a social researcher, music educator and shy artist, yearning to find community and cultural connection in diaspora, through synergy of creative and research practices. She grew up on Gadigal and Wangal Country, a child to Chinese migrant settlers, and is interested in what it means to make home on someone else's land. Jess is also starting a PhD in sociology and education, to try unravelling the intersectional contexts to common migrant experiences of pressures to be exceptional. Working on POEM FOREST has nurtured Jess’s gratitude for opportunities to be with nature, noticing the movements of ourselves and the places we’re in. They believe that a curiosity and wonder for nature can help foster deep listening and respect for the people whose lands we are privileged to be guests on.
Board of Directors
The Hon. Michael Pembroke is Red Room Poetry's Chairman. He is a writer, historian, avid naturalist and former Supreme Court Judge. Michael was born in 1955 and served as a judge from 2010 to 2020. He is the author of four books including Trees of History & Romance (2009). His latest is Play by the Rules (2020).
Appointed to Red Room Poetry Board in 2020.
Craig is Red Room Poetry's Treasurer. Craig has over 40 years of business and leadership experience. He was with PwC for over 31 years, and as a partner for 20 years. He was on the national executive and the business leader for the tax and private client teams for PwC Brisbane and Sydney. In addition to Red Room Poetry, Craig is currently on the boards of Cleanspace Pty Ltd (industrial and healthcare respiratory devices) and Key Assets Pty Ltd as chair of the Board ( foster care and children services), and is a consultant advisor through Good Foundations Pty Ltd and Lawn Corporate Advisory Pty Ltd providing advice to private and public companies and not for profit organisations on how to structure and optimise their business strategies. He also teaches English to new migrants each week at the Epping Community Hub.
Appointed to Red Room Poetry Board in 2016.
Judy FosterBoard Member
Judy is a designer-maker and artist born in Lusaka, Zambia and now living on the beautiful land of the Gadigal peoples of the Eora Nation in Eastern Suburbs of Sydney.
Judy is the National Membership Director at Philanthropy Australia with nine years’ experience working in the philanthropic sector, particularly in structured giving. She has deep relationship management experience across a broad range of relationships including trusts, foundations, organisations, families, individual donors, professional advisers, intermediaries, corporates, government and not-for-profit organisations.
Appointed to the Red Room Poetry Board in 2020.
Andrew FitzSimonsBoard Member
Andrew has been the principal of Dapto High School in the southern Illawarra for the past 16 years; no plan to retire. Initially trained as an English teacher; he remains entranced by the power to language to encourage, to celebrate and to explore the human condition. Andrew is active in the NSW Secondary Principals' Council; chairing the Vocation Education and Training Reference Group. Dapto High School services and supports a middle/working-class community and has 1000 students. A focus on sustainability, Asian Literacy and 'student voice' are thoroughly infused across daily operations. Andrew started building his farmhouse in Kangaroo Valley nearly 40 years ago; its nearly finished! He runs cattle and trees. He is the foundation chair of Brogers Creek Land Care. Married with two fine children. Incurably optimistic. Andrew is honoured to also sit on the board of the 'Top Blokes Foundation'. The TBF does it utmost to nurture positive masculinity in the fine young men of NSW and Qld schools.
Daryn McKennyLanguage Mentor
Daryn McKenny is co-founder of Miromaa Aboriginal Language & Technology Centre. He is a passionate Aboriginal person and proudly acknowledges his traditional heritage to the Gamilaraay and Wiradjuri nations. Born and raised on Awabakal country on the east coast of NSW, Australia, his journey in languages commenced with leading a community-based reclamation of the Awabakal language.
In 2004, this journey changed with the need to find ways to empower Aboriginal people to be further at the forefront of keeping our languages safe. He turned to technology and created a computer application aptly titled ‘Miromaa’. This word loosely translates to mean: “to save, to protect, to stop from further loss”. That became his journey – to assist Indigenous people where ever they are to stop their language from further loss through the empowerment of technology. Today, Daryn and Miromaa are internationally recognised, and this small Aboriginal organisation has been called upon to support language conservation around the world, providing support to 150-plus languages in Australia and the Torres Strait, and over 100 languages throughout the rest of the world with the majority of these in North America.
Daryn is also the founder of the Puliima National Indigenous Language & Technology Conference, which has been held in Australia since 2007.
He is a founding director of First Languages Australia and a former Advisory Circle member for the Institute on Collaborative Language Research (CoLang) in the US.
His passion today is how we can continue to be empowered with technology to allow us to save our languages, which will, in turn, help us continue to care for our country. Language is the gateway that will allow us to understand that. It is the key.
Appointed to the Red Room Poetry Board in 2020.
Annie is an investment analyst at Anacacia Capital, focused on investing in small and medium enterprises and working with executive management teams to achieve exceptional growth outcomes. Annie also has extensive business strategy development and operational improvement experiences across a wide variety of sectors, gained during her employment as a management consultant at L.E.K. Consulting. She is interested in leveraging her skills and capabilities within the not-for-profit space and is excited to explore her passions in improving accessibility to education and extra-curricular programs and their role in helping disadvantaged children break through the poverty cycle. Annie is currently a Board Observer on Force Fire and joined the Red Room Poetry Board as an Observer in 2020.
John B Fairfax, AOPatron
John B Fairfax, AO began his career in 1961 as a cadet journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald, joining the Fairfax board in 1979. He is a Director of Marinya Capital and former Chairman of Rural Press. John is President of The Girls & Boys Brigade and an Honorary Vice President of the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW. He has acted as Patron to Red Room Poetry since 2008.
Johanna established Red Room Poetry in 2003 and was Artistic Director from 2003-2015. Her poetry has featured in journals such as Quadrant, and the Best Australian Poems. In 2006 she created a series of literary TV shows, The Wordshed, in partnership with The University of Western Sydney where she is a research associate. Johanna is an honorary associate of The University of Sydney's School of Letters Arts and Media. Johanna received a fellowship from the St James Ethics Center in 2008. Her chapbook Felt was released in 2010 by Vagabond Press.