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.)
Nicole SmedeSenior Project Manager - First Nations
Nicole Smede is a multidisciplinary artist of Worimi and European descent, living and creating on Dharawal Country. A classically trained Mezzo Soprano, she ran away from classical music early on to pursue wider artistic interests. Her voice can be heard on award winning films and soundtracks, and her poetry can be found in exhibitions, visual and sound pieces, anthologies and journals including Australian Poetry Journal, Mascara Literary Review, Never Heard of Them (2019, Baby Teeth Journal), Guwayu: for all times (2020, Magabala Books), What we Carry (2021, Recent Work Press), 20x20x12 Sensing Place (2021, Manta Publishing), Mantle (2022, SCWC), The Anabranch (2022, HWC), and Shoot the Breeze (2022, Girls on Key).
In 2020, Nicole was the co-recipient of the 2020 Shoalhaven Arts Board Grant for poetry and painting collaboration 20x20x12 Sensing Place (2021, Manta Publishing), a finalist in the Meroogal Women's Art Prize and shortlisted for the 2020 Red Room Poetry Fellowship. In 2022, Nicole was a recipient of the inaugural Space to Create residency through Australia Council, Yil Lull Studio and ANU, a finalist in the Newcastle Poetry Prize and soundtrack composer for play Mt Hopeless (Merrigong Theatre).
Nicole has extensive experience as a cultural producer across multiple artforms including film, music, performance and visual art and is a passionate advocate for arts education and the revitalisation of First Languages. Nicole is a judge for the Reconciliation NSW Schools Reconciliation Challenge (2019 - 2022) and she has worked with and facilitated workshops for The NSW Department of Education, The Song Company, Red Room, Bundanon Trust, Wollongong City Council, South Coast Writers Centre and schools across the NSW East Coast. Working closely with Elders and community, Nicole is currently the vocal conductor for South Coast Yuin women’s choir Mudjingaal Yangumba, who are revitalizing Dhurga language through song, along with their sisters Djinama Yilaga.
Anne-Marie Te WhiuSenior Project Manager
Annie (Te Rarawa) has worked extensively as a cultural producer, writer, editor and weaver. Her work has appeared in numerous Australian and New Zealand journals, magazines and community projects including Te Whē, Tupuranga Journal, Contemporary Hum, Sport, Cordite Poetry Review, Rabbit, Australian Poetry, SBS, Running Dog, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Kaldor Arts Projects, un Projects and the Unyoked Anthology.
In 2022 Annie’s piece ‘Paper Thin’ will be included as part of the Another Australia anthology (Affirm Press). Annie is a guest editor for Debris journal and is the editor of the 2022 Unyoked Anthology. She has edited Tony Birch's poetry collection Whisper Songs and co-edited Solid Air, Australia and New Zealand Spoken Word. She is part of the guest curatorial team for the 2022 Brisbane Writers Festival, managing the Aotearoa and Pasifika programs. Between 2015-17 she was co- director of the Queensland Poetry Festival.
She is a 2021 recipient of The Wheeler Centre Next Chapter Fellowship and was a guest judge of the Judith Wright Poetry Prize (Overland) in 2021. Her weavings have been exhibited at Blak Dot Gallery as part of the Across Oceans (across lands) group exhibition, In*ter*is*land Collective’s digital exhibition 2020 and the Outer Space Gallery as part of the Conscious Mic exhibition.
Annie belongs to the Taraheke Collective in Aotearoa and will be publishing her debut poetry collections through them in 2022. Annie holds a BCA in Drama and Literature and completed the intensive CREW 256 Māori /Pasifika Creative Writing course at IIML, Victoria University, Wellington. She is currently enrolled in a Masters of Indigenous studies at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi.
Lorin ReidGeneral Manager
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
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)
Natalie BühlerDigital Coordinator
Natalie has a background in communications, events management and project support in arts, culture and education. Her passion for language(s) and communication has led her to write both professionally as a copywriter and creatively in prose, non-fiction and poetry. Originally from Switzerland, Natalie has crossed multiple oceans and continents with stopovers in Germany and the US before arriving on Gadigal Land in 2020.
Helena PantsisVolunteer - POEM FOREST
Helena (she/they) is a writer, student, and artist from Naarm, Australia. A full-time student of creative writing, they have a fond appreciation for the gritty, the dark, and the experimental.
Gabi CadenheadVolunteer - POEM FOREST
Gabi is a poet and composer living on unceded Gadigal and Wangal land. Their creative practice is one of intersections – between story and sound; between performance and protest; between queer bodies, feminism and the sacred. They hold a Bachelor of Music Studies (Composition) and Bachelor of Arts (English and Studies in Religion) from the University of Sydney.
Ibtisam ShahbazVolunteer - Poetry Month
Ibtisam Shahbaz is an emerging writer and poet based in Naarm. Her work is influenced by the amalgamation of her childhood in Australia and Pakistani heritage. She has a passion for literature and prose, and is currently working on her manuscript for a poetry collection. She has volunteered with Red Room Poetry, assisting with the annual Poetry Month and Poem Forest projects. You can find more about her writing journey at www.ibtisamshahbaz.com or on @ibtisampoetry.
Bridey EllisVolunteer - POEM FOREST
Bridey is a writer and arts worker living and working on beautiful Bunurong country. She has a passion for prose and experimental poetry and loves work that pushes the boundaries of traditional form. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Creative Writing) from The University of Melbourne.
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.
Martin GreenBoard Member
Martin has been a director of Sydney-based social purpose book publisher Pantera Press for 15 years, investing in the next generation of Australian reading and writing, and the Pantera Press Foundation, which focuses primarily on literacy programs for marginalised youth. He is also a musician and songwriter.
Appointed to the Red Room Poetry Board in 2022.
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.