Tamryn BennettArtistic Director
Tamryn Bennett is a poet and Artistic Director of Red Room Poetry living on Dharawal land. Her two poetry collections are Icaros (Vagabond Press) and phosphene (Rabbit Poetry). She is also editor of Líneas en tierra / Lines in land— a bilingual collection of Mexican 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.
Jonty Claypole MBECEO
Jonty Claypole MBE is a writer, documentary producer and arts administrator living and working on Gadigal land. Born in Sydney, and raised in London, he worked for twenty years in media and the arts in the UK. He produced and directed dozens of arts documentaries, before becoming Director of Arts at the BBC (from 2014-21), where he commissioned landmark series like Civilisations, many films about and by poets, and started the Contains Strong Language poetry festival. He was Chair of HOME, Manchester, one of the UK’s best-loved arts centres and sat on the advisory committees of the Booker Prizeand Art UK.
In 2021, Jonty was awarded an MBE for services to UK culture and published his first book – Words Fail Us: In Defence of Dysfluency (Wellcome Collection/Profile) – to critical acclaim. It is a cultural history of speech disorders, and their role in neurodiverse thinking, drawing on his long experience of stuttering.
Rebecca CuschieriDevelopment Director
Rebecca’s fundraising career began in the early days of Bell Shakespeare, working with the small team to support the company’s first performances around Australia.
Since then she has worked in senior development and marketing roles with many of Australia’s best-loved performing Arts organisations, including Sydney Theatre Company, Opera Australia and Sydney Opera House. She was also Chairman of Australian Theatre of the Deaf.
She comes to Red Room with a reader’s passion for poetry, and a real excitement to be part of the work that Red Room does to make poetry in meaningful ways.
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.
Lorin ReidGeneral Manager and Producer - POEM FOREST
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-OrrCreative Producer
Izzy Roberts-Orr is a poet, writer, broadcaster and arts worker based on Dja Dja 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 regularly consults on advisory and funding panels as an industry expert.
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 and Administrative Coordinator
Natalie is an emerging arts administrator and writer with a background in communications, events management and project support in arts, culture and education, living and working on Gadigal Land. 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.
Annie YoshidaMarketing and Communications Coordinator
Annie Yoshida is a writer and activist based in Nipaluna and Gadigal land. Formerly an English literature student, Annie is going on to study a masters of media practice at the University of Sydney.
Annie has been working as an organiser for the Asian Australian Alliance and is passionate about bringing awareness to issues faced by Asians and Asian Australians in Australia. Outside of this, Annie is a freelance writer.
Anne-Marie Te WhiuProducer - Fair Trade
Anne-Marie Te Whiu (Ani) is a proud Australian-born Māori through her father's line. She is also of Maltese, American, Scottish, Irish and British descent.
Ko Te Reinga tōku maunga
Ko Waihou te awa
Ko Waimirirangi te whare tūpuna
Ko Hokianga tōku moana
Ko Te Rarawa tōku iwi
Ani commenced working at Red Room Poetry in 2019 as a Senior Producer where she led the following projects: Guwayu, Shadow Catchers and A Sweatshop in A Red Room. She also co-produced and led In Your Hands as well as Poetry Month in 2021 - 2022. She founded Fair Trade in 2021 and currently works as a producer on the project.
For the past 25 years she has worked extensively as a cultural producer, festival director, writer, editor, weaver, workshop facilitator and community organiser.
Her writings have been published 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. Her commissioned piece, ‘Paper Thin’ is included in Sweatshop's Another Australia anthology (Affirm Press).
Ani has worked in an editorial capacity on several renowned poetry collections, most recently Bebe Backhouse's More Than These Bones (Magabala Publishers) and previously Tony Birch's Whisper Songs and as co-editor of Solid Air, Australia and New Zealand Spoken Word (both through University of QLD Press). She was a guest editor for Debris Magazine Issue 02 and is currently an Associate Editor for Contemporary Hum.
Ani is currently a co-producer of the Literary Program for the upcoming 2024 Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts. She was an invited member of the curatorial team for the 2022 Brisbane Writers Festival, managing the Aotearoa and Pasifika programs. Between 2015-17 Ani was co- director of the Queensland Poetry Festival.
Ani was a 2021 recipient of The Wheeler Centre Next Chapter Fellowship and was a guest judge of the Judith Wright Poetry Prize (Overland) in 2021.
In 2022 she was awarded dedicated funding by The Australia Council to produce her two forthcoming debut poetry collections titled Mettle and These Are The Bodies I Have Found. Publication details will be announced soon.
She has been awarded a studio space by Carriageworks at the renowned Clothing Store Artist Studios throughout 2023 where she is exploring poetic and weaving boundaries. Previously, 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.
Ani's website is: https://www.anne-marietewhiu.com/
Sophie BellottiProducer - 30in30
Sophie Bellotti (she/her) is a reader, writer and arts practitioner currently working and studying
on Wangal and Gadigal land. Sophie’s multidisciplinary practice explores the interplay of matter
and language, and how language carves and becomes material reality in socially and culturally
situated ways. Her work appears in Rabbit 34 and Upswell’s Admissions. She holds a Bachelor
of Arts (Honours) in Creative Writing from the University of Melbourne and is currently
studying publishing at the University of Sydney.
India-Rose ThomasPOEM FOREST Editorial Intern
India-Rose Thomas is a writer, reader, wilderness guide and arts worker based between nipaluna and naarm. She is finishing her Bachelor of Creative Writing and Geography at the University of Melbourne. Her work draws deeply from sense of place and has been published in the Newcastle Short Story Award Anthology, Sour Cherry Mag and other publications. She likes words that unlock your breath, your chest and your heart.
Eva PhillipsPOEM FOREST Editorial Intern
Eva Phillips is a poet and arts worker based on Gadigal land. She was shortlisted for the 2023 Thomas Shapcott Award and directs the Meanjin-based ARI, pps/FORA. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons I) from Griffith University, and is currently completing a Master of Creative Writing at University of Sydney.
Stephen ZavitsanosPOEM FOREST Editorial Intern
Stephen Zavitsanos (he/him) is a reader and writer currently studying a Bachelor of Arts (Creative Writing) at the University of Melbourne.
Stephen has read poetry for Frontier Poetry and edited non-fiction and reviews for Farrago Magazine.
His poem ‘Sick of Siken’ was shortlisted for the Dorothy Porter Award for Poetry 2022.
Indigo BaileyPOETRY MONTH 30in30 Intern
Indigo Bailey is a writer, editor and educator based in lutruwita/Tasmania. She recently graduated from the University of Tasmania, where she wrote an Honours thesis about experimental nonfiction. In 2023, she won the Island Nonfiction Prize for her essay 'Rain Rain'. Indigo is interested in how poetry overlaps with and enlivens many kinds of media.
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.
Chi brings financial and business leadership with more than 15 years of diverse commercial experience having worked in a variety of organisational contexts. He has a proven track record as a trusted business partner collaborating with leadership teams to drive organisational transformation and build sustainable business outcomes.
Chi is currently the Global Head of Commercial and FP&A at Bondi Sands, where he leads group planning and business performance. Prior to this, he held senior commercial finance positions with L'Oreal Australia in Professional Products and Luxury Cosmetics business divisions, where he led the execution of sound financial management and profitable growth. He also worked in corporate finance for the BBC based in London UK.
Chi has a long standing personal involvement and passion for the arts, having grown up in a literary family, and as a classical musician performing clarinet with various ensembles and repertoires.
He graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce and Information Systems from the University of Melbourne, studied in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania, and is a qualified CPA.
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.
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.