Writers on the Road: The winter program

These winter holidays we are packing our bags and going west!

The Holiday Break Program is designed to provide regional young people (12–24 years old) with access to recreational and social activities that are responsive, free, and local, so their creativity, imagination, self-confidence, and self-efficacy is enhanced, as well as their physical, social, cognitive and emotional development skills. 

Over the school holidays from Winter 2022 to Summer 2023 we are providing young and emerging writers in Orange and Broken Hill with creative writing workshops. Further to theses series of workshops we are providing in term opportunities for these young writers to access to our wider activities through our online Creative Kids eligible after-school writing classes, writing groups and online resources. Publications and podcasts will be developed out of the programs to showcase and share their work.

Below are details of the workshops on offer. If you would like to participate please contact WestWords on admin@westwords.com.au

The WestWords Writers on the Road are part of the Holiday Break program supported by the Office for Regional Youth in partnership with Create NSW.

In Orange
Two writers, 16-24 participants aged between 12 to 18 will undertake free creative writing workshops over three days in person in Orange in regional NSW during the first week of the July School Holidays. These young people will be developing their writing, editing, interviewing skills with award-winning writer James Roy and Charmaine Ledden-Lewis.

Dates: 6th, 7th 8th July
Where: 42 Dalton St, Orange NSW 2800

Presented in partnership with Orange Aboriginal Lands Council.

In Broken Hill
Two cohorts – young people aged 12-15 looking to engage their creative spark, and older teens with a love for all things science-fiction and fantasy – will have the opportunity to learn from two industry professionals, Ben Peek, a speculative-fiction author, and Claudia Chinyere Akole, a graphic artist & writer, to develop their storytelling skills, explore quest and journey themes, pen their ideas and creations, and ultimately boost their confidence to do so.

Headspace Broken Hill, one of the hosting venues for the workshops, have highlighted the therapeutic benefits of creative writing for these cohorts, as it allows participants to explore subject matters pertinent to them and their experience, in a creative and fun way.

Ben Peek is a critically acclaimed speculative fiction writer, best known for his works, The Godless and Leviathan’s Blood. Peek’s short stories have been published in a variety of genre magazines, including Fantasy Magazine and Aurealis. He holds a doctorate in literature and splits his time between teaching and writing.

Claudia Chinyere Akole is an exhibiting artist, illustrator, cartoonist, designer and animator. Claudia has taught design, comics, and animation workshops at various levels including high school, university, and professional settings. She’s taught comic-making workshops to high school students from migrant and refugee backgrounds through the NSW organization STARTTS.

Dates: 13th ,14th 15th July
Where: Headspace: 231 Blende St, Broken Hill NSW 2880
Big Sky Stories: Shop 3, 360 Argent St Broken Hill NSW 2880 www.bigskystories.org.au


Presented in partnership with
NSW Government through Create NSW and Office for Regional Youth, Orange Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG) and the Orange Aboriginal Medical Service.


We here at WestWords are incredibly excited to announce the regional winners and highly commended entries from the 14 participating LGAs in this year’s Living Stories Western Sydney Writing Prize.

Over 40 writing workshops were delivered in conjunction with WestLit libraries, after which WestWords welcomed 500-word entries; poems, short stories or personal essays; from entrants 10 years and older, based on the theme: Things Unsaid. Judges from each local community were brought together to select the regional winners and highly commended for each category.

SHORT STORY or POEM. 10 – 12 years; 13 – 15 years; 16 – 18 years; and adults (18+).

Each regional winner & highly commended entry receives a cash prize – as well as the publication of their work in the upcoming Things Unsaid book!

Total prize pool of over $10,000
Regional (awarded in each participating LGA)
Winners: Adult – $300, Junior categories – $100
Highly Commended: Adult – $100 cash, Junior categories $50

Click on the suburb to see the winners and highly commendeds!


The winners from each LGA now go on to compete for the overall winner’s prizes.

Winner: Adult – $1,000, Junior categories – $500
Highly Commended: Adult – $500, Junior categories – $250

Join us on Monday 18th July, 10.30am at the Parramatta Chamber of Commerce (35 Smith St, Parramatta NSW 2150) for the official launch of the Living Stories Things Unsaid publication, and the announcement of the overall winners. All regional winners and highly commended recipients are encouraged to be there! RSVP HERE.

Thank you to all the participating library services, and our sponsor for the 10-12 ages Booktopia, and our sponsor for the 16-18+ ages Australian Catholic University.


today, tomorrow, forever
being rohingya
by Pan Sandar Myint, Abdullah, A.S Junike and Yasor 

“These poems, as harrowing as they are beautiful, invite us to open our eyes while opening our hearts.” Critically Acclaimed writer ali whitelock 

In mid 2021 Michael Campbell, WestWords Executive Director  was introduced to Pan Sandar Myinit a young Rohingyan woman living in Canterbury-Bankstown who was collaborating on a poetry collection with 3 young Rohingyan men living in the world’s largest refugee camps in Coxs Bazaar, Bangladesh. With our support they worked with critically acclaimed poet ali whitelock to produce a powerful collection of poetry and photography to create a nuanced conversation and story of tragedy, hope resilience and the beauty of the human spirit. 

For more information, to preview and buy the book please click here

Transforming Silence: What are the words?

Transforming Silence is the second anthology from WestWords’ LGBTQIA+ writing group. WestWords LGBTQIA+ writing group meets every second Wednesday, 6:30 pm.
We are currently in-person and via Zoom (hybrid). 

I have heard from group members of their silences and that, in hindsight, the group has, every fortnight from February to December 2021, provided a possibility to chip or dissolve away those silences. For some of the group their creative practice was in its infancy, while others had and have a surer footing. Even so all were challenged. There were missteps, dropouts and creative pieces that were eventually pulled from the jaws of their personal silences. There was a profound opportunity outside of group meetings to share their work when it was in its infancy. These were valuable moments for those who have chosen this creative route of peril and eventual triumph in most instances. Thank you to those in the group who supported each other and engaged in the process with openness and compassion.
From the Foreword – Wilfred Roach: Facilitator, LGBTQIA+ Group

If you would like a copy of the book please email admin@westwords.com.au. The cost of the book is $15 + postage $7.50

The LGBTQIA+ writers’ group is proudly supported by 

One of my favourite things to do as an English Teacher is to bring the delights of the literary world into the classroom. To really embrace the creative writing process, these worlds need to be explored, experienced, tasted, challenged and felt by the students. I love the way words connect us as human beings and allow us the freedom to escape the mundane routines we face in the everyday. This escapism has never been more timely than in the current difficulties we find ourselves in today.

Our creative writing class is a lively bunch – with excitable thespians, illustrious illustrators, avid readers, aspiring authors and energetic, mohawked orators. A small group of students that commit to writing, indulge in the fictional worlds of others and encourage each other through magnificent teamwork and explosive brainstorming activities.

Being a small group we were able to create two stories each, to showcase not only our time with Catherine Jinks but also to represent the literary skills that we had learnt through writing stories

This whole process has been so inspiring for everyone involved. I have seen the students grow in confidence, embrace things that at first seem scary, step outside of their comfort zone and develop a renewed sense of belief in themselves. I would like to thank these amazing students for embracing this opportunity with both hands and squeezing everything out of it. Their hard work and dedication is evident in the final products they have presented.

Cara George, Head Teacher English, Blaxland High School 2021.


The After School Creative Writing groups run after school for students in grades 4-12. The program was formerly held in-person, but like most good things during this period of lockdowns and uncertainty, WestWords took the model into a Zoom room. This worked really well; many students from different places in Western Sydney and beyond were able to become part of a small writing community whose primary concern was creativity, imagination and writing craft.

At the end of 2021, when we asked the students how they would like to celebrate their good work, they said they would like to publish their work online, to share with friends and family. Some students chose to create graphics to accompany their stories, which we encouraged, as mastery and ownership of one’s creative work is so important to thrive.

Guided by Creative Writers and Facilitators Catherine Pelosi and Michelle Hamadache the students learnt about writing-as-craft, how to flex those editing muscles and how these considerations need not fence in ideas. They came to understand that the use of ‘writing tools’ clears the ‘brush’ around the ideas so they stand clear and strong. The work contained here is a small peek into imaginations that know no bounds.

Thank you to all those who contributed to this small collection and to Catherine who edited the work. WestWords is proud to have such long-lasting programs such as After School Creative Writing and hopes that initiatives such as these helps give confidence and seed the new generation of writers and the stories only they can tell.

To download the pdf: click here

For more information regarding the Creative Kids program, or to learn more about the more than 40 government savings and rebates to help with your cost of living, visit service.nsw.gov.au.






Announcing the winner for the 67th  Blake Poetry Prize

The Blake Poetry Prize challenges contemporary poets of disparate styles to explore the spiritual and religious in a new work of 100 lines or less. The poetry prize is delivered in collaboration with Western Sydney literacy organisation, WestWords and Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre. The judges for the 67th Blake Poetry Prize were multi award-winning poet and winner of the 2013 Blake Poetry Prize, Anthony Lawrence, Juan Garrido Salgado, a Chilian Australia poet who came to Australia in 1990 fleeing the regime that burned his poetry and imprisoned and tortured him for his activism, and the immediate past Blake Poetry Prize winner Judith Nangala Crispin. This year the Prize attracted over 500 entries from across Australia and internationally from countries including Germany, Hong Kong, India, Thailand, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States. The winner receives a prize of $5,000.

The winner of the 67th Blake Poetry Prize is
Simone King for her poem Surfing Again

Simone King is a poet, writer and editor who lives on Wurundjeri Country in Naarm/Melbourne. Her poems and reviews can be found in Rabbit, Cordite, Plumwood Mountain, Right Now and several print poetry anthologies. Simone won first prize in the 2021 Woorilla Poetry Prize (Judith Rodriguez open section) and received prizes for her poems in the 2018 Australian Grieve Writing Competition, the 2019 June Shenfield Poetry Award (highly commended) and the 2020 Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize (commended). Simone co-edited What we Carry: Poetry on Childbearing, Recent Work Press, 2021.

Read here: SKing_Surfing-Again
Watch Simone reading her poem here: SKing reading Surfing Again

Judges’ Comments
This is a graceful and moving account of coming to terms with loss. The language is economical, elegant and authentic. It does not shelter behind the opacities of abstract or elevated language, but rather conveys bravely, and with great vulnerability, the lived truth of loss and of honouring the dead.

Creating life within its language this poem is a wonderful deep breath. I wonder if Marquez’s love may be a reminiscence of returning from his journeys into loneliness and the loss of a loved one.

This prose poem successfully and indelibly creates a moving story of travel, loss and homage to friendship using language that avoids sentimentality yet embraces raw emotion. A fine example of how restraint can be luminous and lasting.


Highly Commended

Pencils from Heaven by Castlemaine based poet Kirsten Krauth.
The judges said, “A well-crafted and delightful poem, which grounds high spiritual truths firmly in everyday experience. Clever line breaks carry the internal rhythms of this poem without the need for conventional punctuation. The language is candid and direct, relatable– bearing witness to our own time and the many images which accompany our lives.”
Read here: KKrauth_Pencils-from-Heaven
Watch Kirsten reading her poem here:
KKrauth reading Pencils from Heaven


Rogue Objects
by Gershon Maller.
The judges said, “The voice here is unusual and adventurous­– truthful to the inner vision of the poet with all the risk that entails. The poem is multilayered, abstract and strange. With every reading more levels of meaning emerge. Its images are of a vast and miraculous world, something beyond the limits of language, but partly glimpsed–the way one might glimpse a football field through breaks in a hedge.”
Read here:GMaller_Rogue-Objects
Watch Gershon reading his poem here: 
GMallor reading Rogue Objects


Also on the shortlist

I Will Never  by Jennifer Harrison
The judges said, “Filled with strong emotions and grief the poet’s deep voice is a lament for the world and for how relationships break down both in the virtual and the real, within ourselves and with nature. Combining intense emotion with technical grace and skill, this poem stands out for its willingness to embrace loss and beauty simultaneously, and in so doing offers us a template for hope in challenging times.”
Read here: JHarrison I-Will-Never
Watch Jennifer reading her poem here: JHarrison reading I Will Never


Flat Rock, September by Mark Tredinnick
The judges said, “Embracing love, memory and joy this beautiful poem is placed within the poetic rhythm of today’s world, and its dialogues.
A beautiful poem elegantly crafted in couplets. The language is musical and reverent, paying homage to our literary forbears, replete with
evocative, shining images.”
Read here:MTredinnick_Flat-Rock-September
Watch Mark reading his poem here: 
MTredinnick reading Flat Rock, September

Everything Must Go by Meredith Wattison
The judges said, “This is an elegantly rendered thank you to the real worlds, and the literary worlds, that nurture us. Its language is graceful and economical, beautifully structured and rhythmic. Through familiar images this poem reminds us that we construct ourselves, every day, from the impressions we surround ourselves with.”
Read here:
Watch Meredith reading her poem here: MWattison reading Everything Must Go

The Blake Poetry Prize is presented in partnership with Liverpool City Council and Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre:

The WestWords/Ultimo Prize is now closed. Thank you to all the writers who submitted. The announcement will be made in late August 2022.


The WestWords/Ultimo Prize is a new prize that aims to reveal the diversity of a contemporary Australia. Nowhere is the experience of a diverse culture and experience more apparent than in Western Sydney, home to 10% of Australia’s population.

The Prize welcomes submissions from emerging writers of fiction and narrative non-fiction with a completed, previously unpublished manuscript who have a connection to Western Sydney. This connection can be through their personal connection, their manuscripts or the subject matter they deal with and its relevance to the issues and concerns of this dynamic region.

The winner will receive:
* $5,000 in prize money,
* a week at Varuna, The National Writers’ House and
* a publication deal with Ultimo Press.

Entry is free.

Entries open: 25th March, 2022
Entries close: Tuesday 17th 5pm
Announcement: late August 2022

“At Ultimo Press we’re driven to be the home for the best new writing coming out of Australia – which is why we’re so excited to be working with WestWords to discover amazing new voices. We can’t wait to see what stories the WestWords/Ultimo Prize uncovers, and to share those new voices with readers everywhere.” Robert Watkins, Ultimo Press Publishing Director

“Western Sydney, its stories and concerns, are a rich tapestry that exemplifies the forefront of new Australian writing. WestWords is dedicated to nurturing and providing opportunities for writers to have their stories told and celebrated. The partnership with Ultimo Press is so important because it provides the linkage between new writers, their writing and national audiences.” Michael Campbell, Executive Director, WestWords.


  1. The Prize is open to both published and unpublished emerging writers.
  2. The manuscript must be a complete work of fiction or narrative non-fiction, between 60,000 and 90,000 words, aimed at an adult readership.
  3. The manuscript must be written in English and an entirely original work, written by the entrant.
  4. No more than 10% of the manuscript can be previously published in any form, including self-publishing.
  5. The submitted manuscript cannot be under consideration to any other publisher or entered in any other award.
  6. Entrants to the prize must not be a current employee of WestWords, Ultimo Press, Hardie Grant Publishing, Hardie Grant Media or Hardie Grant X.
  7. Manuscripts must be double spaced, to include the title and page number on every page, and to be written in a simple, clear font. The manuscript must be submitted as either a PDF or Word document.
  8. Entrants must demonstrate their, or the manuscript’s connection to Western Sydney.
  9. Entrants must include a short synopsis (no more than 600 words) and a short bio (no more than 300 words) of the entrant.
  10. Entrants must be citizens or full-time residents of Australia.
  11. All entries must be submitted via the entry form on the WestWords website (westwords.com.au) and by 5pm, 17th May, 2022. Hard copy or emailed submissions will not be accepted.
  12. Entries will be judged on the manuscript’s literary merit and commercial potential.
  13. The judging panel will include a representative from WestWords, and a representative from Ultimo Press.
  14. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into either during or after the judging process.
  15. The winner and shortlistees will be notified by phone and/or email. The winner will be announced in late August 2022 and on the WestWords and Ultimo press’ website.
  16. The winner of the WestWords/Ultimo prize receives $5,000 in prize money, a week at Varuna, The National Writers’ House as part WestWords/Varuna Emerging Writers’ Residency program (19th-25th September, 2022) and a publication deal with Ultimo Press, which constitutes an advance against royalties from sales, and a contract to publish the winning book with Ultimo Press. Only one prize will be awarded. The offer of publication will be made in good faith and based on competitive commercial terms for the work.
  17. Ultimo Press will make an offer for worldwide publications rights in the winning entry, under the terms of a publishing agreement, which shall be negotiated with the winner in good faith and in line with industry norms. The winner of the WestWords/Ultimo Prize agrees to negotiate those terms in good faith.
  18. Ultimo Press reserves the right to make a good faith offer based on competitive commercial terms for worldwide publication rights to any manuscript submitted to the competition, until the winner has been announced. Work submitted to the prize must not be offered for publication elsewhere until after the winner has been announced.
  19. The winner and shortlistees grant WestWords, Ultimo Press and Hardie Grant Books the right to use all or any part of their entry for the purpose of announcing or promoting the author as a winning entrant, or to promote the prize itself.
  20. The winner and shortlistees agree to take part in events and media activities to promote the prize.
  21. WestWords and Ultimo Press reserves the right not to offer a prize if in its reasonable opinion no entry is received which is of an acceptable standard to warrant publication.
  22. By entering the WestWords/Ultimo Prize you accept the conditions of entry and give your consent for your manuscript to be considered for the prize.

In entering the competition you warrant that: 

  • Publication of your manuscript by Ultimo Press will in no way whatsoever infringe on any existing copyright or licence or any other right of any third person.
  • The work contains no defamatory matter, or any matter which invades any individual’s right of privacy.
  • All statements in the work purporting to be facts are true.

***Entries are now closed to this event. Stay tuned for winners and highly commended to be announced.

Living Stories Western Sydney Writing Prize 2022
Presented by WestWords and WestLit Libraries

The Living Stories Western Sydney Writing Prize is a creative writing competition for residents of Western Sydney and Wingecarribee Shire, which is home to over 2.5 million Australians originating from 180 countries, speaking almost 100 different languages, and residing in 14 local government areas.

The past two years have changed the world, and it has changed our experience of it. At times the world has got smaller when we didn’t venture out our front doors. Much we took for granted was lost. We reevaluated our lives on so many levels. We discovered new things about ourselves, about others, and yet so many things have been left unsaid.

Living stories is your opportunity to share your story. If you are 10 years or older we want your piece of writing responding to the theme Things Unsaid.


Your poem, story or personal essay (500 words maximum) will be judged by panels drawn from your local community. The winners from each LGA will go to a second panel to vie for the top prize.

Total prize pool of over $10,000

Winner: Adult – $1,000, Junior categories – $500
Highly Commended: Adult – $500, Junior categories – $250

Regional (awarded in each participating LGA)
Winners: Adult – $300, Junior categories – $100
Highly Commended: Adult – $100 cash, Junior categories $50

Categories are as follows: 10 – 12 years; 13 – 15 years; 16 – 18 years; and adults (18+). 

Free Living Stories workshops
In conjunction with the competition WestWords will be running in excess of 40 free writing workshops in locations across the region. We also have some workshops online if you can’t make it in person.
Click here for more information

Click here for Living Stories T&Cs and selection criteria


Winners and highly commended entries in each category, from each LGA, will be announced at the end of May/early June

The overall winners will be announced late June/early July.

For more information, please contact us on 1800 WESTWORDS or by email: admin@westwords.com.au

Entries closed midnight, Sunday 1st May 2022.


We are so excited to share this news with you! Orange-based publisher Dirt Lane Press recently wound up its solo operation, but will continue in both name and spirit as an imprint of WestWords.

Visit: Dirtlane Press

Dirt Lane Press founder and publisher Margrete Lamond, says, “After seven years Dirt Lane Press has reached a point in its evolution where it has outgrown the available resources required to keep it flourishing and expanding. The clearest way forward was to find Dirt Lane a home with an organisation that shares our goals and aspirations, and that has the resources to help the list grow in the ways we always envisioned for it.”

Michael Campbell, Executive Director of WestWords, says, “We are thrilled to bring Dirt Lane Press under the umbrella of WestWords. We see this as a natural evolution to the work we do. Both organisations share similar philosophies, seeking to develop and reveal the otherwise untold stories of contemporary Australia. We are also fortunate that Margrete Lamond will continue as publisher, bringing another layer of depth of experience and knowledge to the WestWords organisation. We are looking forward to continuing the Dirt Lane legacy into the future.”

The first title for Dirt Lane, as part of WestWords, was published on March 1st. It is The Tree of Ecstasy and Unbearable Sadness by the 2021 Prime Minister’s Literary Award Award winner Matt Ottley. The book is a ground-breaking, large-scale multi-modal project weaving together literature, music and visual art, and film in the poignant story of one boy’s journey into mental illness.

WestWords is dedicated to celebrating and championing the stories of the people, places and cultures that comprise the heart of Western Sydney. Dirt Lane Press also ran community book-related projects for refugees, the homeless, youth groups and women’s groups, fulfilling its aim of bringing quality books to demographics not usually associated with picture books, and demonstrating how small stories can make big differences to people’s lives.

You may recall that Dirt Lane Press has worked with WestWords in the past, most notably in the multi-lingual e-publication of the picture book Where Happiness Hides by Anthony Bertini, with illustrations by Jennifer Goldsmith, and the touring exhibition of original art by Persian artists, Birds of a Feather. For these reasons, and more, we can see that this is such a compatible fit. Margrete says: “Dirt Lane coming under the umbrella of WestWords is a liaison made in heaven and I’m both curious and excited to see where all this leads us. Uncharted territory is always the most interesting.”