Western Sydney literacy movement, Sweatshop, launches The Big Black Thing: a new anthology by emerging and established writers from migrant, refugee and Indigenous backgrounds. To celebrate, join Sweatshop for an afternoon of performance readings by some of Western Sydney’s most exciting writers, including Maryam Azam, Winnie Dunn, Shirley Le and Stephen Pham. Hosted by Michael Mohammed Ahmad and Ellen van Neerven.  

Curated by Peter Polites.

Winnie Dunn (International)

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Winnie Dunn is a Tongan-Australian writer from Mount Druitt. She is a manager and editor at Sweatshop. Winnie completed her Bachelor of Arts Degree at Western Sydney University in 2016. Winnie’s work has been published in W’sup Magazine, The Vocal, Voiceworks and The Big Black Thing. She has performed readings of her work for WestWords, Studio Stories, the Western Sydney University Writing and Society Research Centre and most recently, at the Campbelltown Arts Centre for the 2017 Sydney Festival exhibition of Another Day in Paradise.

Stephen Pham (Australian)

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Stephen Pham is a Vietnamese-Australian writer from Cabramatta. He is a member of the Sweatshop Writers Collective and has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of New South Wales. Stephen’s work has appeared in Overland, The Lifted Brow, Seizure, The Big Black Thing, and Right Now. Most recently, he performed at Campbelltown Arts Centre for the 2017 Sydney Festival exhibition of Another Day in Paradise. He has also spoken on panels and performed readings at the Wollongong Writers’ Festival, the Emerging Writers’ Festival, the Newcastle National Young Writers’ Festival, Late Night Library, and the New South Wales Writers’ Centre.

Shirley Le (Australian)

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Shirley Le is a Vietnamese-Australian writer with a media degree from Macquarie University. Shirley is a member of the Sweatshop Writers Collective and has produced youth shows for SBS Vietnamese Radio and has curated events for TEDxYouth. She won first prize in the ZineWest 2014 Writing Competition and her work has been published by SBS Online and The Big Black Thing. She has also performed her writing at Studio Stories, the Wollongong Writers’ Festival and the Campbelltown Arts Centre for the 2017 Sydney Festival exhibition of Another Day in Paradise.

Maryam Azam (Australian)

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Maryam Azam completed a Bachelor of Arts (Deans Scholars) from Western Sydney University and graduated with Honours in Creative Writing. She also holds a diploma in the Islamic Sciences. Maryam is a teacher in Kellyville and writes across the genres with a current focus on poetry. She is the recipient of a WestWords Emerging Writers’ Fellowship and is working on a collection of poems exploring the intersection between spirituality and the everyday, and the experience of being a Muslim woman in Western Sydney.

Peter Polites (Australian)

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Peter Polites is a Western Sydney-based writer. In 2014 he wrote and appeared in the Sweatshop performance writing production Three Jerks. In 2015 he was a recipient of the WestWords writing fellowship. He wrote Steps into Katouna, a performance text for Urban Theatre Projects that was put on for Sydney Festival 2017. Down the Hume is his first novel: it is part noir, part melodrama, part queer and all Western Sydney.

Michael Mohammed Ahmad (Australian)

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Michael Mohammed Ahmad is the founder and director of Sweatshop. Mohammed received a 2015 The Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelists of the Year Award and his debut novel, The Tribe was translated into Mandarin. Mohammed also adapted The Tribe for the stage with Urban Theatre Projects in 2015, which received the 2016 FBi Smac Award for Best On-Stage Production. Mohammed received his Doctorate of Creative Arts at Western Sydney University in 2017. His forthcoming novel, The Lebs, will be published in March 2018.

Ellen van Neerven (Australian)

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Ellen van Neerven is a Yugambeh woman from South East Queensland. She is the author of Comfort Food and Heat and Light which won the 2013 David Unaipon Award, the 2015 Dobbie Award and the 2016 NSW Premiers Literary Awards Indigenous Writer's Prize.