Omar Sakr, Rawah Arja and Stephen Pham are three of the rising stars from western Sydney’s vibrant writing scene. In 2017, these writers spent time at Varuna as part of the WestWords Varuna Western Sydney Residential Program. Come along to this session to hear about their work and discover the fiery writing coming out of Sydney’s geographical and cultural heartland.

Presented with Varuna, the National Writers’ House.

Co-presented by WestWords and Varuna. Supported by the Blue Mountains Library & Cultural Centre.

Omar Sakr (Australian)

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Omar Sakr is an Arab Australian poet whose work has been published in English, Arabic, and Spanish. His poetry has or will soon feature in Griffith Review, Meanjin, Island, Overland, The New Arab, Mizna, Antic, and Circulo de Poesia. He has been anthologised in Best Australian Poems 2016 and Contemporary Australian Poetry, and his debut collection These Wild Houses was shortlisted for the Judith Wright Calanthe award. He is the Poetry Editor of The Lifted Brow.

Rawah Arja (Australian)

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Born and raised in Punchbowl, Rawah studied a Masters of Teaching at Western Sydney University and is currently a primary school teacher. Her passion is to write authentic stories that give diverse groups a voice and a sense of belonging and to explore the Muslim identity.

Stephen Pham (Australian)

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Stephen Pham is a Vietnamese-Australian writer from Cabramatta. He is an original member of Sweatshop Writers’ Collective. Stephen’s work has appeared in Sydney Review of Books, Meanjin, Griffith Review, and Overland. He has also performed at Sydney Festival, Sydney Writers’ Festival, and Emerging Writers’ Festival. In 2017 Stephen received the NSW Writer’s Fellowship to commence work on his manuscript Vietnamatta.

Michelle Cahill (Australian)

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Michelle Cahill is a Sydney writer and critic. Her short story collection, Letter to Pessoawon the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for New Writing and was shortlisted in the Steele Rudd Queensland Literary Awards. Her honours include the Arts Queensland Val Vallis Award, the Hilary Mantel International Short Story Prize and the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Prize shortlist. Other works are Vishvarūpa, which was shortlisted in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, and The Herring Lass, published by Arc (UK). She was the CAL/UOW Poetry Fellow at Kingston Writing School and a Visiting Creative Writing Scholar at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. She co-edited Contemporary Asian Australian Poets and is Series Editor for the Vagabond Press deciBels3. She is a Doctoral Candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Wollongong.