Out of the Ordinary :
On Poetry and the World

A Conference in Canberra on December 5-7, 2022



Katsushika Hokusai, “Picture of Land Surveyors" (Chiho Sokuryo No Zu) (1848). Colour woodblock print, diptych. 39.5 x 53.2 cm. British Museum. Public Domain.


 Keynote readers and

presenters confirmed to date:

Heather Clark is Professor of Contemporary Poetry at the University of Huddersfield and author of The Ulster Renaissance: Poetry in Belfast 1962-1972 (2006), The Grief of Influence: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes (2011) and Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath (2020), which was finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, shortlisted for the LA Times Book Prize in Biography and winner of the Slightly Foxed Prize for Best First Biography. A New York Times Top Ten Book of the Year, Red Comet was listed as one the Best Books of 2020 by Oprah Magazine, LitHub, The Guardian, Entertainment Weekly, The Times (London), The Times of India, The Daily Telegraph and Good Morning America Book Club. Heather’s awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Fellowship; a Leon Levy Biography Fellowship at the City University of New York; and a Visiting U.S. Fellowship at the Eccles Centre for American Studies, British Library. Her work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, Harvard Review and The Times Literary Supplement, and she recently served as the scholarly consultant for the BBC documentary Sylvia Plath: Life Inside the Bell Jar.



Justin Clemens is an Associate Professor in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. He has published three collections of poetry, including The Mundiad (Hunter 2013), and writes about contemporary Australian art and poetry for a range of publications, including Meanjin, The Monthly and The Sydney Review of Books. Justin’s scholarly work focuses primarily on the relationships between poetry, psychology and philosophy in Romantic and post-Romantic writing. He has written extensively on figures such as Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, and Alain Badiou, as well as on themes of slavery and technology. His books include the monograph Psychoanalysis is an Antiphilosophy (Edinburgh UP 2013) and Lacan Deleuze Badiou (Edinburgh 2014), co-written with A.J. Bartlett and Jon Roffe. Justin has also co-edited many anthologies on such writers and thinkers as Giorgio Agamben, Alain Badiou, Jacques Lacan and Jacqueline Rose, as well as aided in translations of French language philosophy, most recently Englishing Kostas Axelos’s epic treatise The Game of the World (Edinburgh UP 2023) with Hellmut Monz. With Thomas H. Ford, he has just completed a book about Barron Field, the colonial judge who published the first book of poetry in Australia, slated to be published as Barron Field in New South Wales: The Poetics of Terra Nullius (Melbourne UP 2022).


Paul Collis is a Barkindji man. He was born in Bourke, in far north/west New South Wales. His early life was informed by Barkindji and Kunya and Murawarri, and Wongamara and Nyempa story tellers and artists, who taught him Aboriginal Culture and Law. Paul worked in Newcastle for much of his young adult life in the areas of teaching and Aboriginal community development. He has taught Aboriginal Studies to Indigenous inmates at the Worimi and Mount Penang juvenile detention centres and in Cessnock and Maitland prisons. He also managed a homeless Aboriginal boys' hostel. Paul earned his Doctorate at University Canberra in 2015, for a study of Barkindji identity with a specific focus on masculinity. His first novel, Dancing Home, won the 2017 David Unaipon Award for a previously unpublished work by an Indigenous author, and the 2019 ACT Book of the year Award. Paul’s first poetry collection, Nightmares Run Like Mercury, was published by Recent Works Press in 2021. Paul is Director, Indigenous Engagement, in the Faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Canberra.

Olena Kalytiak Davis is, yes, a first-generation Ukrainian-American, born and raised in Detroit, and an autodidact barely educated at Wayne State University, the University of Michigan Law School, and Vermont College. Everyone loved her first book, And Her Soul Out Of Nothing (University of Wisconsin Press 1997), especially Rita Dove, then stuff got... harder? She received a Rona Jaffe Award (so long ago), a Guggenheim (unearned), and several decent grants from the Rasmusson Foundation up in Alaska, but has applied for an NEA, for literally 30 years, to no avail. Wait, did she miss the last deadline? Kalytiak Davis now lives in Anchorage, in Brooklyn, sometimes simultaneously and depending on who is asking.

Olena Kalytiak Davis, a first-generation Ukrainian-American, was born and raised in Detroit, and educated at Wayne State University, the University of Michigan Law School, and Vermont College. This is her fourth full length collection. Her first book, And Her Soul Out Of Nothing (University of Wisconsin Press 1997), received the Brittingham Prize. Kalytiak Davis’s honors also include a Rona Jaffe Award, a Pushcart Prize, and a Guggenheim. Kalytiak Davis lives in Anchorage and Brooklyn.




David Musgrave has published eight collections of poetry, the most recent being his Selected Poems (Eyewear, UK). His 2016 collection, Anatomy of Voice, was awarded the Judith Wright Calanthe Award for Poetry. He is also the recipient of the Grace Leven Prize for Poetry for his collection Phantom Limb, and individual poems have been awarded many prizes. David’s novel Glissando was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Award for Fiction in 2011. David was formerly CIO for a health industry fund and now serves as Deputy Chair of Australian Poetry, an organisation which he helped found in 2011. In 2004, he founded Puncher & Wattmann, an independent press which publishes Australian poetry and literary fiction. The press has issued over 200 titles to date. David teaches Creative Writing at the University of Newcastle, and has published on Menippean satire, Alexander Pope, T.S. Eliot, Samuel Beckett, Patrick White, Structuralism and myth. He lives in Newcastle with his family. 




Omar Sakr is a poet and writer born in Western Sydney to Lebanese and Turkish Muslim migrants. He is the author of These Wild Houses (Cordite Books, 2017), and The Lost Arabs (University of Queensland Press, 2019), which won the 2020 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry. He is the first Arab-Australian Muslim to win this prestigious award. The Lost Arabs was also shortlisted for the Judith Wright Calanthe Award, the John Bray Poetry Award, the NSW Premier’s Multicultural Literary Award, and the Colin Roderick Award; it has been released in the US and worldwide through Andrews McMeel Universal. In 2019, Omar was the recipient of the Edward Stanley Award for Poetry, and in 2020, the Woollahra Digital Literary Award for Poetry. His poems have been published in English, Arabic, and Spanish. Omar’s debut novel, Son of Sin (Affirm Press), was published in 2022.



Lucy Van writes poetry and criticism. She is a Senior Research Associate in the English and Theatre Studies program at the University of Melbourne, where she teaches literary studies. She writes about contemporary poetry, historical photography, life in the colony, and global boredom. She was a writer in residence at Overland (2019-2020), and a Melbourne Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne (2018-2019). Lucy’s work has appeared in places including History of Photography, Katipunan, Journal of Australian Studies, Meanjin, Southerly, Australian Book Review, Axon: Creative Explorations, Liminal Review of Books, Cordite Poetry Review, Best of Australian Poems, Australian Poetry Journal, The Suburban Review, and Arc Poetry Magazine. Her first poetry collection, The Open (Cordite 2021), was longlisted for the Stella prize, shortlisted for the Mary Gilmore award, and highly commended in the Anne Elder Award. She is working on a book called The Beginning of the Poem.


Lindell Bromham is a Professor of Evolutionary Biology at the Australian National University. Her research focusses on connecting evolutionary processes across all levels of change, from the genome to the biosphere, and on developing new ways to answer challenging questions regarding the “tempo and mode” (pace and mechanism) of evolutionary change. Most of her work focusses on molecular evolution (rates and patterns of change in DNA) or macroevolution (processes of biodiversity generation in time and space), but in the past five years, she has extended this general approach to other evolutionary systems, such as language and culture. She has engaged in interdisciplinary research over several decades, working with artists, philosophers, linguists, mathematicians. Lindell was awarded the 2021 Eureka Prize for Interdisciplinary Scientific Research for work in collaboration with linguist, Felicity Meakins, mathematician, Xia Hua and Gurindji woman, Cassandra Algy. Their work focuses on a new Indigenous language emerging from a mix of Gurindji, a traditional language of the Northern Territory, and Kriol, an English-based Creole language widely spoken in northern Australia.



Research group website: www.MacroEvoEco.com

Gurindji/Kriol language work: www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1piEMnvaqo

To be continued. . .