21 September 2023

Meet the Toolkits: Poetry 2023 participants

The Express Media team is so excited to announce the ten young writers who will be taking part in this season of Toolkits: Poetry!

Facilitated by writer and editor Brayden Gilmartin, this 12-week intensive course will guide participants through the forms, functions, histories and uses of poetry, combining theoretical approaches, practical exercises and group workshops.

The group will meet with Brayden fortnightly, with opportunities for skill sharing and development. These meetings will foster community, encourage writers to develop a regular working practice, and open a space to receive encouragement/guidance. During the off-weeks, the group and their facilitator will participate in writing jams, utilising the tools and ideas explored throughout each session. They will hone their skills in textual analysis, create their own original work, explore the possibilities of collaborative work, and learn how to pitch work to publishers when they’re done.

Congratulations to the Toolkits: Poetry Class of 2023! We can’t wait to see what exciting new work comes out of this cohort.


Betty Sweetlove (29, she/her)

Betty Sweetlove is an early-career writer, dramaturg and performer based on Arrernte country in Mparntwe (Alice Springs). Before moving to Central Australia in 2015, Betty lived in London and south-east England where she grew up. She graduated from SOAS with a BA in History. Her work has been performed at the Desert Festival, Browns Mart Theatre, Totem Theatre, and The National Young Writers Festival. As a writer, Betty received an Arts NT Varuna Fellowship in 2021 for her play The Nestmakers, and was mentored through the Australian Theatre for Young People’s 2020 Fresh Ink program and their 2019 Writing Place studio with Carclew. Her monologue Swallows was published by Currency Press in This Was Urgent Yesterday. Recent writing and dramaturgy credits include Odyssey for Marian St Theatre (2023), Wired Differently (2023) and REBIRTH (2022) for Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre.


Claire Treadwell (27, she/her)

Claire is an aspiring writer who lives and writes on unceeded wurundjerri land in Naarm (Melbourne). She is currently completing the Nexus program with Arts Access Victoria, as well as participating in the WriteAbility goes local program being run by Writers Victoria.

She has been writing poetry since she was first taught the concept of an acrostic poem. Writing, and poetry in particular have seen her through some dark times and out to the other side as well. She hopes to use her writing to raise awareness of issues including mental health and disability, by utilising her lived experience to inform her craft.


Donnalyn Xu (24, she/her)

Donnalyn Xu is a Filipino-Chinese writer, poet, and arts worker living on Dharug land. She is interested in the entanglement between art and language, particularly as a shared mode of enquiry and care. Her work has been published in Liminal, Peril, Cordite, and elsewhere. She edits poetry for Voiceworks and is a casual academic in Art History at the University of Sydney.


Georgia Way (24, she/her)

Georgia Way is a freelance writer working and living in Naarm. Working predominately through creative non-fiction and memoir she writes of the intimate complexities of existence and human relationships with sex, love, and the self. You can read her work in Fashion Journal Magazine or on her Substack.


Grace Waring (20, she/her)

I’m a 20-year-old femme, goth, mad, disabled genderqueer menace to society. I live and work on unceded Wonnarua land and I’m currently studying at both Tafe and Uni, pursuing a PhD in English Literature. I write poetry about the female image in culture, nature and my partner in my free time.


Jaanu Kalyani (22, she/her)

I am జాను కళ్యాణి, pronounced Jaanu Kalyani. I am a settler from South India seeking asylum in so-called Australia, living and healing on Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung country. My creative practice is rooted in my efforts at decolonising, dismantling, and making space for my living experience. I am a 22 year old young Telugu person who experiences western womanhood through transexuality and queer joy. Since escaping traumatic circumstances, I started using art as a medium of healing and creating culture true to myself while being disconnected to my land and culture.


Jamali Bowden (25, he/him)

Jamali Bowden has been performing word experiments around Naarm/Melbourne for the past 6 years. He has had mixed findings. Jamali likes to play with language and involve other people in that play as much as possible. The subject of this play relates to connections – between people, between the past and present, and between language and reality.

He is currently working on a creative manifesto that examines the arbitrariness of the distinction between art and life through concrete/visual poetry and short parables.


Laura Charlton (22, she/her)

Laura Charlton is a writer and theatremaker from Wollongong, Dharawal Country, now based in Naarm, Wurunjderi Country. She is co-artistic director of Unspooled Theatre Collective, where she writes for the stage and directs. She also writes poetry and fiction.


Lucinda Lagos (22, she/-her_

Lucinda Lagos is a 22-year-old writer from nipaluna/Hobart. Lucinda has always had a passion for history and classics, and is currently in the final year of her Classics undergraduate degree at the University of Tasmania. Her writing style is often historically referential and steeped in classical homage, but she also draws frequently from her own history for poetic inspiration. She likes lots of coffee, good red wine, and laying with her cat in the afternoon sun.


Nadia Demas (26, she/her)

Nadia Demas is a Coptic trans woman from South-West Sydney. Her focus is on relationships between marginalised people, their breakdown, and the ways gender plays into it all. She’s written for Overland, SBS voices, and Sweatshop’s Stories Out West anthology.  Her aspirations are to be irritating and generally off-putting.