21 September 2022

Meet the young creators of Toolkits Connect!

We are so excited to kick off the last of our 2022 Toolkits programs with Toolkits Connect. Featuring 28 talented young writers and poets from across the nation! During this 12-week program, these creatives will be working with their facilitator groups exploring the nitty gritty of poetry, graphic narratives and digital storytelling with facilitators Maddie Godfrey (poetry), Eloise Grills (graphic narratives) and back for another round as facilitator Rory Green (digital storytelling).

Writers will meet as a group with their facilitator fortnightly on Wednesday evenings, connecting young Australian writers and offering 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 connect and share their work via a private online Discord channel, fostering connection and establishing relationships across the full 12 weeks.  

Toolkits Connect will present six live special events with guest artists and industry experts sharing their craft and hints for young writers. These events will be streamed for free on Express Media’s YouTube channel. 

For more information on our Toolkits and Toolkits: Live program (which you can participate in right now!) visit our website.

But for now, say hello to the Toolkits Connect class of 2022!

Graphic Narratives

Caitlin McGregor

Caitlin McGregor is an essayist, editor and critic living on unceded Jaara land. Their work has been published in a range of magazines, websites and literary journals, including Meanjin, Kill Your Darlings, The Big Issue, The Guardian, Overland, Going Down Swinging, and Voiceworks. They are currently working on a project exploring neurodivergence, queerness and folklore.

Jes Layton 

Jes (he/her) invented writing, the airplane, and the internet. He was also the first person to reach the North Pole. Jes is a creator and performer who lives & works on Wurundjeri Country in Naarm. His written work can be found at SBS, Junkee, Voiceworks, Kill Your Darlings, Archer, Black Inc, Nero Books and scattered elsewhere online and in print. 

Jes has also featured in a variety of local and national literary/arts festival, is the Digital manager for the 2022 National Young Writers’ Festival, Administrator for ClimbingQTS and Marketing the Communications Coordinator for Express Media. His Tweets have been written about in Teen Vogue, the Daily Mail, Screen Rant, Buzzfeed and more. Exposure was apparently payment.  @Ageekwithahat

Stef Raad

Stef lives in Naarm, where they make art and study psychology. They have exhibited with Platform Arts and been published in Voiceworks.

Kitman Yeung

I am Kitman Yeung, a 23 year old born in Hong Kong and raised in Perth and Melbourne, Australia. Whilst my educational background is from a scientific discipline, with a neuroscience focus, I aim to learn ways on furthering inter-disciplinary practice in my art. In my practice, I experiment with mediums of comics, picture books, animation, illustrations, and photography.

Charles Roper 

Charles is a writer from Canberra, Ngunnawal Country. His essays and autofiction have been featured in Critical Disdain, Obsession and Antithesis. In 2016, he was the recipient of the Paperchain Bookstore Award for Excellence in Creative Writing. You cand find him feeding the possums at Fawkner Park, or at charles-roper.com

Adalya Nash-Hussein

Adalya Nash Hussein is a writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Liminal, Meanjin, Voiceworks, The Lifted Brow, Ibis House, Overland and others. She has been an Emerging Writers’, Festival Melbourne Recital Centre Writer in Residence, a Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellow, and shortlisted for the Scribe Nonfiction Prize. She has edited at Voiceworks, Liminal and The Lifted Brow.

Selina Moir-Wilson

Selina Moir-Wilson writes, edits and draws pictures on unceded Wurundjeri land. They edit comics and non-fiction at Voiceworks and are a co-editor of Layabout

Helena Pantsis 

Helena Pantsis is a writer, student and artist living on the lands of the Wurundjuri people. Currently studying for their Master’s of Creative Writing, Publishing and Editing at The University of Melbourne, they have a lifelong love of creating and helping others achieve their own visions when it comes to their art. With a particular passion for the macabre, the surreal, and the unconventional, Helena has found an appreciation for graphic narratives in their ability to create an experience which text alone doesn’t have the capacity to do. Helena has had work published in various literary magazines, including Overland, Meanjin, Island, and Going Down Swinging, and as well as volunteering widely, she is also currently the creative editor for UMSU’s Women’s Department’s magazine, Judy’s Punch. Her work can be found at hlnpnts.com.


Digital Storytelling

Haobo Zhang

Aspiring Australian writer.

Ryan Pagdanganan

Ryan is a Filipino Singaporean currently in his final year of his double major in Creative Writing and Screen & Cultural Studies at the University of Melbourne. In 2021, he worked as a Programme Assistant at the Singapore International Film Festival.

Dasha Tan

Dasha (they/she) is an artist and farmer based in Kulin Country; with a foreground in theatre-making, fashion design and languages. Practice-wise they are interested in narrative comedy writing, dance theatre, journalism, heavy metal vocalisation/textures/poetry, the seductive humour of memes/apps and uncanny folk horror fashion//90s queer-femme sportswear. In 2022, they were nominated for a Green Room award in dance for best ensemble. Also into soccer, non-western lineages of political theory on anticolonial internationalist solidarities, scientific knowledge production and seaweed

Wai-Mun Mah

Wai-Mun Mah is a writer, reader, and aspiring skater.

Chantelle McColl

Chantelle McColl (24) is a writer and editor based in Melbourne, Narrm, who specialises in experimental (and whacky and often surreal) writing and video game analysis. On a lifelong quest to concoct the most bizarre expressions for the simplest of feelings, Chantelle draws on elements of horror, digital media, visual art, postmodernism and feminism to create what maybe is writing. Her work has appeared on ScreenHub Australia, Byteside, Checkpoint Gaming, The AU Review, WellPlayed and Explosion Network. You can find Chantelle’s ramblings on Twitter: @CL_McColl.

Akanksha Agarwal

Akanksha Agarwal is an avid writer of flash fiction, poetry, prose, and on occasion, non-fiction. Words are her medium. Her work has appeared in multiple student-run publications including Farrago Magazine, Inkspot, Sour Cherry Magazine, Chariot Journal, Perspektif, and a small independent press, Gems zine. Her poetry collection has also been featured in the Feminism display at The George Patton Gallery, Melbourne. A psychology student by day, and undercover poet by night, she is often found slaying dragons, exploring castles or unearthing the “human”.

Natalie Williams

Natalie Williams is a creative from Naarm, Melbourne. Their work primarily focuses on identity, queerness, relationships and grief in all its forms. As a writer, filmmaker and co-founder of KOS Magazine, she is passionate about the power that authenticity and lived experiences hold in connecting people together.

Tim Newport

Tim Newport is an award-losing writer and editor originally from Canada (sorry), now living on unceded Wurundjeri land, who is interested in new ways of storytelling through digital, graphic and interactive mediums. Their work has appeared in Time Out Melbourne and Lateral Magazine, and they co-edited Lot’s Wife Magazine. Tim’s graphic short story ‘Table for One’ was nominated for the Lord Mayor’s Creative Writing Awards, and they presented at the National Young Writers Festival. When they’re not playing video games, reading comics or playing ice hockey (sorry again), they’re in your replies @timothy_newport on Twitter and @t-n on Cohost.

Claire Osborn-Li

Claire Osborn-Li is a games writer who lives and works in Naarm/Melbourne. She studied Art History at the University of Melbourne and explores video games through an art theoretical lens. Claire has written for ACMI on the Gallery 5 work, HYPER//ECHO, contributed to GamesHub, ArtsHub and Cordite, and is currently a co-host of ACMI’s Women and Non-Binary Gamers Club. 

Olivia Hodgkins

Olivia Hodgkins is a 20 year old female, living in small regional town on the South Coast of NSW. She is a wide reader and keen writer, having a passion for the arts has seen her take part in many local theatre productions over the years. Storytelling through personal essays, poetry, songs and photography continue to be developed and hopefully, in time published. In 2020, Olivia wrote a screenplay and directed her debut short-film “Breaking Point”. The film explored themes of mental health and featured an original song.

Michelle Guo

Michelle Guo (she/her) is an emerging fashion/art curator, writer and historian. She has a BA (Hons) majoring in Art History and Sociology from University of Melbourne. Her Honour’s thesis critiqued the rise of fashion exhibitions in museum spaces. Michelle uses an interdisciplinary approach in her practice, combining research from across arts and humanities to examine how our relationships to visual culture inform how we interact with it on a personal and systemic level. She is interested in interactions and intersections of art and fashion with high/low culture more broadly. Her work has been published in Memo Review, Verve Zine, Fashion Forward Zine and Fashion and Race Database.



Natalie Bühler

Natalie Bühler is an emerging writer and arts administrator living on unceded Gadigal land in Sydney. She hails from Switzerland, studied in Germany and has worked in cultural institutions across three continents. She works at the Sydney-based organisation Red Room Poetry and incorporates her native Swiss German, which does not have a standardised written form, into her English writing.

Joanna Zou

Joanne is an occasional writer who lives and thinks on Wurundjeri land. They like pop music, all kinds of tea, and the idea of hope.

Grace Hu

Grace is studying a Bachelor of Arts and Laws at the University of Sydney. She has previously written for Honi Soit and Pulp, edited student publications including Yemaya, 1978 and ARNA, and shortlisted USU Verge Awards. Her earlier poems include After a Warm Dry Winter (ARNA) and Gemina Diaboli (Shot Glass Journal). She is a co-writer for Slanted Theatre’s Chain Play. Her interests include dystopia, sociology, modernism, post-modernism and being a dead white man.

Jula Bak

Julia Rose Bąk is a queer, Māori-Polish writer and organiser who grew up in Boorloo and now resides in Narrm. Julia’s writing touches on themes such as care, access, interdependence, collective healing and collective liberation, as well as their experience growing up with a chronic illness. Julia is a 2022 Hot Desk Fellow and their work can be read in Overland, Bitch, Archer, and others.

Jack Alexander Theodoulou

Hi! I’m Jack Alexander – poet, novelist, teacher, rapper. I’ve spent the past few years teaching high school English, and now I’m in the process of turning my passions (writing and performance) into my career. Like most artists, I channel my emotional experience and observations of the world into digestible pieces of writing; I love drama, rhythm, imagery, and I’ve got a farily spiritual bent, so you’re likely to find all of that in my work. Ultimately, if I can write something that sticks with you, then I’m happy, and the world goes round. I’m currently working on a trilogy of fantasy novels; a spiritual, conceptual rap album; an experimental fantasty, narrative album; and of course, I write a bunch of poetry! And my biggest inspirations: Shakespeare, Kendrick Lamar, Cormac McCarthy, Homer, and Nina Simone. Take that combo to the bank.

Eli Rooke

Eli Rooke (they/them) is a queer, trans poet with a love for stories that embrace identity and the human condition. They can usually be found playing god with original worlds and characters – and compiling way too many playlists for them. They have a passion for collaborative storytelling, and believe the best stories are the ones created with others. Eli is currently obsessed with Arkham Horror, and is creating a campaign that centres queerness and love at the end of the world. You can read and keep up to date with their work here: https://linktr.ee/eli.rooke

Amy Matthews

I am currently completing my honours degree in literature at Deakin and like to write creatively in my spare time. I mostly write poetry and personal essays but enjoy exploring different genres and forms.

Ruby Davis

Ruby Davis (she/her) is a Naarm based writer. She graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2019 with a BFA Screenwriting. She is the current editor of online journal Sour Cherry Mag and has been published in Demure Mag. Ruby was the 2019 recipient of the VCA Australian Writers’ Guild Mentorship Award. 

Gabi Cadenhead

Gabi Cadenhead is a poet and composer living on unceded Gadigal/Wangal land. Their creative practice is one of intersections – between story and sound; between performance and protest; between queer bodies, feminism and the sacred. They hold a Bachelor of Music Studies (Composition) and Bachelor of Arts (English and Studies in Religion) from the University of Sydney. Gabi’s poetry has been published in a variety of student literary journals, and their journalistic writing is regularly published in Insights Magazine. Through their work with Christian Students Uniting, they enjoy facilitating workshops and providing safe spaces for people who don’t consider themselves “creative” to banish their inner critic. Gabi is also a founding member of Konzertprojekt new music collective, curating live and online music events with their composer colleagues. They are currently working toward their first poetry manuscript.

Tayla Richardson

Tayla is a disability and rare disease advocate and writer, based on Wurundjeri Land in Melbourne. Through her poetry and non fiction prose, she enjoys exploring themes such as purpose, grief, identity, connection and belonging, drawing on her lived experience with a progressive disease and disability. She has written for HireUp and a self portrait piece for an online exhibition at Bunjil place. Tayla was a speaker at the 2022 Melbourne disability expo and a virtual event for rare disease day, and is a Muscular Dystrophy Australia ambassador. When not writing, you will find her curled up with her three dogs, watching Netflix or listening to a podcast with a cup of tea, with friends at a cafe or enjoying a live theatre show.



Express Media are grateful to Australian Poetry for funding the Poetry component of this program