Negative representations of asylum seekers have been a hallmark of recent political discourse around the world. But re-visiting literary motifs and incorporating these into contemporary poetry potentially helps writers and readers reframe refugee journeys in positive and interesting ways. From Virgil to Keats, the Australian National Anthem to contemporary free verse, poetry demonstrates the courageous quest and hospitality to the stranger as perennially human. Come to hear the ways poetry, old and new, can deliver the narratives that politicians and media can't or won't.


A.Frances Johnson is an award-winning Australian poet and artist, and recipient of the 2017 Australia Council B. R Whiting writing residency in Rome. In Italy, she undertook field trips and volunteer work with refugees to inform a poetry ‘quest project’ critiquing the representational politics of recent global population movements into Europe and Australia. In 2015 she won the prestigious Josephine Ulrick-Griffith University Poetry Prize. Her poetry has appeared in Motherlode: Australian Women’s Poetry 1986–2008 and variously in Best Australian Poems and journals. She has published three books of poetry, The Pallbearer’s Garden (Whitmore Press 2008), The Wind-up Birdman of Moorabool Street (Puncher and Wattmann 2012) and Rendition for Harp and Kalashnikov (forthcoming Puncher and Wattmann 2017). Her novel Eugene’s Falls (Arcadia 2007) retraces the wilderness journeys of famed colonial landscape painter Eugene von Guerard who emigrated to Australia to mine gold after trying his hand as a painter of Italian vedute in Rome and Naples. Neither gold mining nor golden Italian views suited him, but the writer shows how he made the strange landscapes of the new world his own. Her doctoral research examines portrayals of Indigenous peoples in Australian historical novels 1989- 2015.

6:30 PM @Neapoli Wine Bar, 30 Russell Place, Melbourne VIC 3000

Entrance over 18  |  The venue is wheelchair accessible.

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