Doctor of Arts in Creative Writing - Members

Irish Monastery


Ian David graduated from AFTRS in 1984, majoring in writing and direction. His produced work includes Palace of Dreams (1986), Police State (1988), Joh’s Jury (1993), Blue Murder (1995), Bad Cop, Bad Cop (2002), Shark Net (2004), 3 Act of Murder (2010) and Killing Time (2011). He has been a recipient of every major Australian industry writing award, including the AFI, LOGIE, ATOM, Henry Lawson and AWGIE awards. In 1996 he received a NSW Premier’s Award. In 1997 he delivered the MacPherson Memorial Lecture at the Sydney Film Festival. In 2001 he received the AFI’s Byron Kennedy Award. He has represented Australia at UNESCO conferences on cultural diversity and in 2001 received a Centenary Medal for services to Australian society and film production. In 2011 he received the Richard Lane Award for outstanding service and dedication to the Australian Writers’ Guild. Ian’s thesis (for his Doctor of Arts) concerns the significance of collective dreams as they were influenced by the more likely role played by Lee Harvey Oswald in American history.

Play excerpt (from Sudden Passion):


DIRK Wilson (31) and his wife, AMY Wilson (37), are making Christmas decorations from purple tinsel.

Purple is so pure.

It’s not pure.

It’s the colour of violent emotion.

Like something between life and death. It’s bruised. It’s regal. It’s never pure.

A thunderous crash assaults them, winding their senses. One of the windows has exploded and there on the floor is a swan. Blood spattered. Wet and very dead.


IBSEN (44) and WILL (19) wade through a swamp. They’ve been drinking. Life contains no joy.

I ate at Woody’s.

This swamp stinks… and it’s not the swamp.

I’m not sorry. Not one bit. I love eating deer hearts.

A swan circles and IBSEN lifts his gun.

I hate Dirk Wilson. I hated him in school.

IBSEN takes aim.

He wouldn’t like you seeing his wife, I can understand that.

I wasn’t seeing her. I was making love to her.

He should’ve belted you, got it over and done with. Now, it’s a feud. Can there be anything more stupid?

The swan touches down to take a load of lead in the neck and crop. She’ll fly no more.


IBSEN and WILL stand outside the house in the shadows, looking at DIRK and AMY working at their kitchen table.

IBSEN gives his assent with a grunt and WILL edges forward, dragging the swan by the neck.

Inside, AMY lifts her sparkling purple decoration, twirling it, enchanted like a child.

WILL lifts the swan above his head and hurls it at the window.

In a world of suspicion there is no innocence. In such a world what we are told has not happened and that which has happened is not to be told.

Toby Fitch


Toby Fitch was born in London and raised in Sydney. His first full-length collection of poems Rawshock was published with Puncher & Wattmann, 2012, while a chapbook Everyday Static came out with Vagabond Press, 2010. He was shortlisted for the Peter Porter Poetry Prize in 2012 and has published poems in anthologies, newspapers and major journals, nationally and internationally, including Best Australian Poems 2011, Meanjin, The Australian, Cordite, and Drunken Boat. He is poetry reviews editor for Southerly journal and is a doctoral candidate at Sydney University. Rawshock can be ordered through Gleebooks or from's poems appear occasionally on his blog: To read a poem written during Toby's candidature at Sydney University, go to:

Aashish Kaul


Aashish Kaul’s fiction and essays have appeared in several publications in the United States and Australia, most recently in The Quarterly Conversation. He will be speaking at the upcoming Australia-India Literatures International Forum, 3-6 September 2012, at the State Library of NSW, Sydney. He is currently also tutoring the Australian Writing in Postmodern Age course in the English Department.

Roberta Lowing


Roberta’s first poetry collection was Ruin (Interactive Press, 2010), a sequence in four voices on the Iraq War. It was co-winner of the 2011 Asher Literary Award. Roberta’s first novel, Notorious (Allen & Unwin, 2010) was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards 2011 and the Commonwealth Book Prize 2011. Roberta’s poetry has appeared in Meanjin, Blue Dog, Overland and The Best Australian Poems 2010 and 2011. Since 2006, she has convened Sydney’s monthly PoetryUnLimitedPress Poetry Readings in Glebe, Sydney. From 1986 to 2009, Roberta was full-time film reviewer for The Sun-Herald newspaper and contributor to The Sunday Age. In 2006, Fairfax Books published a collection of her reviews. She also produced and directed 80 episodes of the environmental television program ‘Green Seen’ for Sydney’s Channel 31. Roberta is currently editing her second novel and second collection of poetry, and is writing her third novel for her Doctor of Arts degree. Her thesis will focus on women and landscape in early Australian literature and film (pre-1920). Roberta was a guest speaker at the 2010 and 2011 Sydney Writers Festival and will be appearing at the 2012 Tasmanian Poetry Festival (October 5-7) in Launceston.

POEM (‘In The Laneway’, from Best Australian Poems 2011)
And voices come over the back fences, and the phttt phttt phttt
of the sprinkler throwing out streamers of crystals
past the bleached wooden posts
into the shadows
on the cracked path of the laneway.
The shadows are from the trees in the back yards
– there are no trees in the lane –
only tufts of grass between the cracks
and here and there, a yellow daisy
in the windless half-light. If you stretch your neck
you can just see the lucky people in the back yards.
They laugh in the sunlight, the wind lifts their hair,
their clothes are bright squares of colour.
But the ache in your neck means
you cannot strain for long; you drop back
to the hot dirt and look through the shadows
to where the lane rises into a darkness you’ve never noticed.
You walk past the yards, past entire lives lived
while you were sleeping, toward the slow murmur of the others
at the end of the laneway. But everyone who matters
is further ahead or hasn’t arrived. And you wonder,
Was all that writing about the dead a game? As the last crystal drop
disappears without a trace in the dirt at your feet, was it real
or was it a dream?

You wonder, Is the dirt at your feet real? The last crystal drop
disappearing without a trace must be a dream. Maybe
while you were sleeping, everyone who mattered
arrived and went further ahead.
If you walk past the slow murmur from the back yards,
you will surely find the others at the end of the laneway
beyond the rise where the shadows drop into darkness.
You cannot be bothered straining to look into the lives
of the people in their hot back yards: many will be sleeping. Why
stretch your luck when the world here has so many bright squares
of colour: tufts of grass, a yellow daisy. It is odd
the way the dappled shadows shift across the cracks:
there are no trees in the lane.
The windless half-light lies down
on the cracked path. And the stream of pale crystals that wet
the bleached wood posts are unstrung in the laneway. They fall
and are still as the sprinkler goes phttt … pht… tt … ph …t … t
and the voices over the back fences stop.


The manuscript for Frank Russo’s novel Eating for the Dead was short-listed for the Vogel/The Australian Literary Prize, a Varuna Publishers Fellowship and won first prize in the Dante Alighieri Fiction Prize. His novel manuscript, The Summer Jesus began to walk, was commended for the Vogel/The Australian Literary Prize and short-listed for a Penguin Varuna Scholarship. His writing has been published in The Weekend Australian, Southerly, Transnational Literature, Blue Crow, various anthologies in Australia and overseas, and broadcast on radio. He has a Master of Arts and degrees in Arts and Law.

Stephen Sewell


Over the past 30 years, Stephen Sewell’s plays including the multi-award-winning Myth, Propaganda and Disaster in Nazi Germany and Contemporary America have been performed nationally and internationally. In addition to winning an Australian Film Institute Award for his screenplay of The Boys, Stephen has won all the major Australian Theatre Awards, such as the NSW and Victorian Premier's Literary Awards and the Victorian Green Room Award. Stephen has published two novels, is working on two more and is about to direct a feature film based on his novel, Babylon. Stephen is also the former Chair of the Australian National Playwrights Centre.

FICTION EXCERPT (Swimming Through An Imaginary Forest)

The forest itself need not be imaginary. Just imagine it. Imagine it as somewhere you know, familiar, but somehow different. There are trees, let’s say pines. Pine cones and pine needles cover the floor and high above a curtain is caught – a window curtain, or perhaps a shower curtain - waving in the current rippling overhead carrying a swirling torrent of debris from far away – soup cans, pots and pans, a lettuce – a whole house floats past with a mother and father standing in the doorway, waving, as gently and mysteriously you let yourself go and pushing out into the stream you begin to swim, allowing yourself to be caught in the torrent and swept along, moving effortlessly, your body flowing with the water, brushing through the bracken and undergrowth of the forest that rests so quietly beneath the acres of water that now rise strange and triumphant above it. You open your eyes, for your eyes have so far only been closed as you imagined the scene before you but now is even more vivid, more overwhelming in its silent majesty, for silent it is, except for the dull, distant rumble of rocks and boulders being dislodged and rolled bumping along the floor after you, for nothing is still, everything is movement, from the tree trunks waving backwards and forwards like reeds in the flow to the long languid vines caught in their branches now streaming like quietly fluttering flags as the flood surges on carrying everything before it and you yourself now realise you are no longer swimming but simply being dragged along amidst the puffs of sand and soil rising from far below, shooting about you as you twist and somersault in the swirling eddies and all is caught in the dizzying rush of the flood sweeping on, dragging everything with it, pine cones and trees, needles, rocks, vines, the world is rushing past, swirling like a cauldron and reaching out you grab a silver spoon that has your name on it and suddenly you remember that everything you ever thought or did is written somewhere in your mind and that is who you are and now it’s being torn out page by page and mixed with everything else in this tumult because you are no different to anything else, a leaf being blown through time and what you thought was your effort and freedom really belonged to something else and all you were doing was being swept along and then you open your eyes again and you see the forest anew, and it is as it should be, with trees upright and needles sprinkled across the sandy soil and a small stream babbling past and it was all a dream, and then you wonder who is the dreamer, you or the forest; and you wonder which was the dream, this, or the torrent you can again hear rising.

Christine Townend


Christine Townend has had poetry, short stories, articles, and seven books published. Her first novel The Beginning of Everything and the End of Everything Else (Macmillan, 1974) is now studied as a fore-runner of Australian feminist literature, and has recently been re-published on-line by Macmillan, along with her biography, Christine’s Ark (Macmillan 2007) written by journalist John Little. As founder of Animal Liberation in Australia, and co-founder, with Peter Singer, of Animals Australia (1980) she has spoken and campaigned about animal rights issues both in Australia and internationally. In 1990 she became managing trustee of Help in Suffering Animal Shelter, based in Jaipur, Rajasthan. Due to the anti-rabies programme the shelter conducted among the street dogs, Jaipur became the first city of India to be rabies-free. Christine and her husband later founded two more animal shelters in Darjeeling and Kalimpong, West Bengal. Christine is also an artist, having held four solo art exhibitions

1981 Appointed to NSW State Government Animal Welfare Advisory Council
1983 Australian Institute of Political Science Prize for Politics
1985 Appointed to CSIRO Advisory Committee on the Ethics of Animals in Research
1986 Honours Degree (Second Class) in Politics Macquarie University
1996 Awarded Marchig Trust Award for ‘spearheading the Animal Liberation Movement in Australia and establishing several animal shelters in India.’
2007 Kindness Trust Medal for animal protection work in India and Australia

The Beginning of Everything and the End of Everything Else, Macmillan, l974.
Travels with Myself, Wild & Woolley,l976
In Defence of Living Things, Wentworth Press, l979.
A Voice for the Animals, Kangaroo Press, l981
Pulling the Wool, Hale & Iremonger, l985.
The Hidden Master, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 2002.
Le Maitre Cache: Lotus D’Or, France, 2005
L-Enseignement de Vimala Thakar, Lotus D’Or, France, 2006
Animal Stories, Prakri Barti Academy, Jaipur, 2006
.Christine’s Ark, biography, author John Little, Macmillan, Sydney, 2006
The Teaching of Vimala Thakar, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 2010

Memoir: Leaving India
Novel: Moti, An Indian Elephant.