Our list of participants (in alphabetical order) for 2011:
Gregory Day - writer, poet and musician - lives on Victoria's south-west coast. His debut novel The Patron Saint Of Eels (2005) won the prestigious Australian Literature Society Gold Medal in 2006 and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize for a first novel. The sequels, Ron McCoy’s Sea of Diamonds (2007) and The Grand Hotel (2010), have both been much acclaimed, prompting the Sunday Age to describe him as ‘possibly the best nature writer in the country’. His 8 year epic CD of musical settings of W.B.Yeats, The Black Tower, was hailed by the Yeats Society of Ireland as the finest musical interpretation of Yeats ever made. Another of his musical productions is The Flash Road: Scenes from the Building of the Great Ocean Road.
Tess Evans worked in the TAFE system for many years, chiefly in programs for the unemployed, where she met people of all ages and from diverse backgrounds. Some of her short stories and poetry have been successful in competitions. For the last three years, she has concentrated on her novels. Her first novel, Book of Lost Threads, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2010, and her second, 'The Memory Tree', is in the process of editing for publication next year.
Tess is an avid reader, keen walker, enthusiastic traveller and sporadic gardener. She lives in Greensborough with her husband, and has three children and four grandchildren.
Diana Georgeff is a Melbourne journalist who has lived and worked in Europe, Australia and the USA for ACP, the National Times and the ABC. She has specialised in politics, social issues and cultural history.
Diana Georgef is the author of the aptly-named 'Delinquent Angel', a biography of the poet Shelton Lea. Lea was adopted in the most bizarre circumstances into a high profile family. Growing up he was told he would never inherit the family fortune; that he had been adopted as a playmate for the natural children. Then began a life of extremes and excesses. The book was well reviewed on its release in 2007 - 'The material Georgeff uncovers and then writes about with such calm controlled prose delivers a terrible punch,' Angela Bennie, Sydney Morning Herald. Diana is currently working on her first fiction.
Rosalie Ham was born and raised in the NSW Riverina and now lives in Victoria. After travelling and working at a variety of jobs, she studied drama and literature before taking up writing seriously. She wrote stage and radio plays which were performed in Melbourne. Her first novel, The Dressmaker, about communities and the ideas of tolerance and acceptance, was published in 2000. Her second novel, Summer at Mount Hope, came out in 2005. Her latest work, There Should be More Dancing, will be published by Random House in July. Rosalie has also had stories published in Meanjin, The Age, The Bulletin and Invisible Ink. When she is not writing, Rosalie teaches literature.
Jodie Honan has lived on the south-west Victorian coast for over 40 years, and worked as hand knitter, milk laboratory technician, floristry assistant, caravan cleaner, park ranger, university lecturer, tour guide, freelance researcher and biodiversity officer. She has planted thousands of trees with hundreds of students and lobbied to protect landscapes and natural values. Jodie has studied aquatic science, visual arts, writing and education. Her recent writing focuses on people and the rest of nature, and includes: A Natural History of Port Fairy and District (2009), and Yambuk Lake, Yambuk People: Stories of Yambuk Lake and the Catchments of Eumeralla and Shaw Rivers (with Peter Condon, 2008). ‘Jodie Honan tells a tremendous story - entertaining, informative and superbly written.’ Paul Burman.
Poet Andy Jackson lives in Melbourne and is Library Co-ordinator at the Australian Poetry Centre, where he was instrumental in getting the Poetry Omnibus, a mobile poetry library, off the ground. His poetry, exploring the body, identity and marginality has been published in a variety of print and on-line journals. Andy has received grants from the Australia Council and Arts Victoria, and a mentorship from the Australian Society of Authors. He has featured at events such as Australian Poetry Festival, Queensland Poetry Festival, Newcastle Young Writers Festival and Overload Poetry Festival. He was awarded the Rosemary Dobson Prize for Poetry in 2008. His collaborative performance with puppeteer Rachael Guy and cellist David Churchill was awarded the City of Yarra Award for Most Innovative Work at the 2009 Overload Poetry Festival. His most recent collection of poems, Among the Regulars, was published in 2010.
Roland Perry AOM began his writing career as a journalist at The Age. He has published 24 books, both fiction and non-fiction (biography, politics, sport, war), including many best sellers. His biography of Sir John Monash, Monash: The Outsider Who Won a War, won the 2004 FAW National Literary Award for non-fiction, and that of Keith Miller was awarded Cricket Biography of the Year  by the UK Cricket Society. Other biographical subjects include communist journalist Wilfred Burchett, British espionage agent Victor Rothschild, actor Mel Gibson and the definitive work on Sir Donald Bradman. Perry’s political books include Hidden Power about the election and Presidency of Ronald Reagan. His latest book is The Changi Brownlow.
Poet Max Richards left New Zealand at 25, studied in Scotland, and settled in Melbourne as a tertiary teacher of English, specialising in poetry. He has also taught fiction and life-writing, most recently at Manningham Arts Centre.
His poems touch lightly on experiences in places he is in or remembers. Richards' first book was Under Mount Egmont, and the most recent, Catch of the Day. Walking his dogs in Ruffey Lake Park, Doncaster, has inspired many poems. His new collection, Ruffey, Nearby, and Beyond, is in preparation. He is a frequent visitor to Port Fairy, especially during Folk Festival, about which he has written a sizeable poem which he will present at the Festival of Words.
Dr Robyn Rowland AO is an Honorary Fellow, School of Culture & Communication, University of Melbourne, previously Professor of Social Inquiry at Deakin University. She has published nine books, six of them poetry. In 2010 she released a CD, Silver Leaving: Poems with Harp as well as another volume of poetry, Seasons of Doubt and Burning. Robyn has regularly visited Ireland since 1983 and lived there for extended periods (2001-2 funded by Arts Victoria). Her work has been described as 'generous and passionate'. Following an Irish tradition, her work encompasses the moments in life for which we need words; words to act as rituals. Her themes include 'incompleteness, the unfinished edges of human love' (Barrett Reid), death in its many forms; breast cancer and depression; language and silence; spiritual life. Actor John Nettles (Midsomer Murders, Bergerac) named her 'among the first rank of poets'. He was impressed 'by her use of language, control of verse and wonderful delivery'. The poetry is 'extraordinarily moving' with 'a control of language I haven’t come across since, well, TS Eliot. Like Dylan Thomas and Betjeman, you have to hear her yourself. She is the voice'.
Jane Sullivan worked as a journalist for many years with the Melbourne Age as staff reporter, feature writer and editor of various sections, including the Books pages. She reported from Africa and China and won the inaugural Australian Human Rights award for journalism. She is now a novelist and a freelance writer for newspapers and magazines, specialising in literary journalism.
Jane has always been besotted with books and her first love is writing fiction. Her first novel, The White Star, was published in 2000 by Penguin. Her second, Little People, was published this year by Scribe Publications. This gripping historical novel, a fantastical tale of intrigue and showtime glamour, has all the colour and flair of the circus, complete with sideshows starring the little people themselves.
Jane still writes a column on books and writing, Turning Pages, for The Saturday Age, and contributes occasional features. Jane was born in London of Australian parents and came to live in Melbourne in 1979, where she now lives with her husband and teenage son.
Jane is sponsored at the Port Fairy Festival of Words by the Victorian Writers Centre. She will give a two hour workshop on Writing Historical Fiction.