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Applications for this fellowship have now closed. For more information please contact

Project overview

Over 2.5  days, 12 poets will gather in regional NSW to participate in a holistic poetry retreat with workshops led by guest facilitators, walks, meditation and communal meals.


The in-person poetry retreat has been conceived by Sara Saleh and Zainab Syed as a generative space for Muslim poets to:

  • Sharpen their craft and writing skills in an environment that is both rigorous and tender.

  • Expand knowledge of contemporary and global poetry movements.

  • Reconnect with heritage as Muslims have a rich and beautiful tradition of poetry — this retreat is about preserving and building on them.

  • Explore various formats and genres of poetry, including special sessions on Rumi, Saadi and other Islamic poets.

  • Support a community of local Muslim poets to develop, refine and platform their art.

  • Be grounded in connection with each other and with nature, engaging all senses and somatic energy.

What you also need to know

  • The sessions will be guest facilitated by prominent poets and award-winning writers of varying Muslim backgrounds alongside Sara and Zainab.

  • All logistics relating to the retreat will be organised and covered, including accommodation, meals, materials and fees.

  • This initiative is by and for members of the Muslim community. It is our intention to center Islamic ethics as well as the responsibilities of living and writing on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lands.

  • While the majority of participants will be NSW-based, we encourage inter-staters to apply. A limited bursary may be available to help cover costs of flights. (See ‘Travel’ below for more information.)

  • Due to limited spaces, successful participants will be required to secure their spots with a $50 lock-in fee, which will be returned to them when they complete the retreat. Please talk to us if this is prohibitive.



  • Retreat: Friday 11th August – Sunday 13th August

  • Hybrid Workshops: September – October (exact dates and times to be confirmed)



  • Forgotten Valley Country Retreat: 56 Singleton Road, Wisemans Ferry NSW 2775.


Accommodation and food

  • Provided.



  • We will be traveling together from Sydney.

  • Two bursaries for regional/interstate artists to participate will be available.

  • Email for more information.



  • Muslim poets of any and all backgrounds.

  • Applicants must be available for the entire duration of the in-person retreat, as well as the hybrid workshops.

  • The preference is to stay overnight in accommodation as this is part of the experience, but for those who are unable, please let us know. No one will be turned away for this reason. 

  • Participants must stay in accommodation provided.

  • The best poetry is often the most vulnerable, and we will be exploring a range of themes that may be challenging. Participants have a role to play in ensuring this is an inclusive and nurturing space for everyone.

  • Participants need to be 18 years and over.


To apply

  • Please complete our short Expression of Interest here.

  • The  EOI is a simple questionnaire to enable us to find out about you and your practice.

  • This should only take you 15 minutes.

Deadline and selection process

  • Deadline for completing EOI is 11:59 pm on Monday 10th July 2023.

  • Successful applicants will be notified on Monday 17th July 2023.

  • For more information, please reach out to


About Sara and Zainab

Sara Saleh has run poetry workshops in countless classrooms, community spaces and festivals nationally and internationally. She made history as the first and only Australian poet to win the 2021 Peter Porter and the 2020 Judith Wright Poetry Prizes. Sara’s artistic practice is concerned with ‘own-voice’ representation and providing a range of platforms for artists from marginalised backgrounds to express themselves creatively and holistically. Sara's debut novel is Songs for the Dead and the Living (Affirm Press, 2023) and her debut poetry collection is The Flirtation of Girls (UQP, 2023).

Zainab Syed is a Pakistani-Australian poet and producer whose practice sits at the intersection of social justice and creative expression. Zainab toured across the world presenting while also teaching writing and poetry to incarcerated women in the US, people in detention in Australia and young trauma victims in schools in Pakistan. She started Pakistan’s first national slam, won the WA Slam in 2015 and was a finalist in the Australian National Slam in the same year. Her poetry has been featured in publications in Australia and internationally.



This initiative is funded by Create NSW and Australia Council for the Arts with support from Red Room Poetry and Arab Theatre Studio. Proudly presented by Sweatshop Literacy Movement.

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