Rebecca Jessen



New poem in Cordite 88: TRANSQUEER + 2019 Pushcart Prize nomination

I’m thrilled to have a new poem in the TRANSQUEER issue of Cordite, my thanks to the editors (and two of my favourite people/poets) Stuart Barnes and Quinn Eades. The lineup for this issue is incredible, I encourage reading front to back, and then back again!

You can read my poem ‘sillage’ here. This is the first time I’ve (successfully) written a love poem, and I’m pretty stoked to see it sharing digital space with some of my other favourite poets, including Eileen Myles (!), Rae White, Alison Whittaker, Jill Jones, Zenobia Frost, RA Briggs.

Click through and read the entire issue, it’s worth it.

While you’re there check out the poem by Mark Ward, editor of LGBTQ+ online journal Impossible Archetype. My special thanks to Mark for nominating my poem ‘The Weekly’ (published in Issue 4 of Impossible Archetype) for a 2019 Pushcart Prize!! I’m incredibly humbled and thrilled by this nomination. Congratulations to the other Impossible Archetype contributors also nominated: Travis Lau, Emily Holland, Yakov Azriel, SP Mulroy, and Austin Yu.




New poems in 2018 Australian Poetry Anthology and Impossible Archetype

It’s been a good year for poetry publishing! I have two new poems out this month. My cento ‘after-images’ after Dorothy Porter was recently published in the 2018 Australian Poetry Anthology, with thanks to the editors Jill Jones and Bella Li for picking it up. The anthology is a comprehensive survey of what has been published in Australian poetry this year. You can grab your copy here.

I also made my international debut recently, with my poem ‘The Weekly’ getting published in queer poetry journal Impossible Archetype. Once again, happy to share the poetry pages with the always lovely Stuart Barnes.

Edited by Mark Ward, Impossible Archetype is a fantastic collection of diverse and exciting poetry by queer writers from all over. All issues are free so be sure to check out the back-catalogue and considering sharing with friends and fellow poets to support the journal.

Stay tuned for some more poetry publishing news from yours truly very soon!

Upcoming Festival Appearances

Let me tell you about some of the exciting events I have coming up in the next 6 weeks. Firstly, I will be appearing at two events at the Queensland Poetry Festival and I’m so thrilled to not only be a part of the festival again, but to be sharing the stage with so many brilliant poets whom I admire and respect. The event details are below, stay tuned next week for a more detailed post on some of the (many) other QPF events I’m super excited for!

Queensland Poetry Festival: Saturday August 25, 12.30-1.30pm
Radical Imagination:
panel with RA Briggs, Alison Whittaker, and Tricia Dearborn
Is a better new world made more likely by having imagined its existence? Can utopian dreaming help us write into the future rather than against it? In the context of queer utopias, Bec Jessen leads this exploration of imagination as a radical act of healing.

Queensland Poetry Festival: Sunday August 26, 12-12.30pm
The Bachelorette: A Song Cycle: performance with Zenobia Frost
She’s just a girl in Uggs, standing in front of 22 men, asking them to love her. Rebecca Jessen and Zenobia Frost perform their 12-poem epic charting the highs and lows of Sophie Monk’s experience on The Bachelorette 2017. Who really pissed in Jarrod’s pot plant? Was Bardot’s hit Poison referring to toxic masculinity? Who wears the giraffe onesie when you airdrop a dad-millionaire? Watch what happens when two queer poets spend weeks tethering WiFi off their phones to watch a bunch of straight men play to win a woman’s heart. Bring a sick bag.

It’s definitely festival season in Brisbane. I will also be appearing at the Brisbane Writers Festival with esteemed Brisbanites Shastra Deo and Zenobia Frost. We will be on a panel talking all things poetry, the future, and possibly burgers.

Brisbane Writers Festival: Sunday September 9, 10-11am
The Dark and The Light: panel with Shastra Deo, and Zenobia Frost
Three of Brisbane’s leading poets bring to light the contrasting moods in each other’s works. Inspirational, complex, dark, and also vibrant and light, these artists share their insights.

Finally, to round off a busy 6 weeks, I’ll be appearing at the National Young Writers Festival in Newcastle at the end of September. This will be my first time as an artist and attendee of the festival and I cannot wait to spend the weekend by the beach, amongst an amazing bunch of writers. Stay tuned for details of my events after the official program launch on August 31.

National Young Writers Festival: Thursday September 27 – Sunday September 30

Hope to see some of you there!

Reading at ‘Saturdays with Jean Arthur’

I’m happy to report that I’ll be reading some poems at the final ‘Saturdays‘ of the year, this coming Saturday 21st July. It’s always great to see new poetry events popping up in Brisbane (we haven’t yet reached peak poetry). I will be reading alongside the fabulous Raelee Lancaster, Bonny Cassidy, and Anthony Lawrence. The event starts at 2.30pm at the fabulous Can You Keep A Secret? bar in Woolloongabba.  Hope to see you there!

New poem in Rabbit Poetry Journal 24: LGBTQIA+

I’m thrilled to have a poem in the LGBTQIA+ issue of Rabbit Poetry Journal, guest-edited by Michael Farrell. My poem ‘Vote Yes to Pineapple on Pizza’ is a found poem, compiled using media clippings from last year’s horrific postal-survey black hole. Writing this poem allowed me a small but necessary opportunity to take back control over some of the destructive narrative being spun about queer lives, and I’m particularly grateful that it found a home amongst the work of some of my favourite people and poets. There are poems in this issue by: Rae White, Stuart Barnes, Zenobia Frost, Jarad Bruinstroop, Quinn Eades, Jill Jones and so many more!

The issue is a wonderful survey of some of our most exciting up and coming, emerging, established, and all the in-between, queer voices. Go buy a copy and read it cover to cover and then urge someone else to do the same.



New poems in Verity La and Stylus Lit

It has been a productive start to the publishing year with two poems published in the past weeks, and two poems forthcoming in Woolf Pack #10 and Rabbit Poetry Journal LGBTQ+ issue.

The wonderful people at Verity La published my poem ‘Triage’ as part of their incredible Clozapine Clinic, and I got my first publication in Stylus Lit with my poem ‘time-lapse’. I’m thrilled to be sharing pages in these wonderful journals with some of my favourite people and poets, including Shastra Deo, and Stuart Barnes. Make sure you check out the rest of the wonderful poetry on offer while you’re there too!

In Summary: 2017 Publications

2017 was my most productive writing year to date, and thanks to some intensely focused study I now have more than half of my next poetry collection written, here’s hoping 2018 proves just as prolific! Below is a list of my publications in 2017:

Cordite Poetry Review: ‘(after)HER: dating app adventures’
Pressure Gauge Press: ‘when I am first social without you’
The Lifted Brow: ‘We’re All Going on a Summer Holiday’ + ‘Summer Holiday Mixtape’ The Suburban Review: ‘This Is What Makes Us’
Tincture Journal: ‘Some Days’
Verity La: ‘Hello Dolly’

DWF and Chill


The Digital Writers Festival is a fine example of the Internet using its powers for good and not evil. The festival wrapped up last Friday night, and I had the pleasure of reading some poems in the closing night event: Manifest. The session was a fitting end to the festival, laced with equal amounts of hope–and, I think–despair at our current situation. As Izzy Roberts-Orr (Artistic Director) pointed out, it takes a balance of these two states of consciousness to be able to envision a future that feels tangible and achievable. It was a brilliant session, and each writer brought an original and personal take to the theme. You can watch the session in its entirety here.

The fact that the festival is predominantly held online means it’s accessible to a much larger audience than if it were only in person. For me it meant that my family who live interstate were able to tune in and watch me read some poems (and also send me bad screenshots of myself during the session). Being online, it also means that people (with Internet access) who otherwise might not be able to afford to attend a festival don’t miss out, it also means that people with physical/mental health issues can still participate in the festival. As someone who regularly struggles to leave the house (especially to attend social gatherings), this concept appeals to me majorly!

There were so many brilliant sessions at this year’s DWF I couldn’t possibly talk about them all but below are a few highlights from the sessions I’ve watched so far. I know there will be a lot more DWF and chill in my near future though.

Get YA Words Out: This was a brilliant and important session talking all things queer Aus YA. One of the panelists, Jordi Kerr brilliantly summed up everything I have ever felt about how necessary it is for queer writers to have a platform to write and publish queer stories: ‘If you can’t see yourself, you can’t see a future for yourself’. This rings true for my entire adolescence, both on and off the page. These conversations are crucial to the continued development of queer literature in Aus. I’m going to be directing people to this session for as long as it exists on the internet. Also check out the Get YA Words Out website for a great list of resources on QueerAusYA.

Online Lit collectives – Subbed In & Sponge: A great mashup of readings from two lit collectives publishing brilliantly diverse writing (more please). My personal faves were poetry from Emily Crocker ‘while a woman watches us not touch her Mazda 4’ and Allison Gallagher ‘I am tired of feeling broken by language. Having a body is exhausting’ and ‘I keep seeing women who are stoic and unavailable and being like please ruin my life already.’ So much yes, to all of this! Allison’s book is already in the mail and I’m going to have to go back on the website and buy Emily’s and Aisyah’s now too! Do the same, and get yourself a neat bin chicken accessory while you’re at it!

No Chill: This was one of my favourite sessions, a conversation between Madison Griffiths and Lucinda Price about what it’s like to be an artist, a woman, and someone with mental illness while creating on the internet. There’s so much to love in this session, but my favourite thing was the very honest and open conversation they had about mental illness; especially the breaking down of the myth that being mentally ill makes you super productive and creative. This is a pervasive and damaging myth and I’m glad to see artists talking about it more and more. It’s alarming to me, the number of artists I meet who live with mental health issues, and I know for myself these have never positively contributed to my creative output, but have only ever been a barrier to Getting Shit Done. Madison and Lucinda have the best dynamic, can someone give them their own show please?!

QUT Lit Salon – DWF Edition: This was a live event held at QUT in Brisbane (home to my soul). This year I’ve had the pleasure of attending many QUT Lit Salons and they are always quality. The special DWF and 5 year Lit Salon anniversary edition had a dream lineup featuring QUT all stars Mindy Gill, Alex Philip, Emily O’Grady, Rebecca Cheers, Leo Porter, and Annabelle de Paola. Annabelle’s reading of trolley erotica was a peronsal fave, and something I never knew I needed in my life. Watch it, and then seek out the writing of these Brisbabes!

Missives From The Future: This is technically finished now, but you can still access the archive of fabulously strange stories written during the festival and I highly recommend you do! This is exactly the kind of daily mail I like to receive in my inbox.

Digital Zine Fair: This is such a brilliant concept, the team behind DWF have the best ideas! I love how accessible so much of the festival is, and again, the digital zine fair makes it possible for people to access interesting, exciting and informative resources from the comfort of their wi-fi connection. I haven’t had time to have a proper look at all of the zines, but a shout out to my very talented friend Anna Jacobson for her zine ‘The Adventures of the Outer Chain’. This zine is incredibly relatable and funny and sad. Read it, and the send it to your friends.

Catch me at the Digital Writers Festival!


Look Mum, I’m going live on the Internet! I’m so excited to announce that I’ll be participating in this year’s Digital Writers Festival which will run from October 24-November 3.  You can check out the full program here I can tell you now, it is stellar.

The Digital Writers Festival is a product of the Emerging Writers Festival (also stellar) and it brings together writers from all over Australia and the world to beam brilliant content straight to your screens.

I will be performing at the closing night event ‘Manifest’ on Friday 3rd November along with Winnie Dunn, Jesse Oliver, Piriye Altraide, Ben Walter, and Zhi Yi Cham. The theme couldn’t be more perfectly aligned with my current writing and research interests and I’m excited to see where the other writers go with it.

Tune in on the night and watch/listen to me read some poems about lesbian utopias from the comfort of your own bed! Full event details below:

Friday November 3:
 7pm (AEDT) @ Live-streaming to the world!!

What’s next? It’s a new day rising, and the future is in your hands – what are you going to do with it? Six writers explore alternative futures where the possible has become actual. Ending the festival on a hopeful note, come dream with us as we envision the future – embracing the fact that we cannot know it yet, and we therefore have the power to change it.


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