SWEATSHOP is run by a collective of devoted Western Sydney arts practitioners and activists, cultural producers, teachers, journalists and award-winning authors. The team includes Director, Michael Mohammed Ahmad; Associate Directors, Tamar Chnorhokian and Peter Polites; and Public Relations Officer, Mariam Chehab.
Michael Mohammed Ahmad founded SWEATSHOP in 2013 as a member of the Western Sydney University Writing and Society Research Centre. He received the 2012 Australia Council Kirk Robson Award for his work in Community Cultural Development in Western Sydney and he won the 2015 Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelists of the Year Award for his debut novel, The Tribe (Giramondo 2014). Mohammed's doctoral research at Western Sydney University is focused on the dominant representations of Arab-Australian Muslim men from Western Sydney and the development of new representations in Arab-Australian autobiographical literature.
Tamar Chnorhokian completed a communications degree in writing and publishing at the Western Sydney University in 2004. Her debut novel is The Diet Starts On Monday (SWEATSHOP 2014) and she has also worked as a columnist, journalist and freelance writer. Tamar identifies strongly with her Western Sydney community and her Armenian background.
Peter Polites is a critical reader and genre writer. His debut novel, Down the Hume, is due for release in 2017 (Hachette). Peter's work is about environmental and economic factors enacting upon the intersecting performance of gender, sexuality and race. He has an interest in noir and autobiography. His worldview can be found in work from authors such as Tariq Ali, Noam Avraam Chomsky and Alexis Wright.
Mariam Chehab is a public relations officer, sub-editor and radio producer. She completed a double degree in journalism and international studies with a sub-major in transnational studies at the University of Technology, Sydney. Mariam is interested in the inner workings of ethnic and religious communities in Sydney, especially in the city's South-West. She has a particular interest in global politics, multiculturalism as well as popular culture. Mariam spent 2013 sharpening her Spanish at the Universidad de La Rioja, Spain.
Amanda Yeo’s stories have been published and performed in Stories of Sydney (SWEATSHOP & Seizure), Westside (Westside Publications), The Last Word (Sydney Festival 2015), and The Voices Project (Australian Theatre for Young People). She is concerned with representations of race, gender and disability and their effect upon marginalised communities. When not writing Amanda plays video games and does law.
Stephen Pham is a writer from Cabramatta and completed a degree in English Literature at the University of New South Wales. He has been published in Overland, The Lifted Brow, and Seizure. Stephen is heavily influenced by the ideas of Paulo Freire and Sara Ahmed. Central to his work is the belief in literature's capacity for dialogue, healing, and empowerment.
Shirley Le is a writer with a degree in Media Studies from Macquarie University. She has previous experience in youth media, working for SBS Vietnamese Radio and [email protected] on programs that engaged young audiences with diverse and empowering personal stories. She was the winner of ZineWest 2014 and has read her work at Studio Stories in Parramatta and 40 Years On in Ashfield. Shirley is still exploring the world of literature and is currently inspired by Zadie Smith.
Monikka Eliah graduated from the University of New South Wales with an Arts degree, majoring in English and minoring in Media. In 2014 her piece was published in the university literary journal Unsweetened. She has worked as a volunteer for the Sydney Writers' Festival and was a speaker at the NSW Writers’ Centre Talking Writing seminar, Refugee Stories. Monikka is interested in the representation of women in text, as well as the social experiences of gender and sexuality.
Winnie Dunn is a Tongan undergraduate currently studying at Western Sydney University. Winnie runs her own blog: [email protected] She has worked with The Red Room Company, has been published in WSU’s Magazine, and has performed for Parramatta Poetry Slam and SubbedIn. Her literary influences include Vladimir Nabokov, Kate Chopin, Franz Kafka, Maxine Hong-Kingston, Italo Calvino, Fernando Pessoa, Virginia Woolf and Adrienne Rich. Winnie believes in social equality, cultural representation in all forms of creative art, and continuous funding for public education.
Jason Gray is a Mauritian-Australian fiction writer who has worked in journalism, television captioning and community support for ten years. He has been published in Seizure and ZineWest and has presented at Studio Stories in Parramatta. Jason hopes to contribute to social change through his writing, his work with SWEATSHOP and his first full-length solo publication.