Cassandra Atherton

Staff member

Cassandra Atherton is an is an international expert on the prose poetry form and an award-winning prose poet. She is co-author of the definitive book on the form—Prose Poetry: An Introduction (Princeton UP, 2020). Her specialization in prose poetry extends to the democratisation of poetry, focusing on poets as public intellectuals, specifically hibakusha poets. Cassandra was a Visiting Scholar in English at Harvard University sponsored by Professor Stephen Greenblatt and has been part of the Harvard University public intellectual symposia. Cassandra has authored and edited over thirty critical and creative books and has been invited to edit twelve special editions of leading refereed journals. Cassandra’s prose poetry has been widely anthologized both nationally and internationally and has been translated into Japanese, Korean and Chinese. She has been awarded the Sanlane prize, a Blanc literary award, the University of California Mary Schroeder award and has been a successful recipient of more than fifteen national and international research grants and teaching awards including, most recently, VicArts grants and Australian Council Grants for her work on atomic bomb poetry and book of poetic biographies of the elderly. She is a sought after interviewer after her widely publicized interviews with American intellectuals such as Harold Bloom, Noam Chomsky, Stephen Greenblatt, Camille Paglia, and Howard Zinn. Cassandra is commissioning editor for Westerly Magazine, Axon: Creative Explorations, and series editor for Spineless Wonders annual microliterature anthologies

  • Research

    Cassandra publishes both traditional research (TROs) and non-traditional research (NTROs).

    Her current projects include the following:



    • A chapter, ‘Australian prose poetry, the verse novel and poetic biography’ with Paul Hetherington in Ann Vickery (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Australian Poetry.
    • A suite of articles on Dark Poetry: ‘Dark Poetry is poetry that attempts to imagine, explore or reanimate a dark event. It is most often an engagement with events associated with death, disaster, tragedy and/or suffering’.
    • A suite of articles on ekphrastic prose poetry with Paul Hetherington, leading to a monograph.



    • Saving Face: The Atomic Bomb Maidens. This book of prose poetry explores the plight of the Hiroshima Maidens with a secondary narrative exploring absence, brokenness, speechlessness, and the atomic sublime.

    This book is supported by an Australia Council Grant.


    • forthcoming 2020. Cassandra Atherton and Jessica L. Wilkinson (eds), Still Here, Poetic Portraits of Older Australians, Hunter Publications, Vic. This book of poetic biographies are co-created with older Australians and Elders.

    This project is supported by an Australia Council Grant and a Creative Victoria Grant.


    • Alcatraz: An International Anthology of the Short Form. Cassandra [and Paul Hetherington] are commissioning poets and microfiction writers from around the world to contribute to this anthology.


  • Publications

    Some of Cassandra’s many publications include:

  • Teaching

    Cassandra teaches Literary Studies and Creative Writing. In Literary Studies she chairs the hugely popular third-year unit Classics and Trash, which features all of Cassandra’s favourite texts including Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Lolita, and popular contemporary texts that change each year according to what is trending. In Creative Writing, Cassandra chairs the unit Designing Fictions, focuses on the differences between literary fiction and popular fiction. Cassandra is particularly invested in microliterature.

  • Supervision

    Cassandra supervises theses in Literary Studies and Creative Writing.

    Areas within Literature Studies include:

    • prose poetry
    • dark poetry
    • canonical texts
    • atomic bomb literature
    • public intellectuals

    In Creative Writing, Cassandra is particular invested in:

    • prose poetry
    • microfiction
    • fictocritical works
    • hybrid works

    Current PhD supervisions

    As principal or co-principal supervisor:

    • David Ryan, Be a Good Sport – Inspiration, Aspiration and Perspiration
    • Darren Cullinane, Internalised Homophobia in Life and Literature
    • Anna Spargo-Ryan, Altered States: Truthful Unreliable Minds in Contemporary Australian Storytelling
    • Heather Brown, Interrogating Postfeminist Female Empowerment in Bestselling Post-millennial Young Adult Literature
    • Eleni Hale, Saving Candice Lee (Fiction)

    As an associate supervisor:

    • Melissa Howard, Instructions for the End of the World
    • Shokoofeh Azar, A Novel in Magic Realism: The Tuba Tree of Our Kitchen
    • Lynette Hinings-Marshall, A life in Pieces: Effects of the Transnational Lifestyle on the Self-identity of Female Expatriates.
    • Claudia Barnett, Perrault’s 17th Century Fairy Tales: Discourses of Disciplinary Punishment
    • Claire Gaskin, Antigone in the Contemporary Public: Claiming Female Poetic Voice
    • Elizabeth Gloster, A Top Bloke: Examining (Toxic) Masculinity in Australian Literature

    Completed PhD supervisions

    As principal or co-principal supervisor:

    • Zoe Dzunko, On the Edge: Tracing the Liminal in Labour Narratives
    • Debra Wain, Keepers of Culture: Women, Food and Writing
    • Rebecca Elizabeth Hutton, Homebirds: Re-conceptualising Music in Young Adult LGBTQ Fiction
    • Libbie Chellew, Uncanny Suburbia and Australian Fiction
    • Ailsa Brackley du Bois, Lost Spaces of Popular Theatrical Entertainment, Ballarat Goldfields, 1850s – 1870s
    • Kristin Henry, Clans and Tribes: Attachment Networks of Older Australian Women
    • Joshua Mark Baird, The Projection of the Son: Unreliable Narration and Masculinity

    As an associate supervisor:

    • Autumn Lace Royal, Poetry and the Elegiac Self: A Creative Thesis with Exegesis
    • Katherine Mary Paine, The Tank: Reimagining the Colonial North
    • Liam Guilar, Anhaga: An Exploration in Poetry of Narrative, Memory and Identity
    • Daniel Joshua Lewis, ‘Dead-Channel’: Writing Cyberpunk
    • Shelley Lee Buerger, Tell Me Something: The Poetics of Maternal Subjectivity
    • Megan Jane Mooney Taylor, Mythmaking and Masculinity in the Fiction of Norman Lindsay
    • Scott Michael Pearce, Hegemonic Masculinity in Transition: The Frontier Myth in Australian Westerns
    • Emma Clare Hayes, The Scarlet Legacy: Representations of the Single Mother
    • Jo-Anne Langdon, Working Title: Magical Realism as Elegy
  • Awards, fellowships, and honours

    • 2018. Faculty of Arts Award for Excellence in Supervision
    • 2016. Visiting Scholar in English at Harvard University
    • 2014. Visiting Fellow in the Institute of Comparative Culture at Sophia University, Tokyo
    • 2014. Sanlane Nonfiction Award
    • 2011. Deakin University Teacher of the Year
    • 2011. WJC Banks Award for Distinguished Contributions Teaching and Learning
    • 2011. Deakin University Vice Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching
    • 2010. Blanc Literary Award for experimental fiction
    • 2010. University of California, Mary Schroeder Award
    • 2008. Felix Meyer Fellowship, Melbourne University
  • Media and public events

Australian Policy
 and History

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