Award-winning Australian poet Mitchell Welch channelled his obsession with words through a Master of Arts in Writing with Swinburne Online. He is an independent consultant specialising in organisational storytelling for non-profit and government agencies with unique stories to tell, as well as a certified Communications Management Professional, a creative writer, and the Secretary of IABC Victoria.
Award-winning Australian poet Mitchell Welch
“In the Master of Arts (Writing), nearly every interaction with teachers and fellow students involves writing – not just long-form essays and creative work, but weekly posts and reading reflections. Every week I challenged myself to write quicker, sharper, more expressively, and I draw on these skills in both my creative and professional writing to this day.
During my studies I was encouraged to publish my work and make connections in the Australian literary community. Since graduating I have published in journals including Antipodes, Arena, the Australian Poetry Journal, Cordite, Meanjin, the Medical Journal of Australia, N-Scribe, Overland, Rabbit, Short Fiction Journal, and Southerly, as well as numerous anthologies. I also wrote and narrated Modern Cons on ABC Radio National, and have been shortlisted or highly commended for a number of poetry prizes.
In 2013 I was runner-up in the Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize, and in 2015 I won the Fair Australia Prize for Poetry and was awarded an Australia Council Artstart Grant. This recognition led to a range of opportunities, and I spent the next six years as an editorial assistant at Overland reading poetry submissions and contributing reviews and editorial content.
Swinburne also provided opportunities, most notably via an Australian Prime Ministers Centre scholarship I applied for via Swinburne Scholarships. As part of the scholarship opportunity, I spent seven weeks in residence at Old Parliament House in Canberra researching poetry written by those in power – from world leaders like Mao Tse Dong, Josef Stalin and Jimmy Carter to Aussie poet-politicians like Robert Menzies, Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Turnbull.
“Swinburne also provided opportunities, most notably via an Australian Prime Ministers Centre scholarship I applied for via Swinburne Scholarships.”
I published my research in The Australian Poetry Journal, and subsequently delivered lectures and seminars at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne, Old Parliament House in Canberra and Curtin University in Perth. In doing so I inadvertently unleashed Queensland billionaire Clive Palmer’s long-dormant poetry on the world, and for this I can only apologise.
During my studies I learned that poetry is a habit that afflicts the obsessive, and obsessions are nothing if not time-consuming. Inspiration is elusive at the best of times, and altogether evasive when competing priorities are afoot. My primary goal since graduation has been to carve out a career that provides time and headspace for writing, and the flexibility required to meet the muses on their schedule.
Studying at Swinburne gave me the flexibility to study part time while working, and also to increase my course load when appropriate to accelerate my studies. This allowed me the flexibility to hold down a job answering phones at The Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust in Melbourne. It was challenging work, but helping families in their time of need was immensely rewarding.
“Studying at Swinburne gave me the flexibility to study part time while working, and also to increase my course load when appropriate to accelerate my studies.”
After graduating, I joined the communications team, and was later appointed Manager Strategic Communications. It was an immense privilege to be the custodian of well over a million stories writ in stone across 21 cemeteries. During my seven years at the Trust, my formal training as a professional writer, combined with my poetic sense and ability to ‘think like a writer’, proved invaluable for working in both a complex organisation, and an incredibly sensitive communications environment.
In 2021 I left the organisation to become an independent communications consultant, working fewer hours, keeping my own schedule, and devoting more time to researching, writing and editing my next creative projects.
My work was most recently featured in Groundswell, an anthology of prize-winning poems from the Judith Wright Poetry Prize, and is forthcoming in the next issue of Text. I lately completed a poetry manuscript reflecting on my time as a fixture in the Victorian cemetery landscape.”