UNSWeetened Literary Journal

A showcase of UNSW's creative writing.

UNSWeetened doesn't like to sugarcoat anything. Especially not literature.

Published annually since 1998, the journal features an eclectic mix of prose and poetry derived from our university’s diverse mix of students and faculties. It’s a great way to get your work published in print as well as to have your work judged by some of the biggest names in the Sydney writing scene. Now entering its 21st year of creation, the journal has come to be regarded as one of the best student literary prizes and publications in Sydney. 

UNSWeetened 2019 Literary Journal

Get write

Are you an aspiring writer, wordsmith or poet? UNSWeetened literary journal is where UNSW’s creative writing talents are showcased at their best. Submissions now open for poetry, prose & creative writing.

Our theme? Wabi-Sabi - the beauty of imperfection. The journal hopes to capture the magic of a 20th century poet's old beaten and battered coat pocket notebook, mixed with a subdued, relatable modern take. Taking an approach to design that is soft, nuanced, and intimate, it hopes to inspire students to write without the strains of producing a perfect text.

Think - coffee stains, pencil sketches, hand-sewn sweater patches, fading photographs and foggy polaroids, Japanese ceramics and chipped porcelain, natural imprints, marks, wears, tears, scribbles. UNSWeetened hopes to create a sense of comfort, just like the comfort found in the trusty friend that is a writer's journal.

Join us in creating something that is perfectly imperfect. Submissions close 10 JUL, WK6.

Submissions now OPEN.

So...you may be wondering..what does the theme mean for your writing?

Firstly, you should know that the theme is a guide, it is not supposed to constrict your creativity! Feel free to take a different angle, we would love to see writing that approaches the theme of Wabi-Sabi in a way we might not have thought of. In other words, go for it!

Poetry your thing?

Consider the aesthetic cue… Wabi-Sabi design emphasises the beauty of the paired-back and the minimal. In architecture this means an aesthetic of modesty and handsome simplicity. It also means an emphasis on materials. For poets, Wabi-Sabi might mean working with short, simple phrasing. It might mean emphasising the space in between the lines as much as the words themselves.

Keep in mind the philosophical thought behind Wabi-Sabi. Life is short and uncertain, humanity is imperfect, and entropy comes up trumps. Wabi-Sabi makes us consider our imperfection as a matter of course, and as such, in confronting it as a truth, something we might work with to better understand our place in the world.

More into prose?

Again, there is a strong leaning toward language that is constrained, held back in some way. Interestingly, short-form fiction and creative non-fiction might consider how narrative can be shaped by the guidelines of Wabi-Sabi. Does it lend itself to anti-epiphany? It may work in a number of ways for your story.

Remember, Wabi-Sabi is a prompt, it does not need to be a theme in your story; you do not need to be explicit!

Critical writing

This year we are publishing critical essays as well! The challenge here is how a critical essay that does not centre around the notion of wabi-sabi itself might engage with the theme. Again, the writing of the essay itself, the method with which you approach writing, or perhaps the language deployed in expressing your ideas might be a way in.

Are you writing about an artist who works in an aesthetic or conceptual field that enters into a discussion of wabi-sabi? Great, that is enough for us!

Once again, you again take this theme and work with it in whatever way you feel is fit and interesting. What we are looking for is great work that engages with the theme in a creative way; that might be as we expected it to be, or it might be something entirely left of field.

Meet the Team

Meet the 2019 student team!

REVIEW | The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories

BY Jack Zhou (UNSWeetened Editor)

Read here

INTERVIEW | Marina Benjamin

Marina Benjamin is the author behind celebrated works such as, ‘Insomnia’ and ‘The Middlepause’ as well as Senior editor of the digital Magazine Aeon.

Read More

INTERVIEW | Sam Cooney

We chatted to Sam Cooney the publisher behind the independent Australian book press Brow Books and quarterly non-profit literary magazine The Lifted Brow.

Read More


We spoke to Eggshell Skull author, Bri Lee ahead of the Sydney Writer's Festival

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UNSWeetened Short & Sweet Writing Competition T1

Read the winning entries

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Read the 2018 Journal

Read UNSWeetened online

Contact UNSWeetened

UNSWeetened Literary Journal