AustLit logo
image of person or book cover 4135994937602867358.jpg
Photo by Nicola Bailey
Michelle Cahill Michelle Cahill i(A5849 works by)
Also writes as: Michelle Carter
Born: Established: 1964 ;
Gender: Female
Heritage: Indian
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.


Michelle Cahill is a Goan-Anglo-Indian writer. She spent her childhood in Kenya and the United Kingdom before migrating to Australia. A Sydney resident, she graduated from the University of Sydney in Medicine and has worked as a part-time General Practitioner. In 2020, she completed her Doctorate of Creative Writing at the University of Wollongong.

Cahill's poetry has been published in journals in Australia, the USA and the United Kingdom as well as in numerous online journals and her essays have been published in Sydney Review of Books, The Weekend Australian, Southerly and Australian Women Writers. Cahill's short story 'Duende' won the 2014 Kingston Writing School Hilary Mantel International Short Story Competition, worth £3000 and judged by Hilary Mantel. She was shortlisted in the Wasafari New Writing Prize and placed second in the 2015 ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize.

Cahill's first published collected work of poetry The Accidental Cage won Best First Book at the IP Picks Awards in 2006, and her selected fiction Letter to Pessoa won the NSW Premier's Literary Award 'Glenda Adams Award for New Writing', and was longlisted for the ASL Gold Medal in 2017 and shortlisted in the Steele Rudd Award in 2017. 

In 2019, Cahill was the recipient of an Australia Council Grant of $30,000.

In addition to works individually indexed on AustLit, see Notes for further works.

Most Referenced Works


  • In addition to works individually indexed on AustLit, Michelle Cahill has also published the following:

    • 'Her Right Hand Married to Jane Eyre', Kill Your Darlings 25 (April 2016).
    • 'On Poetry and Things Left Unsaid', Spike [Meanjin blog], 16 June 2016. Available:

Personal Awards

2021 shortlisted Helen Anne Bell Poetry Bequest for 'Dark'.
2020 winner Red Room Poetry Fellowship
2019 recipient Australia Council Grants, Awards and Fellowships

Literature Arts Projects For Individuals and Groups $30,000.00

Awards for Works

Field Notes for an Albatross Palimpsest i "Oils, ochre, feather, flower, leaf, cliff, hailstone, storm, spume, wreck, wind wrack", 2023 single work poetry
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , January - February no. 450 2023; (p. 44-45)
2023 shortlisted Peter Porter Poetry Prize
y separately published work icon Daisy and Woolf Sydney : Hachette Australia , 2022 23805770 2022 single work novel

''This is where I begin. This blank page draws me nearer to you, the day sweltering, my courage quickens, the curtains billowing and the punkah swaying, the punkah rattling as I sit at my writing bureau ... it is a soothing sound.'

'Mina, a writer, is navigating her place in the world, balancing creativity, academia, her sexuality and the expectation that a wife and mother abandons herself for others. For her, like so many women of mixed ancestry, it is too easy to be erased. But her fire and intellect refuse to bow. She discovers 'the dark, adorable' Eurasian woman Daisy Simmons, whom Peter Walsh plans to marry in Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway. Daisy disappeared from Woolf's pages, her story unfinished - never given a voice in the novel, nor a footnote in any of the admiring Woolf scholarship that followed.

While dealing with the remains of another life, Mina decides to write Daisy's story. Travelling from Australia to England, India and China, freelancing and researching, she has to navigate cultural and race barriers, trying hard not to look back or flinch at the personal cost. Like Woolf, her writing both sustains and overwhelms her. But in releasing Daisy from her fictional destiny, Mina finds the stubbornness and strength to also break free.' (Publication summary)

2023 longlisted Voss Literary Prize
2023 longlisted ASAL Awards ALS Gold Medal
y separately published work icon Letter to Pessoa Artarmon : Giramondo Publishing , 2016 10166210 2016 selected work short story

'Letter to Pessoa is the first collection of short stories by award-winning Goan-Australian poet Michelle Cahill. It is an imaginative tour de force, portraying the experiences of a whole range of characters, including a scientist, a cat and a young Indian female version of Joseph Conrad, in settings across the world, from Barcelona to Capetown, Boston to Chiang Mai, Kathmandu to Kraków. Like the poet Fernando Pessoa, who gives the collection its title, and who created as many as seventy versions of himself, Cahill displays a remarkable inventiveness, making distant landscapes and situations come alive, in compelling detail, as they express the fear and longing, obsession and outrage, of the people caught up in them.

'Displaying its awareness of the power of writing to create realities, the collection also includes a number of fictions in letter form, to Jacques Derrida, Virginia Woolf, Jean Genet and Margaret Atwood – and to JM Coetzee, from his character Melanie Isaacs. ' (Publication summary)

2017 shortlisted Queensland Literary Awards University of Southern Queensland Australian Short Story Collection – Steele Rudd Award
2017 winner New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing
2017 longlisted ASAL Awards ALS Gold Medal
Last amended 1 Nov 2021 07:58:45
Other mentions of "" in AustLit: