2020, wrapped

pie chart showing Jinghua Qian's publications in 2020

Damn, what a year. All I remember is feeling utterly gobsmacked and speechless at every turn, so it’s quite a shock to look back and find that somehow I rustled up all these words. Huge thanks to everyone who commissioned or booked or hired me – or sent me a coffee – going freelance at the start of lockdown was frankly terrifying and for a moment I feared I had done something very stupid. I could not have survived without the support of editors, collaborators, readers and friends. I couldn’t be more grateful. Here’s some of what I’ve been up to…


Underfoot – secret histories of Footscray, June 2020, with Liz Crash.

Essays and opinion

We need new names, Silent Dialogue / 沉默的对话 (print, forthcoming).

Ghost in the mirror, Disobedient Daughters (print, forthcoming).

I can’t apply for another grantUn magazine 14.2 (print, audio and digital).

Walking away, backwards; or woman-lite in women’s litFeminist Writers Festival, 20 November 2020.

Sexting at the end of the worldKill Your Darlings, 14 September 2020.

Adding people of colour to a racist workplace isn’t the answerOverland, 7 September 2020.

Navigating Australia’s mutual obligation system has been humiliating and counterproductiveThe Guardian, 31 August 2020.

Genderfeels in nomads’ landThem, 13 August 2020.

It doesn’t work like thatVCOSS, 16 July 2020.

How coronogamy (coronavirus-induced monogamy) has changed my sex life, MTV, 24 June 2020.

What’s wrong with saying ‘ni hao’HuffPost, 15 June 2020.

Labor’s attack on migrant workers is a painful reminder of our sad historySydney Morning Herald, 7 May 2020, with Sanmati Verma.


Still lifeThe Saturday Paper, 12 September 2020. Originally commissioned for Assembly for the Future (text and audio).

May and June, On immortality and kindness, 5 August 2020 (text and audio).

Voluptatem (forthcoming – commission for Deborah Kelly’s CREATION project).


A buoyant life, The Saturday Paper, 14 November 2020.

Chinatown Melbourne is a one-way street that took a turnCulture Trip, 29 June 2020.

The lack of diversity in Australia’s sperm banksABC, 11 June 2020.

US independent booksellers rally together via Bookshop.org, Books + Publishing, 6 May 2020.

Coronavirus ban prevents Chinese artists from entering Australia, ArtsHub, 6 February 2020.

Authors raise thousands for firefighters amid fresh attacks on the arts, ArtsHub, 15 January 2020.


Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt) review – delightful and distinctive queer romcom, The Guardian, 27 November 2020.

LoadedThe Saturday Paper, 7 November 2020.

RevengeThe Saturday Paper, 26 September 2020.

Guilt mountainMeanjin, Spring 2020.

Tell Me Why game review: a poetic exploration of memory against a stunning Alaskan landscapeThe Guardian, 14 September 2020.

The Baby-Sitters Club: the perfect PG escape for millennials and their kids – or anyone, reallyThe Guardian, 20 August 2020.

Sex, life: The fundamental queerness of ‘Vida’The Monthly, 16 July 2020.

‘Dear Australia’: dispatches from a world overdue for a reckoningThe Guardian, 2 July 2020.

Sneaking up for a gut punchWitness, 20 March 2020.

Asia TOPA: Virtual IntimacyWitness, 17 March 2020.

Dragon Ladies Don’t WeepPeril, 11 March 2020.

Saigon, Arts Centre Melbourne/Asia TOPAArtsHub, 17 March 2020.

Samsara, Arts Centre Melbourne/Asia TOPAArtsHub, 12 March 2020.

Sva Kranti, Footscray Community Arts Centre/Asia TOPAArtsHub, 4 March 2020.

Torch the Place, Arts Centre Melbourne/Asia TOPAArtsHub, 19 February 2020.

Boobs, Arts Centre MelbourneArtsHub, 3 February 2020.

Yellow peril isn’t what it used to beMeanjin, Summer 2019/2020.

Lists and lifestyle

A local’s guide to SeddonTime Out Melbourne, 5 November 2020.

Playlist: Music of the SinospherePeril, 24 June 2020.

Playlist: Teacup in a stormPeril, 31 May 2020.

Talks, panels and workshops

Beyond monogamy, Wollongong Writers Festival

The virtual co-presence of the internet, Bleed Festival

Editing critical writing, Editing Micro-Festival

The Drop-In sessions for Djed Press, The Suburban Review, Western Sydney University’s The Writing Zone

Panel for Critics’ Campus, MIFF

Lecture for RMIT School of Media and Communication

Presentations (with Liz Crash) for Maribyrnong City Council and Women’s Circus

The personal is political, Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health conference


Inaugural writing fellow, Liminal magazine x Hyphenated projects

Shortlisted, The Australia Institute writer-in-residence program

Interviews and press

Online: Interview #147 — Jinghua QianLiminal, 7 September 2020, by Maddee Clark with illustrations by Viet-My Bui.

Online: NüProfile: Jinghua Qian on why ‘China-watching’ is problematic, and un-belonging in AustraliaNüVoices, 30 September 2020, by Annabelle Jarrett and edited by Jessie Lau.

Radio and online: Senator Eric Abetz’s controversial questions about loyalty rattle Chinese communities in Australia, ABC, 22 October 2020, by Bang Xiao and Stephen Dziedzic.

Television and online: Report reveals racist abuse experienced by Asian Australians during coronavirus pandemic7.30, ABC, 23 July 2020, presented by Jason Om.

Podcast: Life Under LockdownTransdemic podcast episode three, 19 July 2020, by Sam Elkin, Gemma Cafarella and Darcy O’Connell.

Online: Critics step aside in show of solidarity for greater diversity in media, NITV News, 28 June 2020, by Nadine Silva.

Online: Profile in Correspondences newsletter, 5 April 2020, by Emma Thomson.

Press for Underfoot

Radio: Sense of Place: Jinghua Qian and Liz Crash, FootscrayBlueprint, ABC Radio National, 10 October 2020, presented by Jonathan Green.

Radio: Liz Crash and Jinghua Qian on UnderfootTuesday Breakfast, 3CR, 22 September 2020, presented by Genevieve Siggins and the Tuesday Breakfast team.

Print: There’s great stories underfootMaribyrnong and Hobson’s Bay Star Weekly, 8 July 2020, p 10, by Benjamin Millar. Also online on 12 August 2020.


I also made more than a dozen playlists – hear here – and ate my way through every single meat pie sold at the supermarket. I’m so ready for a new year and new obsessions. Fingers crossed for 2021.

Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt) film review | The Guardian

For The Guardian, I reviewed Monica Zanetti’s teen romcom, Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt), a pretty charming story of queer love – romantic, familial, and intergenerational.

‘Zanetti cleverly plays with the idea that our queer predecessors paved the way for how we live now, but as individuals can be just as bumbling and out of touch as anyone else when it comes to dealing with teenagers. We might idolise OWLs (“older wiser lesbians”) but they’re only flightless, bug-eyed humans after all.’

Sophie Hawkshaw and Zoe Terakes in Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt). Photograph: Nixco

Walking away, backwards; or, woman-lite in women’s lit

As an AFAB nonbinary person, many feminist and women’s spaces welcome me – but often that welcome is itself a form of trans erasure, an insistence on seeing us as the genders we were assigned. I wrote about my uncomfortable relationship with feminist literary spaces for Feminist Writers Festival.

Image with Feminist Writers Festival logo and pullquote 'I know the hospitality I receive is frequently also a form of trans erasure - an insistence on seeing us as the genders we were assigned. - Jinghua Qian'

‘I’m pretty accustomed to not feeling at home anywhere – this is often a good thing, a productive tension. The can of worms fertilises the soil. But whether it’s Feminist Writers Festival, Facebook writers’ groups, or other feminist literary initiatives like the Stella Prize, I think it’s important to remember that you can’t simply tweak the category of woman to accommodate nonbinary people. Nonbinary disturbs the foundations of binary gender because it’s supposed to. It’s intentionally an interruption, a question as well as an identity.’

Panel: Beyond monogamy | Wollongong Writers Festival

The 2020 Wollongong Writers Festival is all about the body, and every session will be delivered online so you can attend wherever your body is. I’ll be on the ‘Beyond monogamy: love outside the mainstream‘ panel alongside Lee Kofman (Split, Imperfect) and Paul Dalgarno (Poly). Full festival program here – lots of great stuff on pleasure, pain, visibility and mortality so go check it out.

Sat 28 Nov 2020
11am to noon AEST
live online event
$10 + booking fee | book here

Workshop: Editing critical writing | Editing Micro-Festival

In November I’ll be presenting a workshop on editing criticism at the Editing Micro-Festival. The online festival runs 13 to 15 November with a fab line-up of presenters: Elena Gomez, Khalid Warsame, Hella Ibrahim, Cher Tan, Alison Evans, Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen, Mel Campbell, and Matilda Dixon-Smith (who’s also the festival organiser). Check out the full program here and please come along if you have even a passing interest in critical writing, it’s fine if you can’t pay anything.

Sat 14 Nov 2020
12 noon AEST
live online event
book here (pay what you feel – 50% of profits go to Pay the Rent)

Senator Eric Abetz’s controversial questions about loyalty rattle Chinese communities in Australia | ABC News

‘I can condemn him all I like … Xi Jinping isn’t sitting around wondering what a queer performance poet in Footscray thinks of his policies.’

I was on ABC today commenting on Chinese Australians being called to condemn the CCP. I talked about conditional citizenship as a form of racial profiling. Read the story by Bang Xiao and Stephen Dziedzic here.