Meet the Hot Desk Fellows: second round for 2015

How can it be nearly August already? We only just packed away the Wheeler Centre snorkels.

And yet it is nearly August, which means it's time to announce our second round of Hot Desk fellows. For the next two months, these seven writers will each get their own desk here at the Wheeler Centre to work on their writing projects. They will also each receive a stipend of $1000, thanks to the Readings Foundation.

Meet our next round of writers - and their projects.

Rebecca Butterworth, Rural Lives; Rural Suicides (non-fiction)    

My plan is to write about rural issues, with a focus on rural suicide.  Isolation and lack of resources, the tragedy of drought and the will of the land; these are some of the issues that loom largest in cliched depictions of rural life. But the everyday reality for country people is, in fact, more complicated than that. Lack of employment, the desperate scramble for tourism, slow internet, low cattle prices - these issues affect people in much more practical ways.

Emilie Collyer, The Futures Project (short fiction/performance pieces)

This project will take the form of a collection of short stories and works for performance. These pieces will look into the future and ask: are we facing dystopia or utopia and how might differnt futures look?

Jessica Yu, The Strong and Silent Type (Young Adult novel)

Sixteen-year old nobody, En Ye Ang is an introvert and a dreamer; a chronic-over-thinker and a meticulous life-planner; a quiet achiever and a nervous wreck; and most of all, a scintillating storyteller who struggles to express himself verbally. En Ye finds it hard to speak up about his real thoughts and feelings in front of almost everyone: his crush, his rival, his classmates, strangers and even his own family. Over the course of this novel, En Ye learns the art of honest speech, writes a novel and tells his crush how he feels about her. Most importantly, En Ye learns the art of speaking up for himself and others and in his own, quiet way, teaches those around him about the long-lost wisdom and strength of self-doubt, shyness, introversion and being slow to speak in a world which favours extroversion, charisma and Colgate smiles.

Emma Marie Jones, I Have Seen Your Body Where it Wasn't (poetry)

A collection of poems driven by longing, this work of sometimes-fiction, sometimes-memoir explores the momentary energy of non-physical human connection. Using experimental poetic form and the new lingua franca of a digital generation, the work seeks not only to explore but to embody the moments of emotional, spiritual and sexual connection taking place in online, psychic and imagined spaces. Through instant messaging, prayer, telepathy, glance and out-of-body experience, the voices in these poems reach out to be heard. On completion, the work will be turned into a chapbook.  

Lian Low, Untitled (travel memoir)           

In 1993, acclaimed Italian journalist Tiziano Terzani visited Melaka, Malaysia and described it as “the most haunted city in the world”. In 2013 and 2014, I travelled to Melaka and Singapore to find the ending of a ghost story, which began at a Melbourne dinner table conversation with my uncle. To find the end of my uncle’s ghost story, I travelled to the places of my childhood and encounter people who open my eyes to mythologies that are props to nation-building propaganda. This travel memoir is an excavation of a family ghost story that’s led to other discoveries, a revelation of the mythological fictions that I once learnt as historical fact, and an investigation in understanding a parallel fantastical reality that can chart one’s destiny.

Aicha Marhfour, The Good Muslim Girl's Guidebook (non-fiction)    

This project is a part-memoir, part-historical examination of the challenges facing young Muslim girls in the Western world. It's a fight between tradition and freedom. But where it comes into its own, and is perhaps unprecedented, is how it explores the realities of daily life for the Muslim girl brought up in Australia. There will be sections on Islamic school, sex (I'm typing that in a hushed voice, looking over my shoulder), leaving home and email romance. The project will also look into the cultural stigma of mental illness and how that can cripple you.

Izzy Roberts-Orr, Raw Salt (poetry)

Raw Salt is a chapbook of poems with a companion audio piece that explores the relationship between place and memory. Revisiting the places and spaces I spent time with my Dad growing up, and the people who knew him best, I aim to produce a chapbook of 11 poems and an audio collage that captures some of his impressions on those spaces before the echoes are lost.

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