The Wheeler Centre
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Iconic Duos: The Next Chapter Writers and Mentors
With entries now open for the third year of The Next Chapter, the Wheeler Centre’s writers’ scheme, join three recipients and their mentors – Arthur Bolkas and Arnold Zable, Meleika Gesa-Fatafehi and Ellen van Neerven, and Jean Bachoura and Maria Tumarkin – to discuss the varied forms support for emerging writers can take, and the unique qualities of writing mentorships. Hosted by Veronica Sullivan.
Presented annually, The Next Chapter gives ten outstanding emerging writers the time and space to write, and a 12-month mentorship with an experienced writer. Through these mentorships, tomorrow’s great voices are steered and supported by today’s literary icons.
Presented in partnership with the Emerging Writers’ Festival.
Jean Bachoura is an inaugural recipient of the Wheeler Centre’s scheme for writers, The Next Chapter. His work is reflective of a life lived between cultures: born in Damascus, raised in Syria, Lebanon and Australia. In 2016 he was awarded the Deborah Cass Prize for his piece 'Night Falls'. In 2017 he wrote 'No Man’s Land', an account of his journey crossing the border into Syria. In 2019, his multi-platform project TRETINOIN was awarded The Lifted Brow & RMIT non/fictionLab Prize for Experimental Non-fiction.
Maria Tumarkin writes books, essays, reviews, and pieces for performance and radio; she collaborates with sound and visual artists and has had her work carved into dockside tiles. She is the author of four books of ideas. Her fourth (and latest) book Axiomatic won the 2018 Melbourne Prize for Literature and was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award (US), the Stella Prize, and the Prime Minister’s, NSW and Victorian Premiers’ Awards. Axiomatic was named a New Yorker Top 10 Book of 2019.
Maria is a recipient of the 2020 Windham Campbell Prize in the category of nonfiction. She holds a PhD in cultural history and is a senior lecturer in the creative writing program at the University of Melbourne.
Arthur Bolkas is a 2019 Next Chapter recipient. Raised on welfare in a Greek migrant family, Arthur was school captain and dux of his final year. However, in the fourth year of an Arts/Law degree, his life descended into drug addiction and imprisonment.
Arthur has been a cabbie, facilitated men’s groups, worked with at-risk youth and prisoners, run a church, and featured in the general media. A criminologist, speaker, actor, and father of two sons, he currently has three books on the go. Especially through the difficult times, writing has been a life-giving source for Arthur.
Arnold Zable is a highly acclaimed novelist, storyteller and human rights advocate. His works include Scraps of Heaven, Violin Lessons, The Fighter, which was shortlisted for a Victorian Premier’s Literary Award and a New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award, and his most recent work The Watermill. Zable lives in Melbourne.
Ellen van Neerven is an award-winning writer of Mununjali Yugambeh (South East Queensland) and Dutch heritage. They write fiction, poetry, plays and non-fiction. Ellen’s first book, Heat and Light, was the recipient of the David Unaipon Award, the Dobbie Literary Award and the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Indigenous Writers Prize. Ellen’s second book, a collection of poetry, Comfort Food, was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Kenneth Slessor Prize and highly commended for the 2016 Wesley Michel Wright Prize. Throat is Ellen’s highly anticipated second poetry collection.
Meleika Gesa-Fatafehi AKA Vika Mana, is a proud Torres Strait Islander and Tongan storyteller that takes many forms. They descend from the Zagareb and Dauareb tribes of Mer Island and the village of Fahefa in Tonga. They perform poetry, write criticism, breathe life into worlds and lastly, can share a joke or two, max. That’s because they only know exactly two jokes.They've written for Overland, The Big Issue, the Saturday Paper and several publications both at home and internationally. Vika is also a part of the FAMILI collective, rapping about Afros and abolition. In 2019, Meleika became one of ten writers that were chosen to be a part of The Next Chapter scheme from the Wheeler Centre.
Veronica is the Wheeler Centre’s Head of Programming.
She is the chair of the Custodial Committee of the Kat Muscat Fellowship. Previously, she was a board member and Program Manager of the Feminist Writers Festival, Prize Manager of the Stella Prize, and Online Editor of Kill Your Darlings. Veronica co-founded and co-hosted Sisteria, a podcast about women and non-binary creatives' experiences as creators and consumers of arts and culture.
Veronica was a regular columnist for Books+Publishing magazine in 2020, writing on the Australian publishing industry, and her literary criticism and other writing have been published by the Guardian, Overland, Kill Your Darlings, the Review of Australian Fiction and the Lifted Brow, among others. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing, Publishing and Editing from the University of Melbourne.