Meet the Hot Desk Fellows: Round Two, 2013
It’s that time of year again, where we welcome a new batch of writers to our Wheeler Centre hot-desks. And a wonderfully varied crowd it is.
There’s a singer–songwriter venturing into memoir, a poet seeking refuge from a Duplo-strewn house, a Zimbabwe migrant writing about her experience, a Werribee writer defending her much-maligned suburb, and a freelancer planning to split her time between several assignments.
All of them will work on their writing projects at their own Wheeler Centre desk for the next two months. Thanks to the Readings Foundation, they also receive a stipend of $1000 each.
Let’s meet the second round of Hot Desk Fellows for 2013.
Angie Hart, former lead vocalist and co-collaborator of nineties pop-band Frente, is working on a series of short memoir-essays on her life as a touring musician.
‘I had never been in a band, I had never travelled overseas, I hadn’t written a song before I joined Frente, I didn’t know how to be famous, and I had no concept of moderation,’ she reflects.
Angie has been writing and performing songs for over 20 years, but she describes her reading for the inaugural Women of Letters event as ‘the most humbling experience I have had for a long time’.
She has been writing ever since, including for Liner Notes, Going Down Swinging and the Wheeler Centre’s own Erotic Fan Fiction.
L.K. Holt is working on her third full-length poetry collection, This is Mars, which will be published by John Leonard Press. Her first collection, Man Wolf Man, won the 2009 Kenneth Slessor Prize, as part of the NSW Premier’s Awards.
‘After my son was born, he and I came to the unspoken agreement that he was the centre of the universe,’ she says. ‘Nineteen months later and our house is the templum of this new celestial cult: devotional objects, burnt offerings and Duplo are scattered on the floors of every room.’
She says that the hot-desk fellowships will impose regularity on her writing schedule, and provide fresh surroundings to inspire her. She looks forward to mixing with writers of different genres as she works.
Meleesha Bardolia’s short story about her experience of returning to Zimbabwe, which she left thirteen years ago, has blossomed into a novella-in-progress.
Waiting Upon Arrival has two strands, and two voices: 25-year-old Leeza, on holiday in a place that was once her homeland, and ten-year-old Leeza, growing up in Zimbabwe and reacting to the devastating news of a move to Australia, for political reasons – and then adjusting to her alien status in her new ‘home’.
Meleesha plans to use her time at the Wheeler Centre to examine the gaps and intersections between those two voices.
‘I think a story like the one I’m itching to tell is not only personal but also political,’ she says. ‘After working at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre over the last year and observing the debates that occur in the media and academia about refugees, I think the line drawn between resident and alien needs to be blurred.’
Fatima Measham is a social commentator and feature writer who lives in Werribee. She is working on an essay in defence of her suburb – ‘a literary attempt to subvert prevailing perceptions of Werribee as “the place where your poo goes”, as one so-called friend gleefully told his child’.
She will explore the district’s rich indigenous, pastoral and migrant history, and its ‘natural endowments’, and will reflect on the assumptions people make about such places and those who live there.
‘No one within my close circle of family and friends is a writer, or even vaguely in the arts,’ she says. ‘Nor have I ever been part of a writing community or been mentored by a literary sage. So when I’m not feeling like an alien, I feel like an impostor.’
Fatima has been published by The Drum, National Times, The Big Issue, Eureka Street and other publications.
Pepi Ronalds is a freelance writer of non-fiction articles and essays – thus she finds her imagination captured by different assignments at any time. She’ll be working on a number of projects while at the Wheeler Centre.
Firstly she plans to extend her story, ‘After Shock’ (about the 2011 Japanese earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown). The extension comprises a long term, long form project documenting the stories of individuals living in Northern Japan as they deal with the ongoing aftermath of the disaster.
As an enthusiastic freelancer Pepi will also be researching and writing various articles for other publications including Kill Your Darlings (she’s a 2013 columnist on Books and Writing for Killings), Outback Magazine and Southpaw. Throughout her time at her hot desk, Pepi will continue to research and post articles about writing on her blog: Future of Long Form.