Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellowships 2016: Introducing the Fellows, round three
This year’s Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellowships are supported by the Readings Foundation and private donors. Through the year, twenty one lucky writers – and two lucky illustrators – were chosen by a selection panel that included representatives from the Wheeler Centre and our resident organisations: Melbourne Writers Festival, Emerging Writers' Festival, Small Press Network, Australian Poetry, Express Media, Writers Victoria and Melbourne PEN. The winners receive a desk of their own at the Wheeler Centre for two months, plus a $1000 stipend.
The writers and illustrators who’ll be participating in this round are: Hiroki Kobayashi, Vidya Rajan, Lou Smith, Fiona Spitzkowsky, Veronica Sullivan, Fury, Lilit Thwaites and Eloise Grills (Illustration Hot Desk). They'll be working at the Wheeler Centre from Monday 19 September to Friday 25 November; below, they describe their intended projects.
Hiroki Kobayashi, Assisted Living (play)
Assisted Living is a play that follows a family facing the politics of ageing, care and death as they attempt to enter their father into an assisted living facility amidst Japan’s ageing population. The premise of this work was ignited through the need to put my own grandfather in an assisted living facility, following a fall in which we also learnt that he had early stages of dementia. Assisted Living seeks to craft a world in which characters must navigate the ethics of truth, communication and care amongst the complex backdrop of a booming aged care industry.
Vidya Rajan, Asian Ghost-ery Store (web series)
The Asian Ghost-ery Store web series project consists of three webisodes that are a continuation of my 2015 theatre show by the same name – an experimental, darkly humorous and tongue-in-cheek exploration of race and identity in contemporary Australia. The stage play focussed on two young Asian-Australian artists grappling with representation, identity politics, the messiness of ambition and their personal lives. The web series project will address similar issues, but extend these characters and have them play in new narrative and comedic contexts.
Lou Smith, Texas (poetry)
Texas is a thematically-linked collection of poems set in my hometown of Newcastle in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The poems will be primarily set in what was then an area of the suburb Carrington – dubbed ‘Texas’, a shantytown housing many homeless people during the Depression of the 1930s. The collection will be stylistically influenced by frontier narratives from poets such as Cathy Park Hong and Natasha Trethewey.
Fiona Spitzkowsky, Inhale (play)
Inhale is a series of four short plays – approximately 15 to 20 minutes in length – that consist of the same ten lines of dialogue but present vastly different stories, each defined and cushioned by the silent action that accompanies the dialogue, as set out by poetic stage directions.
Veronica Sullivan, Family Tree (fiction)
When Finn’s family begin to notice strange changes in his behaviour, they initially dismiss them as evidence of a midlife crisis. As the oddities keep accumulating and his unusual tics increase in severity and frequency, it becomes clear that something far stranger is happening: Finn is turning into a tree. Family Tree is a magical realist story about loss and grief, perpetual love and unwanted magic, and the unexpected gift of transformation.
Fury, the pearls around their necks (poetry)
the pearls around their necks will be a gothic suite of narrative poetry, in a similar to Dorothy Porter's The Monkey's Mask. It will document a girl's experience of bullying at an all-girls high school; the subtlety, the paranoia, the gaslighting and finally the victim-blaming and denial of support structures such as the school and adult figures. It will be a dark investigation of the intersection of class, money, queerness and the cruelty of girls in an all-girl setting.
Lilit Thwaites, Australian Connection (translation)
Australian Connection is a bilingual anthology of short stories. Spanish writers who have visited Australia have been invited to write a short reflection or story in Spanish, inspired in some way by Australia. These pieces will be translated into English and the resultant collection of Spanish and English texts will be published – thereby providing readers in Spain and Australia with an insight into each other’s culture.
Eloise Grills, The museum of everything and everyone we tried to throw away (Illustration Hot Desk)
This graphic novella is a surreal, personal and non-linear narrative that will examine the ways we try to destroy the past – to stop it, and our past selves, from seeping up into the present. Part-memoir and part-fiction, the work will scrutinise rituals I have used to censor past experiences and how these have informed my identity. The work will be composed of interviews, personal reflections and dreams, and incorporate photographs, portraits, cartoons, digital resources and archival materials – real and imagined.