Meet the 2019 writers
The second cohort of writers for The Next Chapter, our 2019 recipients, were Arthur Bolkas, Racheal Oak Butler, Sam Elkin, Meleika Gasa-Fatafehi, Dan Hogan, Faina Iligoga, Grace Lee, Jasmin McGaughey, Lorna Munro and Jasper Wyld.
Arthur Bolkas (Vic)
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 held a life-giving force for Arthur.
Racheal Oak Butler (Vic)
Proudly Gamilaroi, Racheal Oak Butler is a writer, performer, musician and self-defence teacher. Racheal has been writing for many years and has amassed a significant body of work including poetry, short stories, songs, performance and spoken word pieces.
Racheal recently toured a spoken word piece, ‘My Calling’, as part of the Queerstories series of performances throughout Victoria and NSW. She is currently working with Ilbijerri Theatre Company as a performer in Scar Trees.
Writing is fundamental to who Racheal is – and although the message is sometimes raw and traumatic, it is also unique, powerful and truthful, and goes to the heart of many key issues and experiences.
Sam Elkin (Vic)
Sam Elkin is a writer and community lawyer living in Melbourne’s west. In 2018, Sam set up Victoria’s first LGBTIQ legal service. Sam is also one half of the trans cultural history radio show Transgender Warriors. Sam has previously been published in Overland and Homer magazine, and is currently working on a memoir.
Meleika Gesa-Fatafehi (QLD)
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.
Dan Hogan (NSW)
Dan Hogan is a writer and primary school teacher from San Remo, NSW. Dan’s essays and poems have appeared in the Guardian, Crikey, Sydney Morning Herald, ABC, Cordite, the Lifted Brow, Overland and Meanjin, among others.
In their spare time, they run small DIY publisher Subbed In. Dan has also appeared at festivals and events including National Young Writers’ Festival and Digital Writers’ Festival. Dan is working on their first book of essays.
Faina Iligoga (Tas)
Faina Iligoga is originally from Rwanda, and is a survivor of the Rwandan Tutsi genocide of 1994. She is married and has four biological children, three adopted children (sisters) and five grandchildren (four nephews and a niece). She arrived in Tasmania in October 2002, and works in administration at IOOF Holdings in Hobart.
Faina has just been awarded the Churchill Fellowship for 2019, to go and learn how to properly archive, convey the history and preserve memories.
She is a member and co-founder of the Rwandan Australian Friendship Association Inc. (RAFA), a not for profit organisation registered in Hobart and operating since 2006, that trades as the Rwandan Coffee Club and raises funds by selling coffee to support survivors of the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda. In her spare time, she likes volunteering at this charity in promoting, packaging and delivering coffee to clients.
Grace Lee (NSW)
Grace Lee is a Chinese-Australian writer who has published a novel in China, which she co-wrote with her daughter. Having studied Chinese literature at university, she writes stories inspired by real experiences or events. Writing is a chance to provide different perspectives and challenge homogeneous voices. She seeks to reflect and critique through the creative form of stories. Grace writes in Chinese, and her daughter Rae Chen translates her works into English.
Jasmin McGaughey (QLD)
Jasmin McGaughey is a Torres Strait Islander from the Kulkalgal Nation, and African American. She completed her undergraduate degree in psychology and justice in 2016, but quickly realised her love was writing. She recently finished her Master of Writing, Editing and Publishing through the University of Queensland.
Currently, she works at black&write! as their Editor Intern at the State Library of Queensland. Jasmin’s passions have always been reading and writing, and she is proud to be able to work and learn in this field with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literature.
Lorna Munro (NSW)
Lorna Munro, or ‘Yilinhi’, is a Wiradjuri and Gamilaroi woman, multidisciplinary artist and regular radio and podcast host at Sydney’s Radio Skid Row. A long time active member of her Redfern/Waterloo community, her work is informed by her passion and well-studied insight in areas such as culture, history, politics and popular culture. Lorna has travelled the world showcasing her skills and distinctive style of poetry and political commentary.
She was also the sole designer and creator of Sydney’s – and possibly ‘Australia’s – first initiative to teach Aboriginal language through poetry, in partnership with Red Room Poetry in 2015. Throughout her career she has been on stage, in films and on paper, compiling and editing Paper Dreaming: Our Stories Our Way for Cambridge University Press in 2015. Lorna continues to work tirelessly mastering many art forms, raising funds, supporting and advocating for her community and her people on the local, national and international stage.
Jasper Wyld (SA)
Despite what first appearances may suggest, Jasper is neither a tawny frogmouth nor a disembodied hand. They are a student nearing the end of their undergraduate degree, majoring in both Literature and Screen. They write, weave, and strive to one day create a satisfying bio of an appropriate length.
In addition to the ten successful recipients, the Judges identified four highly-commended entries to The Next Chapter.
Alice Boyle is a Melbourne-based writer and ELICOS teacher. She studied creative writing, French and Spanish at the University of Melbourne, and is currently learning Flemish. She’s passionate about languages; she spends her days working with students from varied language backgrounds and her nights writing LGBTQIA+ young adult fiction. Her short story, ‘The Exchange’, was published in Growing Up Queer in Australia, and she’s currently writing her first novel. She lives with her Belgian partner on Wurundjeri land.
Alex Creece is a writer, poet, student and average kook living on Wadawurrung land (Geelong, Victoria). She is the Production Editor at Cordite Poetry Review, and was recently awarded a 2019 Write-ability Fellowship with Writers Victoria. Alex is passionate about neurodiversity in the arts, particularly given its intersections with other forms of identity and social inequity.
Creative writing often allows Alex to draw from her own experiences as a queer and autistic woman with mental health conditions. She is currently cobbling together her debut poetry manuscript, through which she hopes to capture her world both as whimsically and unapologetically as possible.
Kate grew up exploring the bush land surrounding her home suburb of Eltham, which founded her enduring passion for Victoria’s native flora and fauna. She studied Zoology and Teaching and after a short stint as a classroom teacher, joined Zoos Victoria, where she has worked as an education officer for the last 14 years.
At the beginning of 2019, Kate moved with her young family from the leafy Macedon Ranges to coastal Bellarine Peninsula, with the aim of spending more time with her family and finally pursuing her dream of being an author.
Vicky Xiuzhong Xu
Vicky Xiuzhong Xu is a researcher for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Cyber Policy Centre. Previously, she was a journalist for the New York Times Sydney Bureau and ABC’s Asia Pacific Newsroom in Melbourne, covering China and Australia and everything in between. Born and raised in China, she was educated in China, Australia, and Israel. She’s also a stand-up comedian and delivered the 2019 Chaser Lecture. And of course, she is writing a novel too – her unsuccessful entry for The Next Chapter.