Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellowships 2015: Introducing the Fellows

The Wheeler Centre is delighted to announce the winners of this year’s Hot Desk Fellowships, supported by the Readings Foundation.

(Image: Markus Spiske / CC-BY 2.0)

Twenty lucky writers were chosen by a selection panel that included representatives from the Wheeler Centre and our resident organisations: Melbourne Writers Festival, Emerging Writers Festival, SPUNC, Australian Poetry, Express Media, Writers Victoria and Melbourne PEN. The winners will receive a desk of their own at the Wheeler Centre for two months, plus a $1000 stipend.

The writers who’ll be participating in this year’s fellowship are: Cameron Baker, Alice Bishop, Susan Bradley Smith, Kelly Chandler, Toby Fehily, Suzy Freeman-Greene, Tully Hansen, Rebecca Butterworth, Li-Kim Chuah, Emilie Collyer, Emma Marie Jones, Lian Low, Aicha Marhfour, Izzy Roberts-Orr, Clem Bastow, Astrid Edwards, Georgia Symons, Sam van Zweden, Yvette Walker, and Jessica Yu.

Here’s a short introduction to the writers and projects for our first intake for the year. These writers will be undertaking their projects at the Wheeler Centre from Monday 11 May to Friday 17 July.

Cameron Baker, Combinations Of Words (Short fiction)           

Combinations Of Words is a collection of short stories that are both funny and insightful. They aim to be humourous without compromising any of the poignancy or intellect that more carefully calibrated stories are able to achieve. The stories will be in the vein of Lydia Davis, BJ Novak and Woody Allen. Short, funny, but also profound on a deeper level. There will be approximately 15-20 short stories in total.

Alice Bishop, A Constant Hum (Short fiction)   

A Constant Hum is a collection of short stories based around my hometown’s experience of Black Saturday. It focuses, particularly, on women’s experiences during aftermath of bushfire. But also, men and the heightening of gender roles in regard to these experiences—pedalled, mainly, by the media. A Constant Hum also aims to show the difficulties victims of natural disaster face returning: to regular routines, and to changed landscapes.

Susan Bradley Smith, The Screaming Middle: A Memoir in Verse (Poetry)    

The Screaming Middle is poem-a-day memoir of the year of turning 50, the story of one woman who forgot to have a party. This confessional verse novel takes you on road trips where cars blow up, into hospital psych wards, out into perfect winter swells, down into the chambers of marriage, and through bad decisions, epic failures, brilliant ideas and back to kingdoms of chaos and castles of hilarity. With an enormous cast of characters The Screaming Middle is Orwellian in its frank and unforgiving ‘down and out’ expedition through life’s daily hardships and glories.

Kelly Chandler, The Other Mother (Collection of essays/short fiction)

I want to write a book about how what it feels like to be called someone’s ‘spare mum’. The Other Mother is a collection of essays, interviews, first person anecdotes and short stories that bring step parents and their spare children to the front of the family photo.

Toby Fehily, It’s Not An Aircraft (Creative non-fiction)

Not long after sunset on Saturday the 21st of October 1978, a pilot radioed Melbourne air traffic control in distress. From a rented Cessna flying over Bass Strait, the pilot could see an aircraft he couldn’t identify. He spoke of a long shape with a shiny metallic exterior dotted with four bright lights, hovering above him. “That strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again,” the pilot went on to say. “It is hovering, and it’s not an aircraft.” Those words would be the pilot’s final words. Neither he nor his Cessna were found again. Known as the Frederick Valentich Disappearance, the mystery is an enduring part of UFOlogy lore in Australia and throughout the world. The project I hope to work on during my Hot Desk Fellowship is a non-fiction manuscript that tells this story and weaves it into a broader study of what makes people want to believe.

Suzy Freeman-Greene, Evacuation (Non-fiction)

Mum died five months ago. She was a child evacuee in England during World War Two who later came to Australia and reinvented herself. She married ‘‘up’’, settled in Brighton and cut off her English, working-class family for 30 years. Now I’m packing up her house. The memories and unanswered questions are crowding in as I dispose of massive amounts of drugs, show estate agents through her sanctuary and notice the absences as I pack up the photos. I’m now writing a series of essays around aspects of mum’s life and death, exploring bigger issues - such as how we handle grief in a secular context, the medicalisation of society, the importance of home and how I’m still trying to understand mum, looking for clues.

Tully Hansen, #Bot and #botALLY: Twitter’s robot poets and the humans who love them (Non-fiction)

For the past few years I’ve been obsessed with Twitter bots, automated accounts run by computer programs which bend the mechanics of spam to literary and artistic ends. A relatively obscure cadre of artists, programmers, writers and scholars continue advancing the state of the art, producing bots capable of everything from remixing Ezra Pound to crowdsourcing iambic pentameter, from monitoring Wikipedia edits by government to sexting by way of Wikihow instructions. I would like to produce a long-form essay which serves to introduce the form, place it in context, profile some of its key proponents and put forward a typology of Twitter bots.