An RMIT-led program supporting cultural immersion for Australian and Asian writers is celebrating the appointment of its newest fellows.
New fellows will join writers from across the Asia-Pacific at collaborative residencies and public events in Vietnam and Melbourne in 2015 as part of the next instalment of the WrICE program, an initiative supported by RMIT University and the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.
The new members will travel to Vietnam in January with three emerging Australian writers, connecting with writers across cultures and generations from the region. The group will then return to participate in events at the 2015 Melbourne Writers Festival.
The newest WrICE fellows are:
- acclaimed author Cate Kennedy
- performance poet, hip hop artist and author Omar Musa
- high-profile Singaporean novelist Suchen Christine Lim
- celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyen Bao Chan
- Palanca Award-winning writer Jhoanna Lynn B Cruz
- best-selling novelist Nhien Phan
- Burmese contemporary poet Nyein Way
Joining them are the recipients of the WrICE Emerging Writer Fellowships. The three writers – graduates of the Associate Degree in Professional Writing and Editing and the Bachelor of Arts (Creative Writing) are Melody Newell, Joe Rubbo and Laura Stortenbeker - who were selected by an external panel.
Cate Kennedy, whose father was a Vietnam veteran who served in Vung Tau with the RAAF in 1972, plans to make Vietnam the focal point of her next writing project.
"I am delighted at the creative exchange and stimulus provided by a residency such as this, particularly because the country selected is Vietnam, and I would be able - later in the year - to reciprocate with Vietnamese writers visiting Australia," she said.
A recipient of a prestigious Fulbright fellowship, Suchen Christine Lim has been an International Writing Fellow and writer in residence at the University of Iowa, and a Visiting Fellow in Creative Writing at the Technological University of Singapore.
Her latest novel The River's Song was launched in Singapore and London this year.
Ms Lim said the WrICE program's Vietnam instalment offered a chance to tap into the vast literary vein of south-east Asia.
"The program is an opportunity for Asian and Australian writers to meet and discuss our craft and work, and perhaps to collaborate," she said.
After receiving the 2012 Southeast Asia Write Award, Ms Lim said she was drawn to the potential of bringing regional works to a new audience.
"In 2012 at the Southeast Asia Write Award in Bangkok, I had the chance to read excerpts of south-east Asian works translated into English," she said.
"Since then I have been eager to find out more. WrICE will open a door to such an opportunity."
Joining Ms Lim and Ms Kennedy will be rising literary star Omar Musa, a Malaysian-Australian rapper and poet from Queanbeyan.
A former winner of the Australian Poetry Slam and Indian Ocean Poetry Slam, he has performed extensively around the country.
Mr Musa's debut novel Here Come the Dogs (Penguin, 2014) is a groundbreaking and revelatory glimpse inside the world of suburban, multicultural Australia, delivered in the rich, unflinching language of the streets.
WrICE is coordinated by the non/fictionLab with support from the Copyright Agency and partners including The Melbourne Writers Festival.
The program's goal is to connect writers from different cultures and generations, and open up writers to new and distinctive ways of looking at the world.
Inaugural WrICE fellows appeared at Writers Across Borders during the Melbourne Writers Festival.
Maxine Beneba Clarke, Alvin Pang, Robin Hemley, Laurel Fantauzzo and Eddin Khoo, as well as RMIT Associate Professors David Carlin and Francesca Rendle-Short from the School of Media and Communication, participated in a lively session of shared experiences of cultural immersion and exchange, which included readings from the participants' diverse bodies of work.
Lisa Dempster, Director of the Melbourne Writers Festival, praised the event as an opportunity to facilitate international exchange through creative mediums.
"There has never been a more vital time for Australia to be engaging in cultural discussions with our Asia-Pacific neighbours; it is through channels such as literature and art that understanding and insight can be fostered and developed," she said.
Students from RMIT's premier Creative Writing Program as well as the Associate Degree in Professional Writing and Editing are encouraged to apply for the program in 2015.