Two talented writers are heading to China for a collaborative immersion residency as part of RMIT’s Writers Immersion and Cultural Exchange Program (WrICE).
WrICE Established Writer and Early Career fellowships have been awarded to Alice Pung and Michele Lee.
They will join a face-to-face community of writers in Guangzhou and Yangshou in April 2016, alongside emerging writers and RMIT writing students Peter Clynes, Ara Sarafian and Mia Wotherspoon, as well as leading writers from the region including China’s Dai Fan.
The collaborative residency will spark networks and connections between emerging and established writers, helping to create an Asia-Pacific community of writers and raising their professional profile across the region.
Multi-award winning writer Alice Pung (Unpolished Gem, Her Father’s Daughter, Laurinda) was this year shortlisted as Sydney Morning Herald's Young Novelist of the Year.
“In 2012, I was the writer-in-residence at RMIT's School of Media and Communication, and had an unforgettable time working with the staff and students of the university, who were generous, talented and accommodating,” Pung said.
“I am so honoured to be invited to go to Guangzhou on this fellowship and hope I can give as much back to the group.
“What makes this trip even more special is that the South of China is where my family ancestry derives, and it will be the first time my husband and baby will visit China.
“I am very grateful that everyone at RMIT has as usual been so supportive, and I know it will be a highlight of our year next year. I feel like I am going back to my roots, as a writer.”
Michele Lee is an Asian-Australian playwright and author who works across stage and audio. Her memoir Banana Girl was published in 2013.
“I'm very honoured to be awarded the early career WrICE fellowship, and to be in a program alongside established and emerging writers,” Lee said.
“The older I get, and the more I think I inch towards wisdom or self-awareness, the more I feel as though I'm staring at a mirage.
“I think a fellowship like WrICE will help me shake up my own illusions, some new, some formed in childhood, and some long before that, inherited from my parents and theirs before them.
“And these useful ruptures will trickle into my imagination, into my keyboard, into writing.”
Fellows will contribute to a virtual community of practice through an ongoing digital online project space, as well as enjoy time and space for their own writing.
The residency will be followed by activity in Melbourne later in 2016, in association with the Melbourne Writers Festival, Footscray Community Arts Centre and Castlemaine arts.
WrICE Co-Director, Associate Professor David Carlin, said: “Since 2014, we have brought together 22 emerging and established writers from the across the region for collaborative residencies and public events in Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Melbourne.
“WrICE is forming a rich mosaic of connections between writers across the region, a creative community in which Alice Pung and Michele Lee will be both warmly welcomed and highly esteemed.”
Previous WrICE Early Career and Established Fellows include Melissa Lucashenko in Penang, Cate Kennedy in Vietnam, and Asia-Pacific writers Alvin Pang, Eddin Khoo, Xu Xi, Bernice Chauley, Laurel Fantauzzo, Robin Hemley, Suchen Christine Lim, Jhoanna Cruz, Nyein Way and Nguyen Bao Chan.
These writers were joined by emerging student writers Harriet McKnight, Jennifer Down, Laura Stortenbeker, Amarlie Foster, Melody Paloma and Joe Rubbo.
Maxine Beneba Clarke, WrICE inaugural Early Career Writer, said that her visit to Malaysia and Singapore offered her the most fundamental of resources for any early career writer: time and mind-space to write.
“Meeting other writers from diverse backgrounds reaffirmed my belief that in order to flourish, Australian literature must be locally grounded, but globally minded,” she said.
WrICE, a program of reciprocal cultural exchange and cultural immersion focused on writers and writing, is an initiative of the nonfictionLab at RMIT, generously supported by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.
Story: Emma Morgan