Five writers from the Asia Pacific will take part in collaborative residencies in China and Melbourne, as part of RMIT’s Writers Immersion and Cultural Exchange Program (WrICE).
WrICE is a program of reciprocal cultural exchange and cultural immersion focused on writers and writing initiated by the non/fictionLab at RMIT and generously supported by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.
The writers awarded WrICE fellowships in 2016 are Mary Rokonadravu (Fiji), Lawrence Lacambra Ypil (The Philippines), DAI Fan (China), Eliza Vitri Handayani (Indonesia) and Maggie Tiojakin (Indonesia).
They will join Australian writers Alice Pung and Michele Lee on their residences along with RMIT writing students Peter Clynes (Bachelor of Arts (Creative Writing) and Diploma of Languages in Chinese), Ara Sarafian and Mia Wotherspoon (Associate Degree in Professional Writing and Editing) in Guangzhou and Yangshuo, China.
WrICE Co-Director, Associate Professor Francesca Rendle-Short, said the Asia Pacific writers would make a wonderful contribution to the rich cultural mix that the program was known for, along with Australian writers with Anglo, Cambodian and Hmong heritages.
“I can't wait to hear what sort of conversations all these writers will have together across the WrICE table and through the sharing of writing and their culture,” Rendle-Short said.
“I have no doubt it will be a genuine exchange of the highest order."
Fan, a Chinese writer and Professor of English at Sun Yat-sen University, will host the group travelling to China.
She said the group could look forward to time writing in Yangshuo, Guangxi Autonomous Region, followed by a public reading, cultural activities and anthology launch in Guangzhou.
"The Sun Yat-sen University Centre for English-language Creative Writing cannot wait to welcome the WrICE group for this special opportunity to interact with local people and culture," Fan said.
Fijian writer Mary Rokonadravu works as Communications Manager for WWF-Pacific. She ran a Creative Writing Program in seven prisons across Fiji then edited the Pacific’s first anthology of writing from prisons, shedding silences.
A poet and essayist from The Philippines, Lawrence Lacambra Ypil’s first book of poems, The Highest Hiding Place, won the Madrigal Gonzalez Best First Book Award.
Lacambra Ypil said WrICE would give him the chance to think what it means to be a writer in the Asia-Pacific region with its particular historical conditions and aesthetic traditions.
“Working in the company of other writers will allow me to explore these concerns and how they shape the trajectory of my own writing," he said.
Indonesian writer Eliza Vitri Handayani has published works in the Asia Literary Review, and Griffith Review “New Asia Now”. Her novel From Now On Everything Will Be Different was published by Vagabond Press in 2015.
Vitri Handayani said WrICE would enable her to get plenty of insight into the literary scene and conditions for writing and publishing in the countries where the other participants are working in.
“That awareness can help to increase literary traffic between the countries, as we may see opportunities to market and promote works in countries we wouldn’t consider before," she said.
Maggie Tiojakin, also an Indonesian writer, said writing was a solitary work through which we were able to forge an intimate bond with complete strangers.
“So much of what goes into one's writing has to do with compassion, invention and tradition and WrICE is the kind of program that strongly supports these elements, while creating a beautiful platform for cross-cultural creative dialogues," she said.
Story: Alison Barker and Wendy Little