Fellowships support Northern Territory writers

NT Government

Fellowships support Territory writers

An experimental novel, combining documentary poetry with illustration and narrative verse, has won a Darwin author the opportunity to attend a two-week writer’s residency at the National Writers’ House, Varuna, in New South Wales.

Johanna Bell, who has previously twice won the NT Literary Prize for poetry and once for short fiction, will be joined by two other successful applicants, Dina Davis of Darwin and Betty Sweetlove of Alice Springs, at the residency in the Blue Mountains.

The Northern Territory Government has partnered with Varuna to support emerging and established writers through the fellowships.

Six other writers won virtual fellowships to gain access to writing consultants.

Funding of $16,000 will go towards recipients’ travel, accommodation and manuscript consultations costs.

The program provides professional development and profiling opportunities to NT writers to progress their new works through mentoring, networking and one-on-one consultations with nationally acclaimed literary professionals.

Applicants were required to submit between 6000 and 10,000 words from a manuscript and a synopsis of the entire work. For poetry, a selection of 10 poems was required.

Successful recipients for the in-house residency are:

Johanna Bell (Darwin) for Lyre Lyre, an experimental novel combining documentary poetry with illustration and narrative verse;Dina Davis (Darwin) for Assia, a sequel to the previously published novel ‘Capriccio’; and Betty Sweetlove (Alice Springs) for The Nestmakers, a screenplay exploring climate anxieties and disruptive dreams.

Successful recipients for the virtual residency are:

Jessica Wallace (Nhulunbuy) for Tidy Town, a literary fiction that tackles racism and social issues in a mining town;Leni Shilton (Alice Springs) for The Visit, poetry telling the story of an AusAid worker returning to Papua New Guinea (PNG);Judith Monkhouse (Darwin) for Bitter Rain, a literary fiction following a journalist returning to the corrupt dictatorship of her homeland;Linda Wells (Alice Springs) for The Bungalow, a creative non-fiction based on research about the Bungalow, a tin shed in Alice Springs in 1914-1929;Annie Ingram (Darwin) for The Mess She Left, a memoir reflecting on death, family, responsibility and inheritance; andOnil Lad (Darwin) for Auth Anon, a novel of misfiring writers and a community smitten with writing fever.

The partnership with Arts NT was established in 2016 to offer dedicated Varuna Fellowships to NT writers.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual fellowships were added to the program last year, increasing access and capacity building for NT writers.

Since establishment of the partnership, a total of 22 Territory writers have received professional development and mentoring support through the partnership.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Chansey Paech:

“The Territory Labor Government proudly supports the professional development of our writers and poets as part of our plan to grow a stronger and more vibrant arts sector.

“These fellowships are a fantastic opportunity for our emerging and established writers to work alongside professional writers to further their writing careers and are another example of the valuable incentives and grants offered to the Territory’s creative industries sector.”

Quotes attributable to Varuna Executive Director, Ms Veechi Stuart:

“We’re delighted to see such diverse and interesting voices coming from the Arts NT Varuna Fellowship program.

“This year’s submissions included experimental novels, poetry, memoir, narrative non-fiction and screenplays, covering a range of themes such as climate anxiety, racism, corruption and familial love.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the publications that emerge from this year’s program.”

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