Memoir, poetry, spoken word and young adult fiction are among the works to earn their authors 2017 Write-ability Fellowships.
Five emerging writers with disability – Mary Borsellino (Williamstown), Sonia Marcon (Pascoe Vale), Jarrod Marrinon (St Kilda), Fiona Murphy (North Melbourne) and Jessica Walton (Pakenham) – have been awarded the fellowships and will receive mentoring, manuscript assessments or free attendance to workshops through Writers Victoria. Two further applicants – Maribel Steel (Wheelers Hill) and Michelle Vasiliu (Officer) – were highly commended and receive a year’s free membership to Writers Victoria.
“This is the fifth year we’ve offered the Write-ability Fellowships,” said Writers Victoria Director Kate Larsen. “This year was a particularly difficult decision, with a large number of high-quality projects entered from around Victoria. There’s been a growing focus on supporting writers from marginalised groups to tell their own stories, and that was a definite theme among this year’s applicants.”
This year’s successful fellows are:
Mary Borsellino (Williamstown): ‘The Alchemist’s Girls’
Mary’s dark fantasy/queer YA project explores what happens when two bickering teen witches save a city and fall in love. Silvie is a lesbian teenager with physical disabilities and falls for her rival and ally, bisexual Azura.
Sonia Marcon (Pascoe Vale): ‘There is a Space’
Sonia’s biography explores her journey from living a life without Multiple Sclerosis to living a life with it. While using different narrative styles, Sonia also plans to reflect her physical journey in the way the words are laid out visually on the page.
Jarrod Marrinon (St Kilda): ‘Jarrod Marrinon – My Story, My Life, My Feels’
A combination of fiction, biography and spoken word, Jarrod’s work is predominantly around disability and sexuality. He aims to push the boundaries both in content and the mainstream perception of disability and plans to publish the work as a zine, album and film.
Fiona Murphy (North Melbourne): ‘The Shape of Sound’
A collection of personal essays about learning Auslan, disability pride and Deaf culture, and what Fiona gained from starting to use the word ‘disability’. Fiona grew up in a hearing household and learnt to lip read. Deaf in one ear, Fiona didn’t think she was “deaf enough” to identify with the Deaf community. When she discovered hearing aids would never work for her, Fiona’s sense of certainty started to dissolve.
Jessica Walton (Pakenham): ‘Writing My Body’
Jessica’s collection of poetry, fiction and non-fiction will explore cancer, amputation, disability and chronic pain. The work has so far focused on poetry, and Jessica plans to add prose, letters, articles and essays to the collection.
Maribel Steel (Wheelers Hill): ‘Touching Landscapes’ is a collection of ‘touching travel’ stories written from the perspective of being vision-impaired, reflecting Maribel’s love for travel using all the physical senses.
Michelle Vasiliu (Officer): ‘Where Have You Gone Mum’ This contemporary middle grade fiction work is told from the point of view of 13-year-old Samantha, who’s mother is diagnosed with bipolar, and is a story of unconditional love and acceptance, growing up and having hope in the face of adversity.
About the Write-ability Fellowships
Previous Write-ability Fellowship recipients include Carly Findlay (2013), who recently signed a book deal with HarperCollins; Ashlee Bye (2015, ‘Out of the Shadows’) and disability and queer activist Jax Jacki Brown (2015).
A partnership between Arts Access Victoria and Writers Victoria, the Write-ability program aims to support Victorian writers with disability who want to develop their skills and writing careers.
Writers Victoria acknowledges the generous support of the Grace Marion Wilson Trust for this program. Write-ability is made possible by the support the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation. Write-ability is also grateful for the support of the City of Melbourne, Copyright Agency Ltd, the Ian Potter Foundation, the Australian Government through the Australia Council, and the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.