Announcing the shortlists for the 2019 Overland writing residencies

Generously supported by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation, the Overland writing residencies aim to address a lack of opportunities for underrepresented writers. The 2019 program has two categories: women writers who are the sole primary carers of one or more children, and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander writers at any stage of their writing careers.

During the residencies, the successful writers will receive a weekly stipend, private workspace at the Overland office and a mentorship with one of two extraordinary mentors, Jeanine Leane or Alison Croggon. The flexible residency model also allows for interstate applicants; if local, the residency will run for three months; if interstate or regional, the residency will run for one month (and include travel and accommodation costs).

We are very pleased to announce the following shortlists for the 2019 residencies:


Residency One –
for women writers who are sole primary carers

Amy Gray


Amy Gray is a Melbourne-based freelance writer whose work often focuses on feminism, politics, culture and parenthood. Her work has appeared in anthologies such as Doing It (QUP) and Choice Words (Allen & Unwin) and her articles have appeared in The Age, The Guardian, ABC, Overland and The Lifted Brow.

Amy is exploring motherhood through a feminist lens and how much of society’s sexism towards women centres around this. She’s been writing about feminism and motherhood for around a decade and want to put her thoughts and the vast archives of feminist research into a book.

Chloe Mills

Chloe Mills Res 1

Chloe Mills is a Brisbane-based writer and co-founder of literary zine Concrescence. Her work has been published in PASTEL Magazine, The Tundish Review, and the Within/Without These Walls anthology, among others. She has read, panelled and hosted for Queensland Poetry Festival, Avid Reader, QUT, and alongside David Malouf at the Saturday Poetry Series.

Chloe is working on a non-linear collection of poetry which explores personal trauma, and the grief healing process through themes of, suburbia, friendship, adolescence and pop-culture.

Grace Yee


Grace Yee writes poetry, short fiction and essays. Her work has appeared in Meanjin, Rabbit, Westerly, Southerly, Mascara Literary Review, Island, Going Down Swinging, Sleepers Almanac, Hecate, Women’s Museum of California, The Shanghai Literary Review, Poetry New Zealand Yearbook and elsewhere, and is forthcoming in Overland.

Grace is working on a collection of poems, ‘When We Elevated A Section of the Great Wall’, that responds to stories about Chinese people who settled in Australia before the Second World War.

Liz Allan

Liz Allan

Liz Allan recently completed her PhD in Creative Writing at The University of Adelaide and runs the Adelaide Writers Group. Liz was awarded the Rachel Funari Prize for fiction in 2018 and the JM Coetzee English and Creative Writing Prize in 2014 and her fiction has appeared in Overland, Verge, Yen Magazine, Aesthetica and Best Summer Stories 2018.

‘Equilibrium’ is a speculative fiction novel about Opal, a meteorologist born with thick, lizard-like skin who lives a world where there are only two kinds of weather events: drought and flood.

Lucy Van


Lucy Van is the poet speaking on the synth-pop Figures EP produced by Laila Sakini (Purely Physical, 2017), and the co-author of the long-poem Breaking Lines with Autumn Royal (2018). Lucy is completing a book called The Beginning of the Poem and teaches poetry at the University of Melbourne.

About The Beginning of the Poem: The beginning of a poem is an ideal place to think about the relationship between poetic intention and discursive play; a place to examine selfhood through the labour of writing and the notion of writing as property. By bringing the theoretical and practical act of beginning poetry into focus, this book offers a fresh understanding of the pertinence of authorial agency – a persistent category for writers of colour – in the wake of poststructuralism’s demystification of the primacy of the author.

Molly Murn


Molly Murn is a South Australian writer and poet. She holds a bachelor of dance, a masters in creative arts, and is a PhD candidate at Flinders University. Molly’s debut novel Heart of the Grass Tree was published with Penguin Random House earlier this year. She is also manager of independent bookseller Matilda Bookshop in the Adelaide Hills.

Molly is working on a poetry collection, ‘The Blue Archway’, which explores the notion of the threshold as an imaginative, sensorial, figurative and material site for creative investigation. The poems in the collection encounter the threshold in various ways. The collection is book-ended by poems that respond to the works of Australian artist Hilda Rix Nicholas, whose paintings from her time in Morocco in 1912 and 1914 are not only early experiments in the post-impressionist technique, but show a woman coming to terms sensitively with a place and culture very different from anything she had previously known. The title of the collection is an homage to Rix’s painting of the same name.



Residency Two –
for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander writers

Andrew Booth

Andrew booth

Sydney writer Andrew Booth won the 2015 David Unaipon Award for his manuscript: ‘The First Octoroon or Report of an Experimental Child’. He was joint winner of the 2016 inaugural Queensland Poetry Festival Oodgeroo Noonuccal Poetry Prize for his poem ‘Cut up song’. In a previous life he was a government adviser. He’s been making up stories for a while.

About ‘Writing the unspeakable’: Assimilation was a state-sanctioned program of applied scientific racism, intended to eliminate problematic Aboriginal people in Australia ‘by breeding out the colour’.

The language and ‘science’ of assimilation are obsolete, regarded as barbarous now and are referred to with discomfort or disdain, if it all: a disappearing, unspeakable subject. And yet, the author encounters first-hand, the enduring, living, intergenerational (epigenetic?) effects of assimilation on both sides of the ‘equation’. Who/whom?

The Overland Residency would enable the execution of a literary experiment on a scientific experiment; a work in progress, which the author commenced with his Unaipon-winning manuscript, a meditation/incantation on Assimilation, and the modern Australian experience of discovering that your birth was the successful outcome of a scientific experiment, such that he was completely assimilated until then. Or was he? Is un-assimilation possible?

Ljudån Michaelis-Thorpe


Ljudan Michaelis-Thorpe is an Indigenous writer/producer (emerging) with a background in Aboriginal health and community development. She currently sits on the board of WIFT Australia (Women in Film & Television) and advocates for the rights of women in the industry. Ljudan considers herself a wordsmith activist hoping to inspire change in the world or at the bare minimum a consideration to alternative perspectives.

Ljudan’s project is dedicated to her Nana who has recently become an ancestor of this land. It has led Ljudan to reignite ‘Behind Blue Eyes’, a novel destined to be a journey of identity for both the writer and the reader as tingles of the supernatural and hidden horrors of society inflict upon moral judgement and challenge choices. Can a young Aboriginal hip hop dancer turned vigilante win affection as she relieves the pain of child offenders by sending them back to their ancestors for redemption? Or is the moral high ground more comfortable. Or can compassion be found? This novel interrogates what it means to identify with one’s illusions, culture and deepest desires.

Meleika Gesa-Fatafehi

Meleika Headshot

Meleika Gesa-Fatafehi is pretty hilarious and laughs too much, so much that her Black/Indigenous and Pasifika ancestors are probably tired of her. Lucky she alternates burdening the two sides of her ancestry who are from Murray (Mer) Island, from the Zagareb and Dauareb tribes, and Tonga. She loves talking about all things nerdy, as well as decolonising spaces online and in real life. If she’s upset any of her ancestors while making this bio, she’s sorry.

In Meleika’s project, lyrical ancestral storytelling illustrates the story of Kiannawah, who is drowning from the effects of state violence, colonisation and magic, and who lives in a house built from the bones of a tree god. She tries to find answers to who is really behind the death of the boy the water swallowed up.

Sharlene Allsopp

Sharlene A

Sharlene Allsopp navigates many roles – wife, mother, charity worker, tutor, writer. Writing stories is her contribution to truth-telling – the incredible bravery and sheer lunacy of spilling story-ink onto paper in the hope that stories bind us together rather than tear us apart.

Sharlene’s project, ‘The great undoing’, is a novella that explores definitions of belonging – who’s in, who’s out and who decides. Scarlett Friday specialises in language; the careful construction of letters and words that unite some and exclude others, but she has become one of the most unsympathetic figures on Earth – an Australian refugee.

Susie Anderson

Susie Anderson CreditLeahJingMcIntosh

Susie Anderson uses words to reconnect with culture. A Wergaia woman from Western Victoria, her poetry and nonfiction have appeared in The Lifted Brow, Rabbit Poetry, un magazine, Artlink Australia and she was part of the anthology Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia. (Image credit: Leah Jing McIntosh)

Building on research begun at State Library of Victoria in 2018, this project is a collection of memoir-based essays about female Aboriginal contemporary artists whose work deals with, responds to or disrupts the archive.


new-MRF-logo-2015-300x221The 2019 Overland writing residencies are generously sponsored by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation, with in-kind support from Victoria University



Image: Patrick Fore / Unsplash


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