2019 Varuna Residency Fellowships


Congratulations to the writers who have been awarded a Varuna Residency Fellowship for 2019.

This year we received 267 applications for Varuna Residency Fellowships. Submissions included applications from writers at all stages of their writing lives. Peer assessors read each applicant's submission and proposal and the 24 fellowships were decided upon through criteria that included the artistic merit of the work and the potential for development.

Thank you to all of the applicants who submitted their work for consideration this year.

On behalf of all at Varuna and the peer assessment panel we wish you well with your future writing.

The writers awarded a 2019 Varuna Residential Fellowship are:


Awarded for applications of outstanding quality these fellowships The Eleanor Dark, Dr Eric Dark, Mick Dark and Varuna Poetry Flagship Fellowships are each for three weeks. The Henry Handel Richardson Fellowship for Short Story Writing is a two-week fellowship.

The Eleanor Dark Flagship Fellowship is awarded to Jacqui Brown for her Young Adult speculative fiction novel Nodding Donkeys of Cannon. Set in 1983 in the dystopian environment of a country Australian oil town, six teenagers discover the oil beneath the town is alive. They must solve the secrets of the town's strange past to save everyone they know. This award was established in memory of Eleanor Dark and is awarded for a fiction application of outstanding quality.

The Dr Eric Dark Flagship Fellowship is awarded to Kerri Shying for her poetry collection Know Your Country. The poems in the collection are a reflection on the experiences of growing up mixed race in this country and move in a narrative way through the social and physical spaces of the Wiradjuri/Chinese/Australian writer. This award was established in memory of writer and social activist Eric Dark, and is awarded for a non-fiction application of outstanding quality in social, historical or political writing.

The Mick Dark Flagship Fellowship is awarded to Amy St Lawrence for Last Time it Rained. In these short stories and novella, women must find ways out of being stuck, lost or grieving. Many regret what might have been, all hold out hope and some discover the strength for reinvention. This award was established to honor the legacy of Varuna benefactor and committed conservationist Mick Dark, and is awarded to a writer who is working on a manuscript of outstanding quality in the area of environmental writing.

The Varuna Poetry Flagship Fellowship is awarded to Nick Trakakis for Autumn Manuscripts. The project is to provide the first translation from Greek to English of Tasos Leivaditis' posthumously published prose-poetry volume Autumn Manuscripts, widely regarded as the author's most acocomplished work. This fellowship is awarded for a poetry collection of outstanding quality.

The Henry Handel Richardson Fellowship is awarded to Imbi Neeme for her short story collection Naamah's Ark (and other stories). The collection is about the women who live in the shadows of other people's narratives. This Fellowship is offered in partnership with the Henry Handel Richardson Society, and recognises the life and legacy of Henry Handel Richardson as a significant Australian author. The fellowship is awarded for excellence in short story writing, and is awarded every second year.


Residential Fellowships are awarded to writers currently developing a new work of high potential and offer the writer a two-week residency at Varuna to continue the development of their manuscript.

Claire Varley for Clancy No One, a novel exploring three generations of the Greek-Australian diaspora and how what comes before, shapes what comes after;

Morna Seres for Cloud Failure, a novel which follows the seven-day journey of a dysfunctional adult family thrown together on a cruise going up the inside passage of Alaska;

Jessie Cole for Desire, a memoir exploring the impact of childhood trauma on the development of intimate adult relationships;

Pip Williams for Dictionary of Lost Words, a novel. In 1901, the word Bondmaid was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it.

Rosanna Licari for Earlier, a poetry collection;

Carolyn Gilpin for Ella, a young-adult novel. When Ella's cousin drowns, their small town is divided about the odd circumstances. A year on, trespassers on their farm trigger events that unearth family secrets;

Tobias McCorkell for Everything In Its Right Place, a novel about a teenager who must come to terms with the trauma of his childhood in order to navigate the complexities of his present life;

Helen Meany for Free Fruit for Kids and other Fictions, a collection of short stories that explores the sometimes dark side of the contemporary Australian psyche through our conflicted relationship with technology and the natural world;

Louisa Lim for In Search of the King of Kowloon, narrative non-fiction about how a quest for hard facts about a mysterious, penniless trash collector who became a national icon turned personal;

KA Rees for Junkland, a short story collection looking at the strangeness of human experience;

Leni Shilton for Malcolm a story in verse. A story in verse about a young man who is living on the edges of society in Melbourne's CBD, determined to survive;

Yvette Walker for Nazimova, a novel about Alla Nazimova who brought Stanislavsky and Chekhov to America, became a silent film star, then almost lost it all;

Lisa Siberry for Orla Osmond – Trouble in Paradise, a children's book about a 12-year-old budding filmmaker who unravels a behind-the-scene mystery on her father's film set in Hawaii;

Krystal Sutherland for The Halfway, a novel. When Iris's eldest sister goes missing (again), she must solve the mystery of what happened to them as kids;

Sidney Walls for The Parisites, a dark comedy about a narcissistic poet who flees to Paris to escape a violent deed;

Jennifer Hauptman for Through the Valley, an Australian gothic novel about a church community affected by a mass psychogenic illness;

Lucinda Gifford for Wolves in Scotland, a children's junior fiction book about a family of distinguished wolves who travel to Scotland;

Alex Philp for Women of the Pond, a novel. The tension between two sisters reaches breaking point after the younger becomes infatuated with a pregnant teenager;

Tracy Farr for Wonderland, a novel. Marie Curie meets Alice in Wonderland in a novel about reproduction, curiosity, and the lightness of being.

Clive Jones