WrICE: the Writers Immersion and Cultural Exchange Program

[RMIT–Copyright Agency Asia–Pacific Partnership: A partnership led by RMIT University with support from Copyright Agency]

WrICE is a program of reciprocal cultural exchange and cultural immersion focused on writers and writing led by WrICE Directors Associate Professors David Carlin and Francesca Rendle-Short, and Clare Renner. The Copyright Agency Cultural Fund has committed to its generous funding of WrICE until 2017. Following a successful collaborative residency, public and on-campus events held in Malaysia and Singapore (2014) and Vietnam in (2015), the third WrICE collaborative residency took place in China (February 2016) and will again be followed by activity later in the year in Melbourne.

In 2015/16 the RMIT Copyright Agency Asia-Pacific Partnership Program (WrICE) has continued to generate reciprocal cultural exchange and cultural immersion, building and nurturing connections between Australian and Asian writers and writing.

WrICE China 2016

In 2016 the WrICE China collaborative residency took place in Yangshuo, China, with corresponding public events, including a panel discussion, readings and workshops at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou. The collaborative residency brought together the following writers and fellows from Australia and Asia: Peter Clynes (current student of creative writing and Mandarin at RMIT), Fan Dai (Chinese writer and professor of English in the Department of English, School of Foreign Languages, Sun Yat-sen University), Eliza Vitri Handayani (has published a novel as well as works in respected Indonesian literary outlets), Michele Lee (Asian-Australian playwright and author who works across stage and audio), Alice Pung (award-winning writer, journalist and essayist -one of Sydney Morning Herald’s Young Novelists of the Year 2015), Mary Rokonadravu (winner of the 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for the Pacific region), Ara Sarafian (Melbourne-based writer and editor), Maggie Tiojakin (Indonesian writer, journalist and translator), Mia Wotherspoon (Melbourne-based writer and editor, currently completing her final year of RMIT’s Associate Degree in Professional Writing and Editing),  Lawrence Lacambra Ypil (poet and essayist from Cebu, Philippines).

WrICE Vietnam 2015

Australian and Asian writers participating in the 2015 WrICE Vietnam collaborative residency, workshops and public events are: high profile novelist Suchen Christine Lim (Singapore); celebrated poet BaoChan Nguyen (Vietnam); Palanca Award winning writer Jhoanna Lynn B. Cruz (the Philippines); contemporary poet Nyein Way (Myanmar); acclaimed Australian author Cate Kennedy; performance poet, Malaysian-Australian hip hop artist and novelist Omar Musa, novelist Xu Xi (Hong Kong) and Australian writers Francesca Rendle-Short, David Carlin, Melody Paloma, Joe Rubbo and Laura Stortenbeker (RMIT University).

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WrICE Malaysia and Singapore

In 2013/4 WrICE brought together five emerging and established Australian writers with six outstanding writers from the across the region for a collaborative residency and public events in Malaysia and Singapore. The Malaysian and Singapore WrICE initiative involved five Australian Fellowship winners who travelled to Penang, and Singapore for an intensive program of immersion and cultural exchange in 2014. They joined six outstanding writers from across the Asia Pacific region, including four from Singapore and Malaysia. Leading Singaporean poet Alvin Pang, renowned Singapore-based writer Robin Hemley, and well-known Malaysian writers Bernice Chauly and Eddin Khoo joined Laurel Fantauzzo from the Philippines. The group of writers worked alongside each other and shared work in progress and cultural experiences during a specially designed collaborative residency in Penang followed by public events at Singapore’s Arts House in February and workshops for students at Yale NUS. The group also travelled to Melbourne to participate in the 2014 Melbourne Writers Festival.

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Australian-Caribbean writer and poet, Maxine Beneba Clarke, was the Early Career Writer Fellow in the inaugural program.

“The fostering of a strong Asia-Pacific writing community, and the exchange of ideas and experiences within that community, is vital to the growth and survival of Australian literature. The WrICE program offered me the most fundamental of resources for any early career writer: time and mind-space to write. Meeting other writers from diverse backgrounds who are also bringing their experiences to the page has reaffirmed my belief that in order to flourish, Australian literature must be locally grounded, but globally minded.”

ThisAsia Pacific Partnership provides unique opportunities for writers at different stages of their careers to connect and share ideas with other writers from different cultures and across generations. Through key events and the digital space Elsewhere the program allows the public to share in their discoveries.

Testimonials

Singaporean Novelist Suchen Christine Lim
“Nguyen Bao Chan, Cate Kennedy and I together with Francesca Rendle-Short had a great time shooting the breeze on stage at the National Library of Vietnam. We showed that poetry and story can bond us at a far deeper level than diplomacy. We wrote the clear sky just like the 3 iconic Chinese words carved on the side of the Pen Tower of Hanoi – “Hsieh Ching Tian” (“Write the Clear Sky”)

Australian Ambassador to Vietnam, Hugh Borrowman
“Cultural and people-to-people ties form an important foundation for our bilateral relationship with Vietnam. It is especially gratifying to see activities which are borne out of direct collaboration between individuals with a shared passion and institutions prepared to support them. I hope the WrICE program will continue to help build cultural understanding and collaboration between between Australian and writers from the Asia Pacific”

Francesca Rendle-Short
“Writers need to talk to other writers about their work, their culture, their writing life. The poetry of a place like Hoi An, the humanity of a town you can cycle around, infects your imagination and makes you write about it.”

Omar Musa, Australia
“I have long been interested in the overlapping cultures and societies of South East Asia and how they relate to Australia. I think it’s imperative that we as Australian artists engage with these cultures, as Australia is part of the region but often uneasy about its neighbours. As a person whose heritage straddles both South-East Asia and Australia, much of my work has dealt with this push-and-pull. I see this is a unique opportunity to explore a rich culture that is rapidly modernising, but has ancient roots, through poetry, music and art. I grew up in Queanbeyan and do my best work on a river, anywhere, so Hoi An was ideal for me. The residence was a unique combination of ages and experience; it was great to get a mix of different perspectives on my writing.”

Alvin Pang, Singapore
“As an alternative and promising prototype for quickly building connections between writers across borders, the WrICE model – regularly and judiciously proliferated across the region – could transform the region’s literary and cultural perspectives, serving as an accessible, authentic and regular milestone program for building up cultural understanding and collaboration over time.”

Maxine Beneba Clarke, Australia
“The fostering of a strong Asia-Pacific writing community, and the exchange of ideas and experiences within that community, is vital to the growth and survival of Australian literature, and of particular importance to me as a first generation Australian writer of colour …

Find Out More

For any general enquiries about WrICE please contact Project Manager Ali Barker alison.barker@rmit.edu.au

The program aims to contribute to an Asia-Pacific community of writers, sparking networks and connections and raising the professional profile of writers across the region. It provides a solid framework for intercultural dialogue — the exchange and furthering of knowledge, creativity, skills and cultural perspectives — that is underpinned by principles of mutual respect and a desire for genuine reciprocity.

Key Partners

In 2013/14 RMIT partnered with Yale University’s Singapore Campus, Yale-NUS, the Asia Pacific Writers and Translators AssociationThe Arts House, Singapore and Melbourne Writers Festival. In 2015 RMIT partnered with The National Library of Vietnam and continues to work closely with The Melbourne Writers Festival and the Emerging Writers Festival, as well as Footscray Community Arts Centre.

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At the heart of this program is the simple notion that there is great value in creating opportunities for writers (and writing students) to step outside their often isolated writing studios and familiar cultural environs to connect and share ideas with other writers from different cultures and across generations.

Furthermore, above and beyond the significant benefits of professional development for the individual writers, the project helps to develop an Asia-Pacific community of writing practice and to raise the professional profile of writers across the region.

Images courtesy of the George Town Literary Festival.