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black&write! fellowships 2022 recipients announced

The 2022 black&write! fellowships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers have been awarded to Queensland Elder Herbert Wharton and Lay Maloney from Victoria.

Each fellowship is worth $10,000 and includes editorial development from the State Library of Queensland’s (SLQ) black&write! editorial team, and consideration for publication by Hachette Australia.

A stockman-turned-writer and a descendant of the Kooma people, Wharton started writing poetry and yarn-like novels in his 50s and has published short story collections, poetry and a young adult novel. Wharton’s winning manuscript ‘Bird Kingdom’ follows Gundu, a mischievous young boy who thinks he and his cat can hunt all the birds of the sky. When Gundu is suddenly transported to the bird kingdom, he faces the consequences of his actions.

‘I see winning this fellowship as acknowledgement and acceptance of Aboriginal ways of looking at history that have been for thousands of years before books were written,’ said Wharton. ‘Birds are so important because they tell stories about things like law and order and, marriage. Animals and birds tells stories just like a book does. You learn from them like going to school or university.’

Lay Maloney, a Gumbaynggirr and Gunggandji person of South Sea Islander descent, was born in Cairns and raised in Yarrabah. Maloney is a storyteller with a focus on writing and illustrating. Their debut work ‘Weaving Us Together’ is a young adult manuscript about a non-binary Aboriginal person named Jean growing up on Australia’s mid-north coast. The story follows Jean through adolescence as they transverse the ups and downs of life, including finding family, healing trauma and figuring out who they are.

‘This gonna mean so much to me, my Mob, my community, my friends and my family not just currently but in one, two generations. Those stories that have been ignored, shushed and hidden away are emerging again,’ said Maloney of winning a black&write! fellowship.

‘During the 2021 Naarm lockdown I was reflecting a lot on my childhood. My friends, my family, my dad, my place, my search for identity and belonging, and all the tears and laughter that had come and gone. The characters became my children. While I wrote they were real people with personalities and struggles. The story was all I thought about for months.’

The judges also announced four highly commended entries. They are:

  • Edoardo Crismani for ‘Finding Billy Brown’
  • Bebe Backhouse for ‘if this is the end’
  • Samantha Faulkner for ‘Growing Up in the Torres Strait’
  • Jacob Gallagher for ‘The Doubles’.

Now in their 11th year, the fellowships are open to all writers (published and unpublished) of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent currently living in Australia, across the genres of adult fiction, young adult fiction, short story collection, poetry collection and children’s book manuscripts. The winners of last year’s black&write! fellowships were Susie Anderson and Tylissa Elisara.

For more information about the black&write fellowships, see the SLQ website.

KYD, black&write! announce First Nations editors-in-residence

In related news, Kill Your Darlings (KYD) and black&write! have announced Nadia Johansen and Bianca Valentino as KYD’s First Nations editors-in-residence for 2022.

From June, Johansen and Valentino will commission, edit and publish original writing for KYD, building on the work of previous editors-in-residence Allanah Hunt and Jasmin McGaughey.

Black&write! editing interns gain hands-on editing experience to by helping black&write! fellows develop their manuscripts for publication, receiving support, training and mentorship from the black&write! team.

Pictured L–R: Herbert Wharton, Ley Maloney.


Category: Awards Local news