Arts NT Fellowships 2017

Congratulations to the writers who have been awarded aN NT Varuna Residency Fellowship for 2017.

The writers awarded a 2017 Varuna Residential Fellowship are:

Courtney Collins (TE) to work on the development of her novel The Walkaman Mix 

Karen Manton (TE) to work on the development of her novel The Sure Ebb of the Tide 

Fiona Dorrell (CD) to work on the development of The Honeycomb Stone

Christopher Raja (CD) to work on the development of his novel The Tiger and the Serpent

Jo Dutton (CD) partial fellowship to work on the development of her short story collection Making Home - Apmere Mpwarente



This is the first year that the NT Varuna Residential Fellowship has been offered and there were 23 applications, 12 from the Central Desert area and 11 from the Top End. Fields of creative writing represented in the applications included general and literary fiction, literary non-fiction, junior and young adult fiction, poetry and theatre. Applicants ranged from aspiring and emerging, to mid-career and established.

Prior to the meeting, all assessors examined the applications in relation to the selection criteria and allotted each application a score between 1 and 5, with 5 indicating that the application met the criteria to a high standard. On the basis of the aggregated scores, a shortlist of 12 applications was compiled, 6 from the Central Desert and 6 from the Top End. It should be noted that the overall standard of applications was very high, and that there were many talented writers who put forward interesting and stimulating proposals, but who were unfortunately not successful in this round.

There were three assessors for this fellowship: two from the Northern Territory and one from the Blue Mountains. The meeting was facilitated by the CEO of Varuna, Jansis O’Hanlon. All assessors were asked to disclose any perceived conflicts of interest including personal and professional relationships at the start of the meeting. The shortlisted applicants were then discussed in relation to the stated selection criteria.

In relation to the criteria examining distinctiveness of voice and the power of the central idea, assessors were impressed by support material that was striking – writing that they felt quickly drawn into, that made them want to read more, and that left a lasting impression. This impression, of course, is achieved by a huge range of different devices – striking and original imagery, a lack of clichés, good flow in the writing, strong characterization, descriptions that draw the reader in, questions of plot and character that give rise to intrigue and interest, and strong poetic expression.

Support material presented could be at any stage of development – from early drafts to manuscripts nearing completion. It was, however, vital that the viability of the project was made apparent; that is, that there was clear relationship between the support material and the stated goals of the fellowship. Successful applicants needed to lucidly articulate the benefits of the fellowship by outlining a detailed and realistic work plan, and by presenting a well-considered budget that was in line with their fellowship goals. The statement of benefit needed to demonstrate how the fellowship would assist the writer in their creative and professional development.

The assessors were very impressed by the overall quality of the applications, and it was very difficult to draw the line on who would be successful in this fellowship.

Vera Costello