As a part of Peril’s partnership with Writers Victoria’s D-Writers CHINA initiative, this month’s project update features three local groups that are doing fabulous jobs in promoting Chinese Australian literature and literary.
Six months into Diverse Writers China Project at Writers Victoria, we have reached out to the Chinese Australian writing community in Melbourne and delved into the myriad of groups and networks that are contributing to the development of Chinese Australian writers and works.
While Peril has previously covered Marco Polo Project, there are a number of other groups whose work largely falls at the rim of the spotlight in Melbourne’s literary scene, thus are inconspicuous to many.
Melbourne Chinese Writers Festival
The Melbourne Chinese Writers Festival (CWF) has been the major biennial literary gathering for the local Chinese writers’ community since 1991. The festival is brought together by a gamut of Chinese literary and community groups, of which the leading lights are the Melbourne Chinese Writers Association, Aust-China Writers Associaion and Chinese Poets & Authors Society of Victoria.
The missions of CWF are to celebrate the achievement and development of Australian Chinese literature, cultivate a taste of Chinese literature in Melbourne, nurture emerging writers from the community, and to provide a platform for exchanging, sharing and cooperating between Chinese writers in Victoria, as well as their interstate and overseas counterparts so as to promote Australian Chinese literature nationally and internationally.
Although it is the vision of CWF to promote literary works written in English and literary translation, their entire membership is composed of Chinese Australian writers who write in Chinese. The festival remains a Mandarin-speaking event so far, but changes have started to occur with the introduction of discussion topics relating to translation of Chinese language literature in Australia in the 2014 festival.
In terms of the themes of writing, unsurprisingly, most of the local Chinese Australian works reflects migrant lives, yet the event has managed to bring to Melbourne a number of prestigious writers from China, including Nobel Laureate Mo Yan in 2013 and Yu Hua (‘To Live’, ‘Brothers’) in the festival which has just taken in August this year.
Looking ahead, we hope to support upcoming festivals to draw more attention from the wider literary audience in Melbourne to the event.
The Australia-China Youth Association (ACYA)
Not exactly a literary organisation, the Australia-China Youth Association is a tertiary student body with a broad mandate to promote engagement between young Chinese and young Australians. It aims to enhance cross-cultural understanding, develop academic and business partnerships, increase professional and educational opportunities, and build people-to-people connections.
While ACYA has long been a vibrant community that excels in holding activities across a multitude of social domains, they are venturing into promoting Chinese and English bilingual writing this year through their inaugural Bilingual Writing Competition.
Joslyn Ma, the President of the ACYA committee, pointed out that the rationale behind the competition is to raise public recognition for linguistic excellence and cultural literacy in Australia. This is an invaluable opportunity to nurture younger generation Chinese Australian writers, who are slowly gaining a voice among emerging writers in Melbourne.
A fairly new initiative, ChOzzie is an online platform for promoting and raising the profile of Chinese community organisations, groups and clubs from around Australia.
The Founder and Chief Editor of the site, Ting Cheng-Haines, saw that most Chinese events were only happening within the community. To attract attendees from the wider Australian society, she started the site to promote events through new media. Ting also works with Asian Television Australia Association (ATVAA) in filming documentaries about Australian Chinese families in Melbourne.
The Chinese Australian literary world is a land of prospects. The value of exploring the untapped was captured by Kate Larsen, Writers Victoria’s Director, at the opening of this year’s Melbourne Chinese Writers Festival:
“For too long, the portrait we’ve painted of Australia and Australians in the stories that we tell – on our stages, our pages and television screens – has not come close to reflecting the diverse communities that they are meant to represent,” she said, “But that’s starting to change. And it’s communities and festivals like this one that are going to make that happen.”
Change will come by looking both inside and outside our borders for information and inspiration. By bringing authors into Australia to share a rich literary history and thriving contemporary practice. By raising awareness of local writers who may otherwise have gone unheard. And by promoting the importance of self-told stories –
all of our stories, in all of the ways they can be told.
Would you like to participate in the D-Writers Project?
As part of the Diverse Writers China Project, Writers Victoria is compiling a list of Chinese Australian writers and organisations.
It will be made available to the public through Writers Victoria’s website. The purpose of the list is to facilitate networking between writers in the cohort, as well as for those who would like to tap into Chinese-Australian writings to have a starting point.
If you identify yourself as a Chinese-Australian writer based in Melbourne and would like to be on the list. Please email a 50-word bio and your email address to Wing Yi Chan, Project Officer of D-Writers China: email@example.com
For those concerned about spam/email security, Writers Victoria would like to publish the list as a downloadable document in the first instance. If, at a later date, the organisation does upload addresses directly to the website, their standard process is to do so as a hyperlink (e.g. ’email Wing Yi’) rather than as a full email address.