27 February 2024

Announcing the 2024 Kat Muscat Fellowship Shortlist

Express Media and the Kat Muscat Fellowship Committee are thrilled to announce the shortlist for this year’s Kat Muscat Fellowship, which offers support and development to a young Australian writer and/or editor of an underrepresented gender.

The 2024 Kat Muscat Fellowship shortlist is:

Vuma Phiri 

Vuma Phiri (she/they) is a Zambian-born storyteller. Vuma writes to honour their lineage and family, the first people to introduce them to oral storytelling. Their writing has been published in the anthology, Under the Paving Stones, the Beach, Black Ballad UK and SBS Voices. Vuma is among the 2023 recipients of the Centre for Stories Writing Traineeship, as well as assisting with the Centre’s story training program. Vuma is also a narrative spoken word poet who performs and reads her work for audiences throughout WA. 

Xiaole Zhan 

Xiaole Zhan (they/them) is a Chinese-New Zealand writer and composer based in Naarm. They are interested in the collision between language and music to explore themes of culture, the body and mental health. They were the winner of the 2023 Kill Your Darlings Non-Fiction Prize for their autobiographical essay Think An Empty Room, Moonly With Phoneglow exploring experiences of racism growing up in a mixed Pākehā-Chinese family, as well as the winner of the 2023 Charles Brasch Young Writers Essay Competition for their essay Muscle Memory exploring music, depression, queerness, and gender discrimination over time. They are the 2024 Buxton Contemporary Art Gallery Composer in Residence and the 2024 New North Emerging Artist Commission Recipient and their upcoming musical project sampling recorded student voices ‘comma means breathe,’ is a recipient of a 2024 Peter McPhee Community Impact Grant.

Olivia De Zilva 

Olivia De Zilva is a writer based in Kaurna Land/Adelaide. She was awarded the Deakin University Non-Fiction Prize by Express Media in 2019, shortlisted for the University of Queensland Press Mentorship Award and The Deborah Cass Prize in 2022. In 2023, she was shortlisted for the Richell Prize for Emerging Writers and 20/40 prize by Finlay Lloyd. Her work has been published in The Guardian, Westerly, Liminal, SBS, Cordite Poetry Review and Australian Poetry Journal among others. She is currently working on a full-length creative non-fiction manuscript about growing up in early 2000s Adelaide.

Isabella Trimboli 

Isabella Trimboli is a critic and essayist. Her writing has appeared in publications including The Nation, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Sydney Review of Books, HEAT and Metrograph Journal. In 2021, she received the Sydney Review of Books’ Emerging Critics Fellowship. She is currently a writer-in-residence at Seventh Gallery.

Marina Deller 

Marina Deller is a writer and critic with a PhD in Creative Writing from Flinders University. They tell stories of identity, bodies, and grief across forms and genres. Marina’s work appears in Voiceworks, Archer, Baby Teeth Journal, and Westerly, was shortlisted for the 2021 Rachel Funari Prize for Fiction and highly commended in the 2022 AAWP/Westerly Magazine Life Writing Prize. They are a recent recipient of the Island View Writers’ House Emerging Writer Residency and are the incoming 2024 Writer in Residence at The Mill. They live and create on Kaurna land.

Ursula Robinson-Shaw 

Ursula Robinson-Shaw is a writer living in Naarm/Melbourne. Her recent work has been published in Sydney Review of Books, Cordite and Overland. She is co-director of sick leave.


The 2024 Kat Muscat Fellowship offers professional development up to the value of $5,000 for an editorial project or work of writing by a young person aged 16-30. Now in its eighth year, the Fellowship aims to continue Kat’s legacy and further develop the future of defiant and empathic young Australian feminists.

The Kat Muscat Fellowship custodial committee were deeply impressed with the standard of applications this year. In an extremely competitive field, these six shortlisted writers blew the committee away!  Applicants demonstrated strong engagement with the values of ‘Defiance, Feminism Empathy’ through their writing and editing, whether personally, politically or creatively.

Kat Muscat was a brilliant young mind of the Australian writing community, whose formidable talent was demonstrated through her incisive writing and perceptive editing. Kat was an integral part of Express Media for many years, before becoming Editor of Voiceworks from 2012 to 2014. Throughout her 10 years with Express Media, Kat helped to shape the career of young writers and editors from all around Australia.

The Kat Muscat Fellow is selected by the Custodial Committee of The Kat Muscat Legacy Projects, which includes members of Express Media’s board and staff, the Muscat family and appointed community members. This year’s Fellow will be announced on March 7 2024.

The Kat Muscat Fellowship is made possible through the generous support of our community. Please follow the link below to make a one-off or regular recurring donation to support the development of empathetic and defiant young writers and editors.