19 June 2017

Meet the young writers of Toolkits 2017

We’re stoked to be kicking off Toolkits 2017 with 16 talented young writers from across Australia. In just the second year of the Toolkits program, we received 98 applications, making the selection process a difficult one. We’re excited to introduce the 8 young writers selected for Toolkits: Fiction and 8 poets and poets-to-be taking part in Toolkits: Poetry. For 12 weeks, these young writers will be learning the ins and outs of creative writing and poetry from the best in the business, including facilitators Jennifer Down and Melody Paloma. For more information on our Toolkits and Toolkits: Live program (which you can participate in very soon!) visit our website. But for now, say hello to the class of 2017!


Phoebe Nagorcka-Smith, 26, Victoria

My name is Phoebe Nagorcka-Smith, I’m 26 years old, and I live in Portland, Victoria, which is by the coast about half way between Melbourne and Adelaide. Through my work and study, which involves a lot of research report writing, I’ve come to appreciate the power of story in changing people’s hearts and minds, where facts and data just aren’t enough. I enjoy writing anything – whether it’s stories, non-fiction, or poetry – but am particularly looking forward to working on my narrative and character development through Toolkits. Some of my favourite writers are Rebecca Solnit (‘Men Explain Things to Me’ and ‘A Field Guide to Getting Lost’), Tim Winton (‘Cloudstreet’), and Judith Wright (various poems).

Anneliz Marie Erese, 25, Victoria

Anneliz Marie Erese focused on essay and journalistic writing up until she finished high school. While taking up a Science degree, she spent her spare time writing short stories and poems on her journals, and on platforms such as Tumblr and WordPress. She moved to Victoria from the Philippines to pursue a career in the literary industry. She is currently writing her master’s thesis on how prose poetry can be used to abolish literary genres. She has been immersing herself in the arts and literary scene by volunteering at events such as the Independent Publishing Conference, Asia TOPA, and the most recent Emerging Writers’ Festival. Inspired by these experiences, she founded and co-edit, with a small team, an arts and literature digital magazine for Filipino creatives called ALPAS Journal. She writes fiction, non-fiction and poetry. She enjoys literary fiction the most and is hoping to have a book published someday. Her bookshelf consists of authors such as Ann Patchett, Margaret Atwood and Annie Dillard. Through Toolkits: Fiction, she wants to strengthen her writing techniques and sharpen her editorial skills. She is also looking forward to meeting and learning from her mentors and emerging writers like herself.

Emilie Morscheck, 20, Victoria

Emilie Morscheck is the 20-something author of several short stories and multiple unpublished novels. Her online works, including her first novel, on Wattpad.com have over 40,000 reads. She is currently Canberra based, but her whereabouts tend to shift with time. Emilie has edited creative content for the Australian National University’s student paper Woroni, and helped to launch the Woroni creative magazine. She is a frequent participant in National Novel Writing Month and is an avid reader of the fantasy genre. When she’s not studying, Emilie enjoys critiquing books, films and games. Toolkits is the next stage in her writing career as she searches for motivation and inspiration to write more in between the moments of everyday life. Toolkits is also an opportunity to further develop her editing skills. Find her on twitter doing twitter things at @PranxtorGlade.

Wesley Robertson, 26, Western Australia

My name is Wesley, and I write. That’s what I do. I also draw when I can, and read anything I find. I’m interested in intersections: the meeting-places of ideas, genres, the in-between spaces and the conditions of boundary-living, and how language can become something else. I am interested in people and how people become characters (or maybe the other way ‘round), and especially in how people become art. I write stories, and occasionally try poetry. I have two novels awaiting editing and rewriting, and dozens of stories in Word documents, sundry notebooks, and ensconced in my head. I have published stories in The Ranfurly Review and Aerodrome. Like so many others, I’m an immigrant to Australia. Early in 2017, my wife and I moved from South Africa to Perth, where I’m carving out my own space in the Australian landscape and establishing my identity as an Australian resident. Having lived most of my life hours away from the sea, I am now fifteen minutes away from the ocean that captures my imagination and strengthens my spirit. I hope to gain from Toolkits a greater sense of the reader: how to write a story that wants to be read. I have a Twitter account: @WesleyPRobably

Bhavya Kulathunga, 15, South Australia

I’m 15 and hail from the tiny island nation of Sri Lanka, which is my most influential inspiration source when it comes to breathing life into my stories. I moved to Australia in 2010 and am currently residing in Adelaide. Apart from writing, I enjoy debating, doodling and drawing, learning French, playing volleyball and (last but not least) musical theatre. I enjoy reading and writing poetry and I won the SAETA Budding Young Poet Award in 2015. This year I am excited to develop my character building and descriptive vocabulary through Toolkits and can’t wait to see where this opportunity will lead me.

Meagan McKelvie, 20, Queensland

My name’s Meagan and I’m a 20 year old living in Townsville, QLD. I’m currently completing a Bachelor of Medicine at James Cook University. Therefore, my days are usually filled with philosophical discussions about bodily fluids rather than books. Not that I don’t enjoy talking about lung mucus, but I’m excited to join Toolkits Fiction and put my passion for creative writing back into focus. My writing education thus far has mainly come from consuming as many books as I can and getting those words down on paper. It’s been fourteen years since I picked up a pen and scrawled my first story onto the back of a tax invoice, and I have no intention of stopping anytime soon. During the program, I’m hoping to learn as much as I can about language technique, character development, and how to stop myself from side-lining writing in lieu of my studies, because both are of equal importance to me. I like to write and read contemporary, historical, and young adult fiction and fantasy. Mostly, I love books that are intellectually and emotionally stirring, that are dark and unflinching, and that’s how I also aim my writing to be.

Scott Limbrick, 27, New South Wales

I’m a writer in the process of returning to Melbourne after a few years working and studying in the UK. I’ve had non-fiction and short comedy pieces appear in places like Voiceworks, VICE, Junkee and SBS Comedy, but am hoping to improve my ability to write fiction and am excited to meet others with the same goal. I’m particularly interested in developing the imagery and narrative structure of my work, as well as in looking at different approaches to editing my own writing. I’m also looking forward to learning from others and getting out of my comfort zone in terms of what I read and write. Recently I’ve been reading more short story collections, and loved Julie Koh’s Portable Curiosities and Nic Low’s Arms Race, though am generally a bit of a sucker for novels with multigenerational stories. I’m on Twitter at @ScottLimbrick.

Joseph Rohan, 24, Queensland

I, Joseph Rohan, a 24-year-old from Brisbane, am only just beginning my writing journey. I want to focus on creating authentic realities in which my characters can exist and to mold my babble of words into a more structured, polished narrative. I wish to explore, in my own work, the anecdotal style of storytelling that novels such as On the Road, and Impossible Vacation, in short, energetic pieces of flash fiction.


Anna Jacobson, 29, Queensland

Anna Jacobson is a twenty-nine-year-old Brisbane poet, writer, and artist. Her poetry has been published in literary journals including Cordite, Rabbit, Australian Poetry Journal, Tincture and Verity La. She is one of The Red Room Company’s commissioned poets for ‘Poetry Object 2017’. In 2016 she was shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Young Writers and Publishers Award, the Scribe Nonfiction Prize and the University of Canberra Health Poetry Prize. She was shortlisted for the 2015 Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize. Anna is currently undertaking her Master of Philosophy (Creative Practice), specialising in poetry at QUT. As an artist and writer, she is excited to be part of Toolkits: Poetry and is especially looking forward to the poetry and visual art workshop with Bella Li. Anna’s website is www.annajacobson.com.au


Sheena Colquhoun, 26, Victoria

Sheena Colquhoun is an artist and poet who graduated from Fine Arts (Honours) at Monash University in 2014. She is looking to exploit language and negotiate with metaphor, somehow. Primarily a video artist, Sheena is interested in finding a middle ground between filmic imagery and poetic imagery. She is interested in notions relating to power, ideology and politics. Through the toolkits program she is hoping to formalise an understanding of poetic voice, and use it as an opportunity to write in a more sustained way. She’s excited to learn from the diverse and talented voices of the poets in the program, and connect with other like-minded people. Sheena has self published a collection of poetry titled “i’ll drop everything”, been published in UK based journal Tender, and is one of two editors of an art/poetry online publication titled “Vinegar”. She was the recipient of the Sunshine Coast New Media Art award in 2015. She has exhibited locally at Seventh Gallery, West Space and Bus Projects as well as internationally. sheenacolquhoun.com

Bilal Hafda, 23, New South Wales

Bilal a high-school teacher, with a passion for spoken-word poetry. Alongside running poetry and creative writing workshops in schools, he is currently involved in the RESPECT program, which are a series of Creative Arts Domestic Violence workshops that run with upper-primary students who have been flagged as potentially ‘at risk’ as having witnessed domestic violence at home, or have shown a tendency towards violence themselves. He is also a member of the Bankstown Poetry Slam and is constantly looking to facilitate and nurture the voice of the participants of the slams and audiences who attend them.

Darlene Soberano, 19, Victoria

Darlene Silva Soberano is a 19-year-old poet who immigrated to Australia from the Philippines at an early age. She is now based in Melbourne, Victoria. She is currently in the process of completing a Bachelor of Arts at Deakin University with a double-major in creative writing and literary studies. Her work has been published in Mascara Literary Review. Through Toolkits: Poetry, she hopes to develop the habit of producing poetry to a deadline, meet other poets, and have an overall good time. You can find her on Twitter at @drlnsbrn, but she doesn’t know how to tweet and won’t learn.

Raelee Lancaster, 22, Queensland

I’m a Wiradjuri woman who grew up on Awakbakal land for a majority of my life. I am currently based in Brisbane, QLD. My academic background is in ancient history and heritage studies. For me, poetry is an escape from the futilities of adulthood and a tool I use to make sense of a senseless world. My poetry is often biographical, with a lot of it dedicated to exploring my Aboriginality. I have also begun writing a poetry series based off Suetonius’ Twelve Caesars. My previous writing experience includes contributing to and editing for Grapeshot – Macquarie University’s Independent Student Publication, and co-writing and producing a history revue for two consecutive years. I have also had a poem published in Rabbit Journal Issue 21: Indigenous. Through Toolkits: Poetry, I hope to develop my editing skills further, improve upon my poetic structure, and be part of a fantastic community of emerging writers. I can be found on Twitter and I have recently begun keeping a blog.

Jason Lie, 21, Victoria

Jason once made the mistake of telling someone he was a poet, so now he has to keep up this elaborate lie because people keep asking him where they can find his work. Of course, it’s not actually a lie — he’s always wanted to write poetry and occasionally does. He stumbled upon it while studying at Victoria University where his teacher encouraged him to write and submit. His poems, which centre on the themes of sexuality and gender, have been published in Offset and The Suburban Review. He is quite pride of the poem he submitted to Offset 2016 that was about breaking into someone’s house to collect their dandruff and toenails as love tokens. Speaking of eagerness, Jason is looking forward to being a part of Toolkits: Poetry where he can engage with other poets and experiment with whatever he learns during the weeks. He’s currently working as the Editor-in- Chief of Victoria University’s Hyde Magazine. For his general musings and weekly crushes, follow him on Twitter @AnotherJasonLie.

Georgia Kartas, 28, Tasmania

Georgia Kartas is a 28-year- old writer and editor living in Hobart. Georgia moved from the mainland in early 2016 to work on her first novel, and ended up working in an apothecary. But she’s inching towards the finish line and, along the way, discovered that she really likes writing poetry (having previously only explored prose). Since moving to Tasmania she has performed at several spoken word events, established and coordinated the Hobart chapter of Writers Bloc’s monthly writing group, and performed at an underground poetry event as part of Dark Mofo. Now, she is working towards performing more, and collaborating with multidisciplinary artists to transpose some of her poems onto screens. While she is learning a lot from experimenting with and reading poetry, Georgia knows she will gain a whole gamut of inspiration and knowledge from Toolkits. She is looking forward to how Toolkits will give much needed feedback on her current body of work, plus arm her with tools and concepts she can draw from in future. Georgia also co-runs and edits online journal Red Magpie. Her Twitter handle is @gee_kart.

Ellen O’Brien, 24, New South Wales

I am a law graduate and baby poet with Guringai ancestry, currently living and working on Gadigal and Wangal land. My poetry was recently published in Rabbit and my non-fiction work has been published by Overland online, Voiceworks and Vaein Zine. I love words and the noises they make when they are put together, and through Toolkits: Poetry I hope to learn how to relinquish some control over my creative processes, while also learning to tighten and refine my writing. I’m looking forward to experimenting more with rhyme and rhythm, and I also want to explore ways to bring visual art and musical concepts into my poetry. As a writer interested in building community and healing myself and others through writing and creative practices, I’m excited to connect with other poets and sensitive souls through the Toolkits program. You can find me lurking on Twitter under the handle @aquarianbeb.