13 March 2019

Meet the young writers of Toolkits: Memoir

Headshots of our eight participants, very professional, very writerly.

We are pumped to be kicking off our first ever Toolkits Memoir program with 8 talented young writers from across Australia. In the Memoir streams inaugural year, we received many applications, making the selection process a difficult one.  For 12 weeks, these young memoirists will unpack the fundamentals of memoir storytelling, focusing on developing their work from conception to a first longform-draft.  The program will also cover the forms, skills, and ethics of writing memoir, combining theoretical approaches and practical exercises, and how to pitch ones’ work to publishers.

Toolkits: Memoir will be facilitated by award-winning writer and editor, Zoya Patel. Zoya is the Founding Editor of independent feminist journal, Feminartsy and her memoir No Country Woman is out now.  Zoya will facilitate the programs online sessions and workshops, providing one-on-one mentorship and individualised feedback to each young writer. For more information on our Toolkits and Toolkits: Live program (which you can participate in right now!) visit our website. But for now, say hello to the class of 2019!

Dženana Vucic, 28. Melbourne (currently studying in Glasgow)

Dženana Vucic is a Bosnian-Australian writer, editor and critic. She is currently undertaking a PhD in English Literature at the University of Glasgow. Dženana is a commissioning editor for The Lifted Brow, reads poetry for Overland and is the former Associate Editor for Arts, Culture and Books at In Review. She has been published in Going Down Swinging, Australian Poetry Journal, In Review, Film Focus, Dialect, Lip Magazine and Junkee.com, and has a poem upcoming in Rabbit. She hopes to write an autotheoretical memoir about the Bosnian war, her family’s experience as refugees, myth and history making and un/belonging. She is looking forward to developing her skills to do just that through Toolkits: Memoir. You can find her on twitter @dzenanabanana and on Instagram @dzenana.banana.

Haley Zilberberg, 23, Melbourne

Haley Zilberberg is a 23-year-old postgraduate student studying marketing communications at the University of Melbourne. Haley is passionate about disability advocacy and completed her Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Central Florida. She enjoys writing poetry and creative non-fiction, and freelances as a copywriter. She has been published in Quail Bell Magazine, Inklette Literary Magazine, Eunoia Review, First Class Lit, Farrago Magazine,Unseen Zine, and Loud Zoo, and she completed a writing residency at Sundress Academy for the Arts in Knoxville, Tennessee in 2018. She currently runs a column on living with disability for Farrago Magazine. Haley loves reading memoir and hopes Toolkits will help her with writing her own creative non-fiction pieces and hopefully, one day, a memoir. Haley has a selection of her published pieces online in her folio athaleyzilberberg.com.au/portfolio.

Jessie Berry-Porter, 27, Melbourne

Jessie Berry-Porter is a Melbourne based human studying a Masters of Writing and Publishing alongside a Graduate Diploma of Psychology after completing her undergrad in Creative Writing. She writes lyric essays, and is currently working on a manuscript centred on the relationship between ‘the unwell body’ (specifically body image disorders) and diagnosis. She’s curious about the aetiology of illness and the ways in which the ‘sick body’ is written down. Her desire to write about the aforementioned stems from personal experience: she’s struggled with anorexia and body dysmorphia since childhood and has found it difficult to locate relatable ‘embodied’ texts concerning the aforementioned. Meaning: anorexia and bdd are usually understood via academia (think: ungraspable) OR memoir (think: lacking validity). She believes the most effective way to reduce stigma is for those suffering to put their experience out into the world, in this case: to put it into words. However, in saying this, she also thinks merging the two (academia AND the lived-experience) demands a greater audience. Her work has appeared in places such as The Lifted Brow, Overland, Scum. In 2018 she was awarded second-runner-up in The Lifted Brow Creative Non-Fiction Prize, shortlisted for the Feminartsy Memoir Prize, shortlisted for the Scribe Non-Fiction Prize. She re-reads Joan Didion, Dennis Cooper, and Lacanian theory way too much.

Millie Baylis, 27, Melbourne

Millie Baylis is a writer of fiction and nonfiction. She grew up in the Dandenong Ranges and now lives in Melbourne, both on Wurundjeri land. She is currently working on personal essays about living with invisible chronic illness, in a world that venerates wellness, weaving threads of disability, pain, family history, violence, sexuality, privilege, care, grief and small joys. She studies Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT where she’s also working on short stories and the early stages of her first novel. During Toolkits: Memoir, Millie will develop two pieces to get them to a polished standard. She looks forward to having the accessible online space and mentorship to learn, gain feedback and find the right structures to best hold and shape her work, as well as having access to important conversations about writing family, loss and trauma and the ethics of writing memoir. Other than writing, she loves reading, especially Australian fiction, going for walks in the park with her housemate and her dog, and being in bodies of water.

Phoebe Paterson de Heer, 26, Adelaide

I am a writer and organic farm hand in coastal South Australia, working mainly in memoir and creative nonfiction. I have previously edited nonfiction for Voiceworks, received a 2018 Carclew Fellowship and had work published with Kill Your Darlings, Overland, Archer Magazine and Scum. I like researching and writing about regenerative farming, queer identity, feminism and chronic illness. I am hoping that Toolkits will help me with structuring my longform work, moving from writing essays and articles to defining and writing chapters of my first book. I’m looking forward to learning with and from the rest of the group about setting personal experience in a broader context.

Sarah Bryan, 29, Melbourne

Sarah (29) is a Melbourne-based body image coach, mental health advocate and an aspiring memoir author. In 2016, she started a blog about her experiences with mental illness and it was here she discovered the power of storytelling. Sharing her story has not only been a form of healing but also a source of empowerment for those with similar experiences. Sarah’s articles have been published by national and international mental health organisations. Although still passionate about mental health issues, Sarah has recently discovered her calling – helping women overcome negative body image as well as campaigning against unrealistic beauty standards. Through Toolkits: Memoir, Sarah hopes to gain skills that will help her create an engaging, powerful story as well as assistance with structure. It is really important to her that she is able to share her story in a powerful and effective way. You can find Sarah in all her body-positive glory on Instagram @kindfulbodymind

Victoria Ngu, 26, Sydney

Hello, I’m Victoria, but please feel free to call me “Vic”. I am 26 and live in Sydney where I work in digital marketing. I am a first-generation Australian brought up in an impossibly loving and supportive family. My father has led a particularly remarkable life, where, from humble beginnings in a sawmill in Borneo, he migrated to Australia as a teenager and has achieved much success over the course of the more than fifty years that he has studied, lived and worked here. I am currently working with my father on writing his life story in the form of a memoir. It’s been a rewarding and challenging experience so far and I look forward to delving into this format in the Toolkits program to help me with this project. I am hoping to focus on memoir structure, research and self-editing. I’m also looking forward to receiving useful feedback and guidance throughout the program from Toolkits facilitators.

Clare Doughty, 21, Sydney

Clare is a student currently living on Gadigal Land/Sydney. She is interested in experimental non-fiction texts and the range of ways these can look and sound. She is looking forward to learning more about memoir as a form as she is interested in observing text and language as a means to understanding individual and collective experience. She is excited to be given the chance to share and learn among a small group of emerging writers and through this program, hopes to work on methods of self-editing. She is especially looking forward to the week on Ethics and Memoir.