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September 27, 2020 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

A special opportunity for writers awarded a Write On residency

International Lamplight Residency with Kao Kalia Yang, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Carol Major, and Graywolf Press


Join us for a very special online residency and enjoy the support of Write On, Door County and Varuna, the National Writer’s House, (New South Wales, Australia) the camaraderie of fellow writers from the USA and Australia, unique professional development opportunities, and the chance to use this unexpected time to build new connections and sustain your creative project in 2020.


Three places will be available for writers in Australia, and three writers in the USA. This program is only available to those writers who have been awarded a Write On residency. If you have been awarded a residency but it has not occurred yet or has been rescheduled due to COVID, you are welcome to apply. To apply, send an email of interest to Artistic Director Jerod Santek.

Australian participants are limited to Varuna Alumni, those who have previously received a Varuna Invited Residency or Quick Response Residency, or those who have been published by a trade publisher or journal.


This week-long online residency includes:

  • A one-hour online session (one-on-one) with Varuna Writing Consultant Dr Carol Major to talk about your current project
  • A one-hour online session (one-on-one) with Chantz Erolin from Graywolf Press, USA.
  • An online Q&A session with Kao Kalia Yang
  • An online Q&A session with Maxine Beneba Clarke
  • Daily facilitated professional networking opportunities with your peers throughout the week, including the opportunity to share work, talk about process, and receive feedback.
  • And finally, a social catch up with your peers with a recipe from beloved Varuna chef Sheila Atkinson to cook at home if you choose.

Places limited to six only. Three participants will be in Australia, and three participants will be in the USA.

Participants need to allow at least 1 hour at specific times every day for programmed sessions, with the expectation that you will spend at least three hours dedicated writing time each day (although this is flexible according to your own personal circumstances).

Participants will need a reliable internet connection, and a computer or mobile phone with a webcam and microphone.

The cost of the program is $250 for American participants. Participants will be selected through a lottery and will be sent the link for registration. Deadline to notify Artistic Director Jerod Santek of your interest taking part in the program is Monday, September 15.

Program dates: Sunday, September 27 through Friday, October 2. Please note that US writers will have their consultations with Dr. Carol Major prior to the start of the program. Some consultations with Chantz Erolin may occur after the program ends.


I’ve been on a high all weekend, contemplating this past week, rejoicing in the excellent conversations, feeling inspired to work in new ways. I’m bowled over by the possibilities that Zoom and the pandemic have created — and how fantastic that Write On and Varuna collaborated to make this happen. I hope you all continue!

And big, big thanks to Jerod, Amy, and Veechi for coordinating it and making it so seamless! And for bringing us Mark and Michelle, who were incredible, as expected. And thanks to Carol and Chantz for taking time to give my work such supportive attention. And fellow residents — I look forward to finding one another in the virtual (and some day the actual) world!

I would also like to express my gratitude! The week reconnected me with writing and reading, and thinking about my project. It was a privilege to read everyone’s work and I am very keen to continue this creative connection. 


Kao Kalia Yang is a Hmong-American writer. She holds degrees from Carleton College and Columbia University. The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir was a finalist for the PEN USA Award in Creative Nonfiction and the Asian Literary Award in Nonfiction and won the Minnesota Book Award for Creative Nonfiction/Memoir. The book is a National Endowment for the Arts Big Read selection and on the roster of the American Place Theatre’s Literature to Life Program.

Her second memoir, The Song Poet, received the Minnesota Book Award for Creative Nonfiction/Memoir and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN USA Award in Creative Nonfiction, Dayton’s Literary Peace Prize, and the Chautauqua Prize. The book has been commissioned as a youth opera by the Minnesota Opera and will premiere in the spring of 2021.

Yang’s debut children’s book, A Map Into the World, is an American Library Association Notable Book of the Year, a Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book and winner of the Northstar Best Illustrator Award and the Minnesota Book Award in Children’s Literature.

She co-edited the anthology What God is Honored Here?: Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss By and For Indigenous Women and Women of Color, a ground-breaking work that centers the poetry and prose of women whose voices have been neglected and silenced on the topic despite the fact that they experience these losses disproportionately. The book was named one of the ten best books of the season by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

In spring of 2020, her picture book The Shared Room, was published. A new picture book, The Most Beautiful Thing, and a collective memoir, Somewhere in the Unknown World, will release in the fall of 2020.


Maxine Beneba Clarke is a widely published Australian writer of Afro-Caribbean descent. Maxine’s short fiction, non-fiction and poetry have been published in numerous publications including Overland, The Age, Meanjin, The Saturday Paper and The Big Issue. Her critically acclaimed short fiction collection Foreign Soil won the ABIA for Literary Fiction Book of the Year 2015 and the 2015 Indie Book Award for Debut Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Matt Richell Award for New Writing at the 2015 ABIAs and the 2015 Stella Prize. She was also named as one of the Sydney Morning Herald‘s Best Young Novelists for 2015. Maxine has published three poetry collections including Carrying the World, which won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry 2017 and was shortlisted for the Colin Roderick Award. The Hate Race, a memoir about growing up black in Australia won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award Multicultural NSW Award 2017 and was shortlisted for an ABIA, an Indie Award, the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and Stella Prize. The Patchwork Bike, Maxine’s first picture book with Van T. Rudd was a CBCA Honour Book for 2017.



Graywolf Press is a leading independent publisher committed to the discovery and energetic publication of twenty-first century American and international literature. They champion outstanding writers at all stages of their careers to ensure that adventurous readers can find underrepresented and diverse voices in a crowded marketplace.

Graywolf Press believe works of literature nourish the reader’s spirit and enrich the broader culture, and that they must be supported by attentive editing, compelling design, and creative promotion.

Chantz Erolin works with poets through manuscript development and all stages of production as editorial and production associate at Graywolf Press, where he was the inaugural Citizen Literary Fellow. A poet and critic, Erolin’s writing can be found in the BelieverGood Job, and elsewhere. He lives on the Southside of Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he grew up.



Dr Carol Major has been a professional writer for over thirty years and works with writers across all narrative forms. Her skill is in drawing out the writer’s vision and matching it with crafting tools. She is originally from Scotland, later educated in Canada and now lives in the Blue Mountains of Australia, a location she feels holds the ingredients of all three landscapes in one place. Narrative voice is also a passion: who is telling this story to whom about what, and most importantly, why? What is the motive to tell? She believes it is a key ingredient in creating an authentic narrative voice.


Amy Sambrooke, Creative Director, Varuna the National Writers’ House & Blue Mountains Writers’ Festival

Amy has worked in the cultural sector throughout her career. Prior to joining Varuna, Amy spent eight years at the Whitlam Institute developing community and school programs and managing communications, marketing and outreach for the Institute’s public policy work and high-profile events program. Amy has worked as a producer and reporter for 702 ABC Sydney as well as in commercial radio. She has also worked as an arts publicist and media trainer.


Veechi Stuart, Executive Director, Varuna the National Writers’ House & Blue Mountains Writers’ Festival

Veechi’s career has taken her on many adventures, including working as a journalist, writer, editor, publisher and business consultant. Before working at Varuna, Veechi worked as a columnist at the Sydney Morning Herald and as Publishing Manager for Woodslane Press. She is the author of over a dozen non-fiction titles, including bushwalking guides for both the Blue Mountains and Sydney.


Jerod Santek, Artistic Director, Write On, Door County

Jerod is the founding director of Write On, Door County and currently serves as the organization’s Artistic Director. He has published poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in a variety of print and online literary journals, including PloughsharesHayden’s Ferry Review, and Blithe House Quarterly. He serves on the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission and the Washington Island Literary Festival committee. He has also served on the board of UntitledTown Book and Author Festival and of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP), where he represented Writers’ Conferences and Centers from 2009 to 2019.


Sheila Atkinson

Sheila is Varuna’s chef extraordinaire and has become legendary in Australia’s writing community for her wonderful meals for Varuna guests. While running her restaurant in Katoomba many years ago, she was asked to cater for meals for Varuna guests. For two years she did both jobs, eventually selling her restaurant because she loved the Varuna job more. Sheila’s many professional lives have included being a makeup artist for television, an organiser of arts festivals and a restaurateur.



September 27, 2020
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm