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Poet Caitlin Maling awarded inaugural McAuley Fellowship

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Ecological poet Caitlin Maling will tap into some deep Tasmanian roots when she takes up a new $10,000 creative fellowship at the University of Tasmania.

The West Australian writer, whose most recent book was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, is the inaugural recipient of the James McAuley Creative Fellowship.

Dr Maling will spend two weeks in Hobart in July writing, taking a masterclass for students and speaking at a public event at The Hedberg.

She said a family connection to Tasmania was a major reason for her interest in the fellowship.

“Although I grew up and live in Perth, my parents and extended family are Tasmanian,” Dr Maling said.

“My grandparents still live up the Derwent Valley in the same town where my grandfather was a GP for over 50 years.

“This is partially why I'm so excited about this opportunity.

"It will allow me to work on a project responding to James McAuley's poems on the rivers and valleys around Hobart, places where I've spent so much time but never written about.”

The fellowship is named after one of Australia’s most distinguished poets and Professor of English at the University from 1961 until his death in 1976. Dr Maling said she would retrace McAuley’s steps to write in the places his poems are set during her stay in Tasmania.

“As any creative will tell you, it's thrilling to have time, space and resources provided to do your work and I'm very grateful to the University of Tasmania and the James McAuley Memorial Fund,” she said.

Caitlin Maling has published four books of poetry. Her most recent, Fish Work involved her working alongside scientists at the Lizard Island Research Station on the Great Barrier Reef, translating their research into poems.

Dr Maling has appeared at major events including the Perth Festival and teaches creative writing at Curtin University. Her fifth volume of poetry, Spore and Seed, will be published by Fremantle Press in July.

“Caitlin Maling’s poetry uses playful language to explore urgent questions about the environment,” McAuley judging panel member Dr Emmett Stinson said. “It is formally and linguistically inventive line-by-line, but never wilfully obscure. It is a pleasure to read and to re-read.”

The James McAuley Creative Fellowship is offered by the College of Arts, Law and Education and the School of Humanities at the University of Tasmania, with support from the James McAuley Memorial Fund.