Fiction and Poetry

McKenzie, Vahri (2019). Normal milk. In M. Granger et al. (eds.), Storyfire: Winning stories from the Stuart Hadow Prize: 2005-2018 (pp. 187-192). Swanbourne, Australia: The Fellowship of Australian Writers WA.

Research statement: The work explores the gap between language and communication through innovative use of artificial language, techniques of compression and omission, and the theme of intergenerational miscommunication. Narrated from the perspective of a single mother who struggles to understand her adolescent daughter, the user of the invented language, where this is read both as a literal artificial language and as a representation of miscommunication. Reviewed by Susan Midalia in Westerly Magazine. Earlier versions of the work Commended in Peter Cowan Writers Centre 600-word Short Story Competition 2014, and published in The Geographe School Chapbook (2016).

McKenzie, V. (2017). Beer-n-bubs. In S. Corletto, A. T. Matthews, J. M. Miller and L. Washington (eds.).  Crush: Stories about love. Rundle Mall, Australia: Midnight Sun.

Research statement: The work adopts the first-person voice of a young man to explore performances of gender in fiction, probing the performative nature of voice in fiction to convey an authentic character. It emerged from research project Underscore Alchemy that applies a performance-based creative process to a writing workshop, offering a structure for writers to explore embodied strategies normally used by performers to develop character.

McKenzie, V. (2016). Likes to measure. In M. Sala and G. Osborne (eds.). Newcastle Short Story Award Anthology 2016. Newcastle, NSW: Hunter Writers Centre.

Research statement: The work formally experiments with the possibilities of non-narrative prose, developing strategies that include the poetics of catalogue (listing structures). It thematically explores the possibilities and limits of measuring value in creative arts via the analogy of the protagonist cataloguing many ways to measure herself, literally, and offering ironic closure with the continual improvement of measuring tools. Written during an awarded Fellowship at Varuna Writer’s House with Tegan Bennett Daylight and shortlisted in the national Newcastle Short Story Award.

McKenzie, V. (2014). Against the grain. Gargouille 1, 19-27.

Research statement: Autofiction that traces a physical and emotional journey, challenging genre divisions and prompting the reader to question pleasure and authenticity in narrative voice. Themes include the natural world and indigenous world views. It appears in the inaugural edition of Gargouille, bi-annual literary journal edited by Melbourne-based poets Sarah Wreford and Adriane Howell. The work was Highly Commended in the Down South Writers Short Story Competition 2012 and Highly Commended in the Margaret River Short Story Competition 2013.

McKenzie, V. (2013). “Philogyny #3.” In L. J. Christensen (Ed.), Poetry d’Amour2014: Love poems (p. 134). Inglewood, Australia: WA Poets Inc.

Research statement: The work is in traditional Shakespearean sonnet form, which has a long association with love poems, but plays with persona and voice in unexpected ways. The title plays on the philogyny/phylogeny pun with a focus on female anatomy and floral taxonomy. Inverting Shakespeare’s formula, it addresses a female subject but may speak from a male or female perspective, a provocative and playful focus on ambiguous sexuality and female genitalia.

McKenzie, V. (2013). I shine not burn. In R. Rossiter (Ed.), Knitting and other stories (pp. 92-102). Witchcliffe, Australia: Margaret River Press.

Research statement: Autofictional family history that creates an authentic narrative voice, performing careful work along the fine line between life writing and creative writing. Themes include grief, memory, and the extent to which knowledge of the past may be destructive to following generations. The work won the South West Writer Prize for the national Margaret River Short Story Competition.

McKenzie, V. (2011). Complications. dot dot dash 7, 56-58.

Research statement: ‘Complications’ plays with the several meanings of the word to investigate unstable identity in the modern subject. With privileged access to interiority and psychology that is akin to thought, this fiction directly engages with mistaken identity to deepen investigation. First person point of view is used with innovative effect, where a complex narrative structure blurs the neat distinction between two protagonists.