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Centre for Stories

More Than Just A Number: A Conversation with our Elders in Residence

Please join us to celebrate our elders in residence – Sunil Govinnage, Dennis Haskell, and Kaylene Poon.

Aug 17, 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Centre for Stories

Please join us to celebrate our elders in residence – Kaylene Poon, Dennis Haskell, and Sunil Govinnage  – for a conversation about their work, making a life-long career in the arts, their experiences as residents at Centre for Stories, and what they hope for the next generation of creatives, which will be facilitated by Lakshmi Kanchi.

Our Elder-in-Residence program was launched thanks to our Community Fund donors. With their generous support, we were able to provide a space at Centre for Stories for three months for Kaylene, Dennis, and Sunil to write, share their stories and connect with our emerging creatives, with a $3000 stipend for their time.

Light catering provided.



Kaylene Poon is a fourth-generation Chinese Australian, born and raised in Perth. She grew up in Northbridge next to the Chung Wah Association Hall in James Street. Her parents John and Win Fong were active members of the Chung Wah Association and were responders to the welfare needs of the elderly Chinese community up until the early 1970s. Kaylene’s projects have included: the Chinese Pioneers’ monument at the East Perth Cemetery; conservation of the Chinese red silk banner, now on display at WA Museum Boola Bardip; and the newly unveiled Memorial Gardens at Karrakatta Cemetery for the exhumed remains from East Perth Cemetery. Kaylene continues to research, curate exhibitions, and disseminate Chinese history in WA, and conduct oral histories and spend time with her extended family. In 2011 she was inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame to acknowledge her voluntary work in the Chinese community for over 30 years.

Dennis Haskell was Co-editor of Westerly magazine from 1985-2009 and is a Senior Honorary Research Fellow at The University of Western Australia. He is the recipient of the Western Australia Premier’s Prize for Poetry, the A A Phillips Prize for a distinguished contribution to Australian literature (awarded by the Association for the Study of Australian Literature), and of an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from The University of Western Australia. He has won local and national teaching awards, and has served as Visiting Professor and Poet at universities and literary festivals in England, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Scotland, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, The Philippines and the USA, as well as many locations in Australia. He is a Member of the Order of Australia for ‘services to literature, particularly poetry, to education and to intercultural understanding’.

Dr Sunil Govinnage (PhD) is a bilingual poet and writer. Born in Sri Lanka in 1950, Sunil migrated to Boorloo (Perth) with his family in 1988. He has been writing poetry in Sinhala since 1965 and in English since 1989, with work exploring the core themes of diasporic identity and belonging. He has worked as a full-time civil servant in Western Australia from 1988 to 2014. He also worked as a visiting lecturer teaching sociology and social justice from 2005 to 2008 at the Notre Dame University, Fremantle.

Lakshmi R Kanchi, pen name SoulReserve, is an emerging Western Australian poet of Indian descent. Her poetry explores love and its tumultuous and fantastical and zesty nature through allegories that provoke thought and evoke tender feelings. Lakshmi’s writing anatomises the complex linkages between history, language, culture and perception. She is the current Poet-in-Residence at The Wetlands Centre Cockburn. She is the recipient of the 2021 Pocketry Prize for Unpublished Poets and her poem ‘Watermarks’ was shortlisted for the South Coast Writers Centre’s 2022 Poetry Prize. You can read her published works in Across Vast Horizons, Poetry d’Amour – 2019 & 2020, Letters To Our Home, The Saltbush Review, Recoil 12, Blue Bottle Journal, Burrow Journal, Brushstrokes II and Creatrix.



Our Elder-in-Residence program would not be possible without the generous support of Community Fund donors, while Story Lounge would not be possible without the Humich Group who donated the Hay Street Mall shopfront to activate the CBD for local writers and artists, as well as financial support from the City of Perth and Australia Council for the Arts.


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