Isabelle Li

grew up in China, worked in Singapore and migrated to Australia in 1999. Her collection of short stories, A Chinese Affair, was published by Margaret River Press in 2016. Her short stories have appeared in various literary journals and anthologies, including The Best Australian Stories and Southerly. She translates poetry from English to Chinese and has published in World Literature in China. Her translation of Australian poet Mark Tredinnick’s poetry collection, Almost Everything I Know, was published in two languages by ASM in Macau. Her script “Mooncake and Crab” was made into a short film, funded by Screen NSW and premiered at the 60th Melbourne International Film Festival. Isabelle was a recipient of the 2014 Varuna Fellowship. She received her Master of Arts and Master of Creative Arts from UTS, and is currently studying her Doctor of Creative Arts at Western Sydney University while working on a novel.

Research practice

My thesis aims to explore the formal textural quality of the poetic novel, decode its inner workings, identify and name its typical features, distil the craft to render such features visible, establish a methodological framework and formulate a set of effective writing techniques. I will concentrate on the poetic vision and the metaphorical and imagistic coherence of the poetic novel, but will also touch on various other elements of narrative discourse and aspects of style. I will introduce the Chinese literary device, Xing, which is an evocation of ‘feeling’ through reference to external ‘scene’. In contrast to mimesis, Xing is predicated on the metaphysics of unity, in which the world and the self are holistically integrated. Another concept I will explore is dream as a metaphor for the poetic novel. I am also interested in the multitude of translations of desire in the embodied language of the poetic novel.


A Chinese affair, Margaret River Press, 2016.