Bernice Chauly
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Writer. Poet. Teacher. Festival Curator.
Born 1968, George Town, Penang, Malaysia


2014          Honorary Fellow in Writing at the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program (IWP),                     Iowa City, USA

1990           B.Ed (Hons) TESL and English Literature, University of Winnipeg, Canada

1986           Collegiate, University of Winnipeg, Canada

1986           Sixth Form, Marlborough Girls College, Blenheim, Marlborough, New Zealand.

1976-1985   Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, Ipoh, Malaysia

Publications and Literary Awards:

2019              Incantations/Incarcerations, Gerakbudaya Books – poetry

2018/17       Once We Were There, Epigram Books Singapore-London -novel Wins ‘Readers’ Choice                                       Awards’ 2018, Fiction category, and ‘The Penang Monthly Book Prize’ 2017.

2013               Onkalo, Math Paper Press, Singapore – poetry

2011               Growing Up With Ghosts, Matahari Books, Kuala Lumpur – literary memoir wins ‘Readers’                              Choice Awards’ 2012, non-Fiction category.

2008              The Book of Sins, Mulut Mata, Kuala Lumpur – poetry

2008               Lost in KL, Oxygen Press, Kuala Lumpur – short fiction

1997                going there and coming back, Rhino Press, Kuala Lumpur – poetry


Jentayu (2015), A Subtle Degree of Restriant and Other Stories (2011), Tautan – Contemporary Poetry from Germany and Malaysia (2011), Our Voice Anthology Vol 4, International PEN, Biblioteca de Textos Universitaros, Argentina (2007), Orang Macam Kita/People Like Us – an anthology of alternative poetry and prose (2010), Readings from Readings Vol 1 & 2 (2011, 2013), Nineteen – a collection of stories by women (2003), Silverfish New Writing 1 (2001)

Literary Festivals/Residencies/Fellowships:


Cairo Literature Festival, Egypt


international literature-festival berlin(ilb) – supported by Heinrich-Böll Foundation

Writer’s Residency in the Inman Valley, South Australia – supported by    Writers South Australia (Writers SA)

Melbourne Writers Festival, Australia

Adelaide Writers Week, Australia

NZ Writers Week, Wellington, New Zealand

Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters, Trivandrum, India


Momentum Delegation to Edinburgh Book Festival, Edinburgh – supported by the British Council and Creative Scotland

Writer’s Residency at Taipei Artist Village, Taipei – supported the Ministry  of Culture, Taiwa

Executive Leadership Programme: Leading Culture in the 21stcentury, King’s College London – supported by the British Council and King’s College London

Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, Bali, Indonesia

Singapore Writers Festival (SWF)


Co-curator of Read My World, International Literature Festival, Amsterdam


Writing fellowship at the International Writing Program (IWP), University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA

Writer-in-residence at Sitka Island Institute, Alaska

Worlds Literature Festival, Norwich, UK

WrICE (Writers Immersion and Cultural Exchange) RMIT Australia and Yale-NUS – Singapore & Penang


Singapore Writers Festival

Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, Bali, Indonesia

Asian Pacific Writers Network Conference and Literary Festival Bangkok, Thailand


Writer-in-Residence with Nederlands Letterenfonds (Dutch Foundation for Literature), Amsterdam, Netherlands

Writers Unlimited, Winternachten International Literary Festival, The Hague, Netherlands

Makassar International Writers Festival, Indonesia


Winternachten Literary Tour (International Literary Festival, The Hague, Netherlands) in the Dutch Antilles (St Maarten, Aruba, Curacao) and Suriname (South America)

Winternachten Literary Tour in Cape Town, South Africa

Asian Literary Festival, Guwahati, Assam, India

Writing Across Cultures, City University & The Man Literary Festival, Hong Kong


Utankayu International Literary Biennale, Jakarta, Indonesia


Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, Bali, Indonesia


Kuala Lumpur International Literary Festival, Malaysia

Literary Landmarks:

1997 Co-founder of Rhino Press, independent publishing house, publishes 11 original Malaysian titles, including the landmark Black and White Series

2005 Founder of Readings, Malaysia’s longest-running literary platform, now in its tenth year

2011 Festival Director of Writers Unlimited Tour KL/Makassar

2011-2018 Founder/Director of the George Town Literary Festival, Malaysia’s largest international literary festival

2015 Founder/Director of KL Writers Workshop, the first content/literature development agency in KL

2015 Co-festival Curator at Read My World, International Literature Festival Amsterdam


2010 Directs short film Creatures for HerStory, a collective short film project on women and sexuality in Malaysia. First all-female film festival in Malaysia

2004 Writes 31 Candles, all-woman play. Directed by the award-winning Zahim Albakri

1998/2000 Conceptualises, writes, narrates and photographs six-part documentary series Semangat InsanMasters of Tradition. Groundbreaking, award-winning documentary series on folk-art forms and ritualistic traditions of Malaysia

1998 Writes play 3Lives performed at the 8th Asian Monodrama Festival Kuala Lumpur and at Actor’s Studio, KL. Directed by the late Krishen Jit. Receives critical acclaim

1996 Writes and co-directs documentary Bakun Or the Dam? Focuses on the plight of the native population in Sarawak, Borneo, on the building of the controversial Bakun Dam. Commissioned by Friends of the Earth

1994 Writes and co-directs short film, Child’s Play

Writes monologue Interview With A Prostitute. Performed at the British Council, KL by noted actress Faridah Merican. Receives critical acclaim.

Photography Exhibitions:


In Search of Muslim Youth  – commissioned by the Goethe-Insitut Malaysia and the Friedrich-Naumann Foundation, UKM. Solo exhibition


Through The Looking Glass – A Malaysia-Singapore Contemporary PhotographyExchange. The Annexe Gallery, Kuala Lumpur and 2902 Gallery, Singapore. Group Show


A Wave of Responsive Images, Photos by Malaysian Photographers. Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey. Group Show

A Wave of Responsive Images, Month of Photography, Nikon Ginza Salon Gallery, Tokyo, Japan. Group Show

A Wave of Responsive Images, Higashikawa Museum, Hokkaido, Japan. Group Show

Same But Different, Wei Ling Gallery KL. Group Show


Black and White Fest – Diversity; showcase of 10 Malaysian photographers working in film, Annexe Gallery, KL. Group Show


Sharing Space; Contemporary Photography of Malaysia+Japan, Group Show, Annexe Gallery, KL. Group Show


in:sights:out, Reka Art Space, Solo Exhibition, KL

Silent Stills, Gallery XOAS, KL. Group Show    au naturel, Darling Muse Art Gallery, KL. Group Show


Scripted Bodies, Reka Art Space, KL. Collaboration with photographer Nazim Esa. Group ShowArt Around 1000, Valentine Willie Fine Art, KL. Group Show

Lecture on Painting, Valentine Willie Fine Art, KL. Two-woman show with acclaimed Indonesian performance artist ArahmaianiPeople and Places, International Group Show. KL International Photography Biennale (KLIP), Gallerie Taksu, KL.

Face to Face – Confronting the Humanity of Refugees in Malaysia. Solo Exhibition in collaboration with UNHCR Malaysia. KLPAC (Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre). Solo Exhibition. Launched by H.R.H Raja Nazrin Azlan Shah, Crown Prince of Perak

A Closer Look. Maya Gallery, KL. Group Show

Spirit of Wood and Other Treasures, Gallerie Taksu, KL. Group Show

Art Auction in Aid for Tsunami, Frangipani, KL. Group Show


A Personal Journey Through Italy, The Photographer’s Gallery. Solo Exhibition, KL.

The Inner Winds, Mois de la Photographie, Alliance Francais, KL. Group Show in memory of Henri Cartier-Bresson

Guest Speaker at the Architectural Association (AA), International conference on architecture and art, London, England


Most Successful Women (2013) – awarded by Jessica Magazine Malaysia, one of ten women honoured

Reader’s Choice Awards (2012) – Third Prize, Non-Fiction Category for Growing Up With Ghosts

Samsung Ultra Honours (2006) – in recognition of three outstanding Malaysians, only woman awarded

Anugerah Seri Angkasa for ‘Profil Seni’, Best Documentary Series (2006) – as writer, director

Neutrogena Neuwoman Award (2005) – one of five Malaysian women honoured
Kakiseni Cameronian Art Awards for Best Play (2003) – as actor in an ensemble

Gold Award for Best Documentary, Malaysian Video Awards (2000) – as writer, narrator, photographer
Silver Award for Best Documentary, Malaysian Video Awards (1999) – as writer, narrator, photographerSilver Award for Best Short Film (Professional), Malaysian Video Awards (1998) – as writer, co-director
Red Ribbon Award from Malaysian AIDS Council, One by One Festival (1995)  – as writer, actor


1990 – 1991 Ipoh Language Training Institute
1991 – 1992 Federal Religious School, Labu, Negeri Sembilan.
1993 – 1995 ISKL (International School KL)

2003 – 2008
Cenfad College of Art and Design – Liberal Arts and New Media Departments

Courses taught:
Creative Writing, Screenwriting, Play and Screenwriting, Literature and Composition, Film Appreciation, Women’s Studies in Literature, Documentary Production

2004 – 2008
Sunway University College (SYUC), Department of Performance and Media

Courses taught:
Creative Writing, Screenwriting, Play and Screenwriting.

Sunway University College (SYUC), School of Business and Law

Courses taught:
Life and Literature in a Changing World

2012 – 2015
American Degree Program, School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Taylor’s University

Courses taught:
English Composition and Creative Writing

2015- present

University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM)

Courses taught:

Beginning Creative Writing 1 & 2 (Prose, Poetry, One-Act Play), Prose and Poetry, and Creative Writing Workshop (Poetry and Prose,) Poetry – Form and Conten, Writing for Performance – BA and MA in English Language and Creative Writing.

2018 – present

Writing mentor/instructor for Authors At Large



Print articles and fiction/poetry pieces have appeared in World Literature Today (USA), Men’s Review, The Malay Mail, Harper’s Bazaar, Persimmon Magazine (New York), Der Spiegel (Germany), Cleo, Off the Edge, Utusan Malaysia, Art Corridor, Going Places.

Selected prose and poetry translated into Arabic, Dutch, Bahasa Indonesia, Bahasa Malaysia, Papiemento, Spanish, Sarantango, Afrikaans and German.

Interviews have appeared on BBC World Service, The Mekong Review, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Far Eastern Economic Review, The Jakarta Post, WSWS (World Socialist Web Site), The Nutgraph,

Films and documentaries have been shown at the Singapore International Film Festival, Ethnofilmfest Berlin, Asian American Film Festival, 6th Thai Short Film and Video Festival, Experimento Shorts Manila, Swedish Television, BBC and SBS Australia

Commissioned essay by World Literature Today, feature essay called Writing.a Life Back into the World. May, 2016.


Judge for the inaugural Hawker Prize for Southeast Asian Poetry (2018)

Judge for the Singapore Literature Prize, non-fiction category (2014)

Guest speaker at Asian Design Forum, Studio X, Beijing, China on the theme ‘Design and Time’ (2013)

Guest Speaker at the Architectural Association (A.A), international conference on architecture, film and art, London, England (2004)

Mentor for Digi, ‘Apostrophe’ programme for young artists/writers in Malaysia (2007/08/09)

Host for international conference, “Who Speaks for Islam? Who Speaks for the West?” (2006)

Jury member for 9th and 10th Malaysian Video Awards (2004/05)

Chief Judge for 1st Malaysian Freedom Film Festival (2004)

Jury Member for 13th Singapore International Film Festival (2000)

Fluent in English, Bahasa Malaysia and Cantonese

Single mother of two gorgeous girls

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