Wise Words Abound
Enjoy a writers’ festival or two this month in Victoria. By Jenny Burns.
LOVERS OF THE WRITTEN WORD and critical thinking are in their element this month with the staging of two writers’ festivals in Victoria. The Bendigo Writers Festival is on from 11 to 13 August and the Melbourne Writers Festival from 25 August to 3 September.
Organisers of both festivals are promising plenty of fascinating talks, debates and entertainment.
Over 130 international and Australian writers, thinkers and commentators are attending the Bendigo Writers Festival.
The festival’s theme is “Where We’re At”, which is also the topic for the Opening Night conversation with writers and commentators including David Astle, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Leigh Hobbs, Rebecca Huntley and David Marr.
The festival includes over 80 sessions featuring talks from international bestsellers such as Dava Sobel, David George Haskell and Elizabeth Kostova, word wizards including Miles Merrill, Robert Dessaix, Bryan Dawe, Patti Miller, Marie Munkara, Michael Pryor and Brigid Delaney, as well as poets, scriptwriters, lyricists, cartoonists, novelists, memoir writers, crime writers and historians.
This year’s Melbourne Writers Festival is exploring revolutions past, present and future, from the pivotal Russian Revolution 100 years ago to social and political movements including the Arab Spring protests and Occupy Wall Street.
“This is the perfect time to think about revolution,” explained festival director Lisa Dempster.
“It feels like we’re at a turning point on so many fronts—global politics, race relations, the future of media in this country.
“This year’s festival is about finding hope in new and different voices.
“Together we will look at the biggest issues of the day with fresh eyes, bringing together the best, boldest and most interesting writers, thinkers and activists from Australia and around the world.
“We’re listening to the people leading the resistance, who can bring us out of dark places and into the light.”
Around 400 guest presenters are taking part in the festival, and the concurrent Schools’ Program, with over 300 events planned.
Guests include multi-award-winning novelist Kim Scott, who is giving this year’s opening night address. Author of “Benang”, the first novel by an Indigenous writer to win the Miles Franklin Award and “That Deadman Dance” which also won the same award, Scott is founder and chair of the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Story Project, which has published a number of bilingual picture books. Scott is also Professor of Writing in the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts at Curtin University.
American TV personality, transgender rights activist and bestselling author Janet Mock is presenting “Visibility and Voice”, a discussion on the power of storytelling in media and popular culture and the history of trans women in feminist, LGBTI and social justice movements.
Mock is the host of MSNBC’S “So Popular!”, a weekly digital series about culture and The New York Times bestselling author of “Redefining Realness and Surpassing Certainty”.
Renowned author and activist Micah White is also speaking at the festival. White is author of “The End of Protest” and the award-winning activist who co-created Occupy Wall Street, a global social movement, while an editor of Adbusters magazine. Widely recognised as a pioneer of social movement creation, White has been named by Esquire magazine as one of the most influential young thinkers alive today.
British journalist Reni Eddo-lodge has spent half a decade writing, thinking and speaking about racism. Before she was a full-time writer, she was a blogger and activist. During that time, The Guardian listed her as one of the 30 most exciting people under 30 in digital media. She has also been listed in Elle magazine’s 100 Inspirational Women list and The Root’s 30 black viral voices under 30. This year she published her first book “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race”.