Wise Words Abound

En­joy a writ­ers’ fes­ti­val or two this month in Vic­to­ria. By Jenny Burns.

Where Melbourne - - Contents - For more in­for­ma­tion and to pur­chase tick­ets for the Bendigo Writ­ers Fes­ti­val visit bendigowrit­ers­fes­ti­val.com.au and for the Mel­bourne Writ­ers Fes­ti­val visit mwf.com.au

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”.

Robert Forster at The Bendigo Writ­ers Fes­ti­val.

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