Melbourne Writers Festival 2017 Picks

Tickets for the Melbourne Writers’ Festival went on Friday, and what a program! Speakers include Joyce Carol Oates, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Clementine Ford, Robert Dessaix, Hera Lindsay Bird, Brodie Lancaster and John Safran.

I jumped on the website, credit card in hand… this is what I’ve booked in for. I’ll see you there, beautiful nerds.

Asia What? Beyond Authenticity presents a topic close to my heart. Writers Allison Chan, Ra Chapman and Melanie Cheng will each do a reading, before a brainstorming session in which they discuss the various stereotypes and narrative boxes Asians are limited by – and share speculative narratives of Asian Australia. Melanie Cheng’s debut novel, Australia Day, launched this month, to much hype and applause. A writer to watch.

In Second Generation Narratives, an amazing line up including Randa Abdel-Fattah, Maxine Beneba Clarke, AS Patrić and Alice Pung discuss the second-generation Australian experience. “How does an understanding of place, home and family inform storytelling – and increase understanding about migration?”

In Pop Culture and Feminism, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, Hera Lindsay Bird, Brodie Lancaster and Patricia Lockwood discuss how pop culture can help young women make sense of their place in the world.

I just bought Brodie’s new book, No Way! Okay, Fine, and I’m really looking forward to hearing her insights.

I’m excited by a program of six events under the umbrella of Protest and Persistence, which looks at political writing, activism and resistance. This includes Behind the Wire, the creators of critically acclaimed and much beloved (by me) podcast The Messenger – “Through audio, video and live storytelling, hear the urgent and necessary first-person narratives from narrators living inside immigration detention on Manus Island and Nauru.” A debate on Identity Politics, featuring Nayuka Gorrie, Adolfo Aranjuez, Sophie Black, Upulie Divisekera and Benjamin Riley promises to be topical and visit contested territories. I saw Nayuka speak at the Amazing Babes event at the Emerging Writers’ Festival in June and she was powerful and very funny.

In Cultural Appropriation, Celeste Liddle and Kamna Muddagouni “discuss the differences between cultural exchange, cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation, and outline examples of creative collaborations that honour cultural traditions instead of exploiting them.”

In Understanding Extremism, Nir Baram, Nancy MacLean and John Safran discuss what turns individuals towards political and religious radicalism.

There’s a great selection of events for schools,  younger readers and those interested in writing for them, including Graeme Base talking illustration, imagination and the animal kingdom, cartoonist Gregrory Mackay running workshops on creating characters and graphic novels, and a workshop around drawing Melbourne, run by illustrator extraordinaire Marc Martin. These will sell out fast if they haven’t already – so jump to it.

Lastly, I’m going to hit up Queer Literary Salon at The Toff. Hosted by Karen from Finance, this promises to be a  shindig of spoken word and shenanigans, including Hera Lindsay Bird, Norman Pasaribu, Laurie Penny, Raina Peterson and Omar Sakr. Standing room only, get amongst it.

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