Wollongong Writers Festival is excited to announce one of its best-ever lineups of authors, poets, journalists, artists, comedians and musicians for its seventh annual festival later this month.
The theme of this year’s festival is All Lit Up .
Writers from across Australia will gather at Wollongong Art Gallery from November 22-24 to celebrate the power of writing and art for illuminating topics that have been silenced, have stigma attached to them, or need to be spoken about in new and more complex ways.
Festival Director Chloe Higgins has curated a diverse range of voices and events for shining a light on subjects that would otherwise remain in the dark, including Benjamin Law tackling the big topics of sex, death, money, religion and politics with Clementine Ford , Stephanie Wood and Jess Hill .
Behrouz Boochani , author of No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison, will be in conversation with author Mark Isaacs via Skype. Bri Lee and Tony Birch will be on a panel on crime and punishment. Charlotte Wood will be discussing her latest novel, The Weekend , and Gabbie Stroud , author of the memoir, Teacher , will be on a panel on education and what we want for our children.
“This year, we wanted to show our gratitude to the writers displaying tremendous courage in publicly exploring topics many of us aren’t able to admit even to ourselves,” Ms Higgins says. “These vital writers take bold risks in sharing their thoughts and ideas on what they see and experience in themselves and the world and in doing so help us to make better sense of our own experience.”
The 2019 program features respected journalists, including multi award-winning investigative journalist and author Jess Hill participating in a panel titled ‘Gendered Violence, Media and the Law’, to discuss how we can turn social progress into legal change, while journalist and author Ruby Hamad will explore the intersectional discrimination that Indigenous, refugee, Muslim and women of colour experience, as part of a panel titled ‘Backlash: When Women Speak Their Truth’, and journalist and author Stephanie Wood will be joined by author Lee Kofman on a panel about shame.
In a new direction for the festival, the program features a selection of sit-down meals at local restaurants, including an enlightening dinner with Benjamin Law and his mother Jenny Phang as they field audience questions about love, sex and dating in the modern world. There will be an inspiring lunch with Melanie Knight of the Dead Letters Club, the original Creative Letter Writing Movement, and a topical lunch with four writers from Parramatta’s Finishing School Collective discussing politics and writing.
Ms Higgins said: “You do not have to be a writer to get something out of this year’s festival. I encourage anyone who appreciates lively and engaging conversations that resist stereotype to join us at Wollongong Art Gallery in November, where no topic or idea will be too taboo.”
The festival’s popular writing workshops are moving to the Friday of the festival weekend and will feature author and University of Sydney Senior Lecturer Laura Ginters in a three-hour session on writing cultural history, while Lee Kofman will guide participants in a separate three-hour session on writing shame.
There will also be a dedicated Kids Program included in the main festival weekend, featuring children’s author Kirli Saunders , award-winning author and cartoonist Tohby Riddle , local illustrator Dale Newman and drag performer Miss Roxee . Children of ticket-holding guardians are welcome to attend Kids Program sessions for free.
The full program and tickets are available at www.wollongongwritersfestival.com .