When the weather gets colder and a bunch of black-clad, earnest-looking types start congregating in and around Federation Square, it’s time for the Melbourne Writers Festival. Established in 1986, the festival has been bringing top-notch local and international writing talent to the city for almost 30 years, and 2013 is no exception. In her first year as the festival director, Lisa Dempster has overseen a programme that includes topics such as the future of Australia, how we live our creative lives in a digital age, and the writer as traveller. Here are just a few highlights from the programme.
(Also... we asked 10 writers to give us a haiku about Melbourne.)
Author and poet George Dawes Green started the Moth, a non-profit organisation dedicated to storytelling, when he decided he wanted to re-create in New York the summer evening he’d spent in Georgia, sitting on a porch, sharing stories with friends. Today the Moth holds a bunch of different events across the US, including Moth Mainstage, which brings together a group of master storytellers to tell personal tales on a particular topic. The Melbourne event, which is exclusive to the MWF, includes our very own Magda Szubanski and Moth host Ophira Eisenberg, and it’s all about ‘courage’.
Go if… you’d like to hear a story
That’s right, the BFF of cool, articulate young women everywhere is coming to Melbourne to deliver the keynote address of MWF’s Creative Lives strand. If it wasn’t galling enough that the Illinois-based 17-year-old became an international fashion icon at the age of 11 with her The Style Rookie blog, she’s also the founder of rookiemag.com, an indispensible website for teenage girls (and anyone who appreciates thoughtful and fun writing on growing up, popular culture and make-up application). We can’t be jealous, because we love her so much.
Go if… you find overachieving young folk inspiring rather than irritating
Keynote: Tavi's World
Rookie Day (under 20s only).
In addition to being the Mayor of London, a former journo and MP, and that guy who managed to get himself stuck dangling from a zip wire during last year’s Olympic Games, Boris Johnson just happens to be an author of both fiction and non-fiction tomes, as well as the former editor of The Spectator. His most recent, 2012’s Johnson’s Life of London, tells the story of the city through a series of historical folk dating back to Roman times. Renowned for his ability to both offend and entertain, Johnson will open the 2013 MWF with his keynote speech.
Go if… you’re into Conservatives, controversy and funny hairdos
An Audience with Boris Johnson
Future Australia: Feminism
As we farewell Australia’s first female prime minister after a particularly grubby few years in our national discourse, it seems like a good time to reflect on the status of women and just how far we have or haven’t come. Three sessions in MWF’s Future Australia: Identity and Politics strand get right into it: Anne Summers will present a keynote speech on ‘The Misogyny Factor’; Anna Krien, Shereen El Feki and Sophie Cunningham will explore how “the politics of sex provides a literary lens from which to view society”; and Anna Goldsworthy, Monica Dux, Samah Hadid and Lynne Haultain will discuss the trajectory of feminism and what it looks like today.
Go if… you’re a woman or you know someone who’s a woman
The Deakin Edge, Fed Square, Melbourne. 1pm. $19.50-$21.50. at Aug 31.
Fans of the Marvel Comics universe will be a bit excited to discover that Marjorie M Liu, author of comics such as NYX: No Way Home, Dark Wolverine and Astonishing X-Men, will be in conversation with Joey Morris from NonCanonical Comic Podcast about her work with Marvel Comics, particularly X-Men. Marjorie’s Astonishing X-Men made headlines last year when the character Northstar married his same-sex partner.
Go if… you known who Northstar is
NGV Theatrette at Ian Potter Centre, Flinders St, Melbourne. 11.30am. $19.50-$21.50. Sat Aug 24.
More Melbourne Writers Festival events