What’s On: Brisbane Writers Festival

Rapper, dancer, actor and visual artist Baker Boy, 2019 Young Australian of the Year, will be kicking off the celebrations at BWF 2019

Brisbane Writers Festival

5 – 8 September 2019

State Library of Queensland, South Brisbane

The 2019 Brisbane Writers Festival will see over 160 internationally renowned writers, thinkers and opinion makers appearing at State Library of Queensland. Now in its 57th year, Brisbane Writers Festival celebrates and champions the work of writers who contemplate the big issues facing the world; climate, race, gender, and digital. In recognition of the UN Year of Indigenous Languages, the 2019 Festival will explore the powerful ways in which Australia’s traditional custodians convey story, both now and in the past.

“The written word hasn’t always been the primary way to tell a story,” said Festival CEO and Artistic Director Zoe Pollock, “Indigenous Australians have been yarning, weaving, painting, singing and dancing the stories of this land for thousands of years and right up into our present day. At Brisbane Writers Festival this year we are privileged to present some of our most compelling and evocative writers and storytellers from our First Nations including Tony Birch, Melissa Lucashenko and Claire G. Coleman. Acknowledging difference and understanding how we can use stories to connect to one another is at the heart of this year’s program.”

“Our local reading and writing communities are engaged with what’s happening in the world. We live in challenging times and are facing big issues in both our inner and outer worlds. There are so many movements and forces that are reshaping the world at a rapid pace. We’re bringing these conversations to the Festival and inviting open dialogues around how to connect when the conversation is constantly changing.”

Festival Highlights

“It’s an enormous privilege to bring such a diverse program of thinkers and writers to Brisbane each year,” Pollock said. “This is an incredible opportunity to hear from the people with nuanced insight into the fast-changing world that we all share. I invite you to join us and have your say.”

Just a few of the highlights that will feature at BWF 2019:

  • A huge celebration at State Library of Queensland headed by Danzal Baker aka Baker Boy. The Indigenous Australian rapper, dancer, actor and visual artist was named 2019 Young Australian of the Year and is an advocate for Indigenous Australian communities. Baker Boy will be joined by writer, actor and comedian Steven Oliver (A Chance Affair), Omar Sakr (The Lost Arabs), Australian slam poetry championships winner Solli Raphael, and Indigenous slam queen Melanie Mununggurr-Williams.
  • International guests including Jasper Fforde (Thursday Next), Ann Weisgarber (The Glovemaker), Joanne Ramos (The Farm), New York Times bestselling author Karen Thompson Walker, Gemma Hartley (Fed Up), and poet, sociologist and author, Eve L. Ewing.
  • Local and Australian authors, including audience favourites Benjamin Law (The Family Law), Clementine Ford (Boys Will be Boys), Melissa Lucashenko (Too Much Lip), Ashley Hay (One Hundred Small Lessons), Tony Birch (The White Girl), John Marsden (So Much to Tell You and Tomorrow, When The War Began), Jane Caro (Accidental Feminists), Richard Glover (The Land Before Avocado) and Rosalie Ham (The Dressmaker).
  • A special event with Ann Weisgarber examining how we can find our compassion through books and writing.
  • A session with Walkley Award-winning journalist Hedley Thomas of Teacher’s Pet.
  • Asking for a Friend, a public forum event where attendees can put a problem to a panel of Agony Aunts including Clementine Ford, Benjamin Law, Cal Wilson and Bec Mac.
  • Closing night address with Jasper Fforde exploring what could happen when we dare to imagine.
  • Meet the Author book club style events with international and Australian authors.
  • A conversation with former Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.
  • Big conversations with leading Australian commentators and contributors to public life including Tim Costello, Bob Brown, Gillian Triggs, Kerry O’Brien, Chloe Hooper, Matt Condon, Richard Cooke and Richard Denniss.
  • Forward thinking feminist conversations with Clare Press, Jane Caro, Gemma Hartley and Jess Hill.
  • The very best in Australian fiction including S. Patrić, Steven Carroll, Lucy Treloar, Rosalie Ham, Melina Marchetta and Kristina Olsson.
  • Crime fiction and the #metoo movement with Meera Atkinson, Caroline de Costa and J. Tija.
  • Indigenous Language Revival with Des Crump, Sandra Delaney and Rory O’Connor.
  • Free family programming including sessions with international best seller Jessica Townsend, John Marsden and many more.
  • A spoken word showcase including Zenobia Frost, Pascalle Burton and Maxine Beneba Clarke.

View the full BWF 2019 program here.

Immersive Spaces

Angel’s Palace, an immersive literary experience inspired by Alexis Wright’s monumental work Carpentaria, will return to Maiwar Green featuring performances created by Indigenous playwright and theatre maker Alethea Beetson, for all ages, as well as panel discussions and author talks. First featured at Brisbane Writers Festival in 2017, Angel’s Palace is a 7.5 metre dome decorated with original artwork by acclaimed Brisbane artist Gordon Hookey.

BWF has also announced a 2019 collaboration with Anna Spiro inspired by Jessica Anderson’s Miles Franklin award-winning novel Tirra Lirra by the River, inviting Festival goers to experience Anderson’s work through the lens of Brisbane’s most iconic designer. Spiro is known for her residential and commercial work, including the interior of Mr Percival’s as part of the Howard Smith Wharves development. Tirra Lira by the River will be a special space to catch up with friends, read, and soak up the Festival’s atmosphere, with free events including workshops and open mic sessions also planned for the installation.

For writers

Learn the art of historical fiction and archival research with Ann Weisgarber, craft a daring and genre breaking novel with Jasper Fforde, create compelling YA characters with Lili Wilkinson and much more. View the full list of workshops here.

Love YA

Brisbane Writers Festival’s Young Adult fiction program returns to Brisbane Square Library on September 7, and will focus on community, responsibility, and the universality of love with some of Australia’s best LGBTQ+ writers including Claire G. Coleman, Alison Evans, Benjamin Law, Jax Jacki Brown and Michael Earp. View the full list of Love YA events here.

For event ticketing and program details, visit the BWF website.

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