Writing On Our Calendar / October 2023

Check out some of the wonderful literary events happening in Sydney and around NSW (and online) this October!

For our monthly Writing On Our Calendar feature, we bring you a round-up of literary events happening in Sydney and around NSW. Check out some of the wonderful writing events taking place this October! 

Final Events in September:

26 September: Bankstown Poetry Slam ft. Melanie Mununggurr (Western Sydney Uni)

This month, Bankstown Poetry Slam is free and will be held at WSU’s new Bankstown campus, in partnership with the Writing and Society Research Centre (as part of their Writers in Parramatta series), supported by Western Sydney Creative. Their feature artist this month is the 2018 Australian Poetry Slam champion, Melanie Mununggurr.

27 September: A Home of One’s Own: Writers on the Housing Crisis (Penrith)

When housing is unaffordable, insecure, overcrowded, or even dangerous, it can have dire consequences for our physical and mental health. Join author and city-maker Jess Scully, writer and poet Mohammad Awad, Shelter NSW Planning Officer Stacey Miers and moderator Dominic Santangelo for a panel discussion on the housing crisis, and the power of words and lived experience to affect change.

28 September: Enough Said Poetry Slam ft. Mohammad Awad (Wollongong)

Enough Said Poetry Slam is a slamily where you can share your poems/words/stories/etc, listen to other people share theirs, click for your faves and maybe even win a prize. Their September slam features Mohammad Awad, Queer/Arab/Muslim and Writer/Director/Poet/Playwright and Musician, and co-editor of the Admissions anthology.

28 September – 1 October: National Young Writers’ Festival (Newcastle)

The National Young Writers’ Festival is an annual gathering of young writers. A place to show work, share ideas, and learn. Their programs are free, and made by and for young writers who create across stage, page, web and beyond.

29 September: A Western Sydney Book Club – Big Beautiful Female Theory (Western Sydney)

A Western Sydney Book Club hosts monthly conversations about books led by guest authors, for readers in and connected to Western Sydney. Freelance writer, health researcher and filmmaker Liz Duck-Chong will facilitate a conversation around big beautiful female theory by Eloise Grills.

29 September – 2 October: Conflux Speculative Fiction Conference (Canberra)

Conflux is Canberra’s longest-running spec fiction (sci fi, fantasy, alternative history and horror) convention. An annual convention for both new and established writers and artists, Conflux has a strong program of panels, discussions, workshops, competitions and social events.

1 – 8 October: Story Week (Sydney)

Story Week is an annual celebration of poetry slams, workshops and spoken-word storytelling events, presented by Word Travels. SW23 presents twenty events across seven days – showcasing close to 100 writers, and bringing together a vibrant mix of poets, storytellers, comedians, lyricists and idea-spreaders. The program includes the finals of the Australian Poetry Slam, ending the week with the national final at Sydney Opera House.

3 – 31 October: National MAD Poetry Workshop (online)

Red Room Poetry’s five-part online workshop series returns every Tuesday across October presented in partnership with Wellways, led by five facilitators – Mohammad Awad, Ruby Hillsmith, Anna Jacobson, Brooke Scobie and David Stavanger – who are all practising poets with their own lived mental ill-health experience.

6 October: First Friday with John Morrissey (online)

See John Morrissey, judge for the 2024 Boundless Mentorship for Indigenous Writers, as he speaks to Writing NSW CEO Sophie Groom about judging the upcoming 2024 Boundless Mentorship for Indigenous Writers, as well as his writing career since winning the 2020 Boundless Mentorship, including his new collection of stories, Firelight.

6 October: Bread & Butter Poetry Slam ft. Rachael Williams (Erskineville)

Bread & Butter Poetry Slam is the Inner West’s newest, most oven-fresh poetry night. Join them for poems, feelings and laughs in a safe and inclusive space. Their first slam of October is a Special Edition, one-night-only event!

6 October: Beatriz Copello – No Salami Fairy Bread (Glebe)

No Salami Fairy Bread is a funny and poignant story written in poetry form which follows the poet’s migration journey and experience as she settles into Sydney life in the 70s, challenging fidelity while searching for independence. Author Beatriz Copello is an award-winning writer and a former member of the Writing NSW Management Committee.

7 October: Spoken Word Poetry Workshop (Sydney)

Discover the power of words and unleash your inner creative writing voice, in an empowering and inclusive creative writing and presentation workshop presented by Bankstown Poetry Slam at Sydney Opera House. Learn to share your stories and perspectives in a welcoming environment, leaning on experienced artists who will guide you to find your authentic voice through the power of slam poetry.

7 October: The True Story of A.I. with Tracey Spicer (Wollongong)

In this curtain raiser for the True Story Festival of non-fiction writing in November, award-winning journalist Tracey Spicer, author of Man-Made: How the Bias of the Past is Being Built into the Future, talks to Caroline Baum about the scary and unexpected ethical and everyday implications of AI in our lives. How have age-old prejudices around gender and race been built into robots? What can we do to make algorithms more representative of who we are? An unmissable conversation for anyone who cares about the human race.

10 October: Poetry Open Mic ft. Adara Enthaler (Shellharbour)

The Shellharbour City Libraries Poetry Open Mic is an ongoing event where beginners and seasoned performers can come together and share their poetry in a warm and welcoming environment. Performers will have 3-minutes each to read an original poem. Pick up the mic and share your words or just sit back and listen as performers tell their stories, then prepare to be blown away by feature poet Adara Enthaler.

Begins 12 October: Ghost Story Writing Workshop for Kids (Wentworth Falls)

A creative writing course with a spooky twist, just in time for Halloween. Over five weeks on Thursdays after school, students will work on creating creepy characters, writing suspense and dread, and crafting scary stories fit for a late night campfire. The course is led by Sharon Baldwin, children’s author and publisher of Loose Parts Press.

12 – 14 October: Mighty Playwrights (Goulburn)

Six young writers, aged 9-12 years, nominated by their schools, have developed and written six hilariously unique and genuine stage plays. Through mentor relationships with professional writers, illustrators, actors, and musicians, the Mighty Playwrights have created some amazing stories, skilfully staged by Goulburn’s own Lieder Theatre Company. Mighty Playwrights 2023 promises a riotous evening of entertainment, full off laughter and joy.

13 October: A Voice Appears in the Dark (Bankstown)

Come along to experience sounds, images, and words at this multi-disciplinary performance event with poetry and music, featuring Tina Huang, Bella Li, Coco Huang and Lou Garcia-Dolnik.

13 October: Rosemary Kariuki Author Talk (Wollongong)

Join Wollongong Library to hear from one of Australia’s most beloved local heroes and multicultural women’s rights advocates, Rosemary Kariuki, as she discusses her recently published memoir A Joyful Life: One Woman’s Story of Triumph Over Trauma to Build a Life of Hope and Gratitude.

14 – 15 October: Book Fair Australia (Sydney Olympic Park)

Book Fair Australia presents a literary festival that celebrates stories of all genres. The weekend will be jam packed with activities, including the chance to meet your favourite Australian authors, a children’s corner and activities, Dungeons & Dragons one shot campaigns, workshops and panels, as well as stalls from local businesses and prizes.

Begins 17 October: SCWC Young Writers Program (Wollongong)

The Young Writers Program at the South Coast Writers Centre is a thriving program that has been running since 2014, offering creative writing workshops for young people aged 10-18. There are three groups for different age groups between 10 and 18, that meet between Wollongong and Coledale, and run for nine weeks during the school term.

18 October: Talking Writing: Debut Authors (Lilyfield)

See Hayley Scrivenor (Dirt Town), Zaheda Ghani (Pomegranate & Fig) and Nick Bhasin (I Look Forward to Hearing from You) speak to Writing NSW Program Manager and emerging writer Rowena Tuziak about the expectations and realities of first-time publication, and how their lives and careers have changed. Join for drinks, nibbles, and a chance to meet other writers before and after the panel.

18 October: Chris Hammer Author Talk (Wollongong)

Award-winning Australian rural noir author Chris Hammer will appear at Wollongong Library to talk about his new book, The Seven. Chris will also be appearing in Kiama the following day on 19 October, and in Goulburn on 16 October.

21 – 22 October: 2023 HNSA Conference (Hurstville)

The Historical Novel Society Australasia Conference is two-stream weekend program celebrating one of the world’s most popular genres. The conference features over 60 speakers across 20 sessions discussing the genre, inspiration, publishing journeys, historical eras, and insights into writing and researching historical fiction. Their guests of honour are Miles Franklin Literary Prize winners Melissa Lucashenko, Anna Funder and Tom Keneally together with international bestselling author, Judy Nunn.

20 – 22 October: Blue Mountains Writers’ Festival (Katoomba)

Presented by Varuna the National Writers’ House, the Festival will take place in Katoomba amid the spectacular surrounds of the world-heritage listed Blue Mountains. With 47 sessions, the program offers something for everyone, with author talks, panel conversations, children’s events, performance, writing workshops and more.

20 – 29 October: IF Maitland 2023 Indie Writers Festival & Artfest (Maitland)

In this festival they have maintained the traditional format of engaging speakers who have achieved great success: poets, fiction writers, memoir writers, and short story writers. But there will also be song writers and bloggers, because today, writing isn’t just about books. The program is yet to be launched, but you can view the draft program on their website.

22 October: Heart to Paper Meditation and Writing Workshop (Brunswick Heads)

Heart to Paper is a guided meditation to learn to use your emotions as a driving force for your creative writing, followed by a writing workshop with prompts to generate new work.

25 October: Matthew Reilly in Conversation (Newcastle)

Matthew Reilly will visit Newcastle on 25th October for a special Newcastle Writers Festival event to speak about his new novel, the epic historical thriller Mr Einstein’s Secretary. The event starts at 7pm and will be held in the Shortland Building at the University of Newcastle’s Callaghan campus.

25 October: Centennial Supper Club with Charlotte Wood (Bowral)

Meet acclaimed Australian author Charlotte Wood, whose new novel Stoneyard Devotional is published on 3 October. Set in a small religious community hidden away on the stark plains of the Monaro, it is a deeply moving novel about forgiveness, grief and what it means to be ‘good’. Charlotte will be in conversation with Ailsa Piper, writer, director, actor and broadcaster. Charlotte will also be appearing at Gleebooks in Glebe on 5 October in conversation with Emily Maguire, and in Mosman on 23 October.

26 October: Bread & Butter Poetry Slam ft. Gabi Cadenhead (Newtown)

A poetry slam is an open mic for poetry where the points matter. Judges are randomly selected from the audience to determine our slam champion for each month. Secret prize for 1st place! Sign up to perform an original poem on the night, or just come be part of our audience.

27 – 29 October: Headland Writers Festival (Tathra)

Headland Writers Festival is a celebration of reading, writing, sharing stories and indulging the mind. Across three days in October, the spectacular Tathra Headland will serve as a backdrop to an abundance of author in-conversations, panels, workshops, poetry breakfasts, theatre and music performances.

As part of the festival on 28 October, our CEO Sophie Groom will be in conversation with Anna McFarlane, Robert Skinner and Jane Palfreyman for Inside Publishing, a panel discussion that explores the inner workings of the publishing world. This event provides networking opportunities and information about the industry to writers in regional NSW.

31 October: Trent Dalton in conversation with Malcolm Knox (Avalon Beach)

Trent Dalton, author of the international best-selling Boy Swallows Universe, will be in conversation with Malcolm Knox, author of Bluebird and The Wonder Lover, about his new book Lola in the Mirror.

31 October – 1 November: Girls in Boys’ Cars Writing Workshops (Parramatta)

Join Girls in Boys’ Cars author Felicity Castagna as she teams up with local writers George Haddad, Will Kostakis and Donna Abela for workshops in storytelling and scriptwriting, in tandem with Riverside Theatre’s stage adaptation of the book. 

1 – 5 November: BAD Sydney Crime Writers Festival (Sydney)

The BAD Sydney Crime Writers Festival is the place for every crime story, with fiction, true crime and social justice events to entertain, inform and provoke. The festival includes true crime walks, author panels, a Whodunnit, and more.

On the second day of the festival, watch the Inside Publishing panel with our CEO Sophie Groom for a panel discussion that explores the inner workings of the publishing world, and provides insights into the process of getting published from leading industry professionals.

2 November: Failed Writers’ Festival (Petersham)

Failed writers aren’t failures: they are the artists for whom the market has failed. The voices that are just as valid, just as intense, and have just as much to say – but are not so neatly packaged and edited. Experience unique, diverse and important takes from a selection of writers and poets from a range of diverse backgrounds and communities around Sydney.

3 – 4 November: The Waltz Play (Bondi)

Writing NSW member and regional playwright David Cole has a play called The Waltz at the Bondi Pavillion Theatre: Two former 1960’s radicals meet on a park bench overlooking Bondi. One has given up on life. The other has found a new reason for living. Together they resolve to squeeze every moment out of what time they have left. Full of humour and great 60’s music.

More from Writing NSW

Check out our full range of writing courses in Sydney, our online writing courses and our feedback programs to see how we can help you on your creative writing journey. Find out about our grants and prizes, as well as writing groups across NSW, and sign up to our weekly newsletter for writing events, opportunities and giveaways.

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