What We're Reading / Sydney Writers’ Festival 2022

With the Sydney Writers’ Festival a couple weeks away, the Writing NSW staff share the events they are most looking forward to. Have a read to discover what to keep an eye out for!

Jane McCredie, CEO

It’s great to see the diverse array of Australian writers appearing at this year’s festival, particularly all the new voices. I’m looking forward to seeing people like Amani Haydar, Evelyn Araluen and Jazz Money talk about their work. I’m also going to some of the sessions focused on journalism, including this one on the state of international media. In the era of fake news and alternative facts, quality investigative journalism has never been more important, but the business models that used to support it have largely failed. Whether we’re dealing with climate change, a global pandemic, or corruption in government, we need independent journalism to provide evidence-based information and ask the hard questions.

Rowena Tuziak, Membership and Operations Manager

This festival, I’m keen to hear from emerging writers. I’ll be seeing newly awarded Stella Prize winner, Evelyn Araluen as she takes the stage with Melissa Lucashenko to discuss her debut collection of poetry and prose, Dropbear. I’ll follow this up with Breaking and Entering: The Next Chapter Writers’ Scheme panel discussion. Participants, past and present, including Jumaana Abdu, Luke Patterson, Josie/Jocelyn Deane and Ennis Cehic, will be joined by host Fiona Wright to discuss the ways they are breaking down barriers in traditional Australian publishing. These will be the writers to watch out for, so I’m eager to get in early!

Julia Tsalis, Program Manager 

I am really looking forward to the Opening Night Address with three extraordinary writers: Award-winning Yankunytjatjara poet, author and memoirist Ali Cobby Eckermann (Inside My Mother), Bidjara and Birri Gubba Juru and author, academic and advocate Jackie Huggins (Sister Girl and Jack of Hearts: QX11594), and Yuwaalaraay musician and author Nardi Simpson (Song of the Crocodile). What better way to open the festival than with the voices of these powerful women reflecting on their lives and careers.

The fabulous Sisonke Msimang will lead a discussion about the responsibilities of writers and whether the imagination should have limits with Booker Prize–winner Damon Galgut (The Promise), Larissa Behrendt (After Story) and Paige Clark (She Is Haunted).

On the Saturday night I’m taking my niece to the YA Gala: Mock Trial where Australian YA authors will put their favourite (or not so favourite) characters on trial. This will be her first writers’ festival and I can’t wait to share the experience with her.

Amy Lovat, Professional Development Officer

Ah, Sydney Writers Festival, the time of year when I most wish I could clone myself, to save the tough decisions of which session to attend when you want to be at everything. The gala event each year is one of my favourite events, and this year with the theme ‘Change My Mind’, it features twelve storytellers from different backgrounds, disciplines, life experiences, to share a story about the changing of a mind — we’ll get to hear from one of my favourite children’s book authors Morris Gleitzman, talented young Indigenous poet Jazz Money and literary powerhouse Hanya Yanagihara, to name a few. I’m also looking forward to ‘Your Favourites’ Favourites’ with Hannah Kent & SJ Norman, whose debut collection of stories Permafrost I loved last year, and the conversation between Amani Haydar and Michael Mohammed Ahmad. Then on Saturday night, you’ll find me in the crowd at Queerstories, as per usual.

Martyn Reyes, Project and Communications Officer 

I’m halfway through reading Torrey Peters’ debut novel, Detransition, Baby after having it recommended to me by multiple friends. The book is about a three women, transgender and cis, who decide to raise a baby together as one big queer, unconventional, albeit dysfunctional, family unit. It’s hilarious and sharp, and I’ve never read anything like it. Instead of spiralling into my usual deep dive of reviews and interviews after finishing a book, this time i’ll get the pleasure of hearing the author discussing and dissecting it live, in a room full of other fans at a huge literary festival. Other than that, I’m really keen to hear lawyer, organiser and writer Derecka Purnell talk to Melissa Lucashenko at length, about police abolition. I also can’t wait to see The Unacknowledged Legislators, a session featuring performances from Eunice Andrada, Tony Birch, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Sarah Holland-Batt, Jazz Money, Omar Musa and Sara M. Saleh. 

Isaac Wilcox, Administration and Digital Services Officer

Words On Show: Writing For Performance

I’m really interested to see the likes of Omar Musa, David Williamson and Maxine Beneba Clarke together in conversation with Maeve Marsden. The blurb tells us they’re discussing how they write for performance and how they adapt between mediums. They all have books they wanna punt as well. Omar Musa’s magic Killernova, Maxine Beneba Clarke’s apocalyptic How Decent Folk Behave and David Williamson’s home truths, Home Truths.

It’s a struggle I have experienced myself. I’m also really interested in how they view voice and the way it’s inscribed on the page, maybe I’ll get to sneak a question. I’m also pretty excited that they’ll be in person, so in a way in their natural environment on a stage with their words.

How To Make. Basket: Weaving Words For Country

I just want to see these great poets speaking and think and learn with them. Tony Birch soeaks to three First Nations poets – Jazz Money, Anne-Marie Te Whiu and Evelyn Araluen. Who wouldn’t?  Well, maybe not you, but I would.

Archive Fever Live: Strong Female Leads

I’ve never been to a live recording of a podcast, they’re usually something I listen to while washing dishes, in fact archived. So I’m curious to see the difference in experience. I’m also a big old archive fan, so this seems like a great chance to let my hair down and moulder in a pile of musty paper for an hour. Hosts Clare Wright and Yves Rees are in conversation with Bernadette Brennan (Leaping Into Waterfalls) and filmmaker Tosca Looby (Strong Female Leads) about their love for archival research.

Check out the events our staff mentioned for yourself!

Tuesday 17 May

Opening Night Address – 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM

Thursday 19 May

Michael Mohammed Ahmad & Amani Haydar – 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Torrey Peters: Detransition, Baby – 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Change My Mind Storytelling Gala – 8:30 PM – 9:30 PM

Friday 20 May

In Conversation: 2022 Stella Prize Winner – 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

Archive Fever Live: Strong Female Leads – 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

Your Favourites’ Favourites: Hannah Kent & SJ Norman – 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

World News: The State of International Media – 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

How to Make a Basket: Weaving Words for Country – 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Words on Show: Writing for Performance – 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM

Queerstories – 8:30 PM – 10:00 PM

Saturday 21 May 

Breaking and Entering: The Next Chapter Writers’ Scheme – 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM 

Derecka Purnell: Becoming Abolitionists – 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

The Limits of Imagination – 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

YA Gala: Mock Trial – 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM

Sunday 22 May 

The Unacknowledged Legislators – 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Please note some of these events are ticketed and could sell out, click the above links to find out more information. To see the full Sydney Writers’ Festival program head here.

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