A Guide To: Brisbane Writers Festival

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Brisbane Writers Festival is Queensland’s annual hub for all things wordy and delicious, and this September, as always, the festival will showcase a range of local and international story spinners over four days, across the venues of the State Library of Queensland (situated just downriver from GOMA). Tickets are discounted for you lucky folk under 25 years old, and there’s also a range of free events to attend. From poets and novelists, to radio hosts and activists, here are our top picks for the 2019 program.

Opening Night Gala 

Thursday 5 September 7pm, Auditorium 1

Artists: Baker Boy, Solli Raphael, Omar Sakr and Melanie Mununggurr-Williams

The festival kicks off on a Thursday evening with performances from some of Australia’s punchiest spoken word artists, including Darwin-born rapper, Baker Boy, and the Australian Poetry Slam’s youngest ever champion, Solli Raphael (who claimed the title in 2017 at just twelve years old). The performances will be followed by a panel discussion on storytelling, and the shape it takes in our contemporary world.

Perfect for: the poets, the rhythmically inclined, the people who love a launch party

Climate Change: beyond science

Friday 6 September 2.30pm, Queensland Terrace

Artists: Bob Brown, Amanda Little, Amanda Niehaus

Ever felt lost in the face of our rapidly degrading environment? Or wondered how your personal skill set can be of use in creating a more sustainable world? Environmental scientists and multinational corporations aren’t the only ones who can take action: this panel discusses the vital role that people in the humanities play in the fight against climate change. The speakers boast a huge variety of professional experiences, from interviewing Barack Obama, to writing novels, to leading the Australian Greens Party. With this mix of speakers, it’s sure to be an unmissable and insightful discussion on the diverse ways we can all make positive change. 

Perfect for: the hopeful, the hopeless, the humanities babes

Growing Up Queer in Australia

Friday 6 September 2.30pm, Auditorium 1

Artists: Phoebe Hart, Nathan Mills, Samuel Leighton-Dore

This event comes hot off the release of new book, Growing Up Queer in Australia, a compilation of essays from queer Aussie authors, edited by Benjamin Law. Three South-East Queensland locals take the stage to discuss what it means to grow up queer in Australia: Nathan Mills, recent UQ English and Political Science graduate; Phoebe Hart, filmmaker, writer, and activist for intersex rights; and Samuel Leighton-Dore multidisciplinary artist and author of illustrated book, How To Be A Big Strong Man

Perfect for: the queer, the curious, the open hearted

The Limits of Language (FREE EVENT)

Saturday 7 September 2.30pm, Kuril Dhagun

Artists: Tony Birch, Claire G. Coleman, Anita Heiss

For this free event, three Indigenous authors discuss the limits of the English language in contemporary Australian storytelling. The writers will explore how they have harnessed the English language in new and creative ways to tell their stories, in a land where the colonising language is not equipped to describe the abundance of landscapes, cultures, and histories this continent is home to.

Perfect for: the linguistically frustrated, the linguistically curious, the ready-to-be-inspired

Asking for a friend – Put your problem to the panel to solve

Saturday 7 September 7pm, Queensland Terrace

Artists: Clementine Ford, Benjamin Law, Oliver Phommavanh, Cal Wilson

This one will be a HOOT. The speaking artists form an Agony Aunt panel for audience members to address with any and all of their woes. Be it love, sex, money, or relationships, you’ll have a chance to receive some sage words from this motley band of writers and comedians. Or, if you’re not about baring your soul in public, you could just sit in and listen to other people’s problems. Win/win. 

Perfect for: the friend who’s always a mess, the friend who always gives great advice, the friend who likes a chuckle

For more details on these events, and to browse the full 2019 program, visit the Brisbane Writers Festival website.

Ruby Fletcher