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Byron Writers Fest releases digital program, Langton delivers 2020 Thea Astley Address

The annual Byron Writers Festival (BWF) Thea Astley Address, presented by Marcia Langton this year, will be available as a podcast, and the festival is offering free digital sessions in place of the cancelled 2020 event.

‘Ordinarily at this time, we would all be gathering on Bundjalung Country in beautiful Byron Bay for three days of storytelling, conversation and ideas,’ said BWF director Edwina Johnson of the festival that was due to run from 7–9 August. ‘But of course these are not ordinary times.’

During what would have been the 24th annual festival, BWF will release a series of free newly curated digital offerings, including new Conversations from Byron podcasts featuring interviews with writers who would have attended the 2020 festival, as well as video presentations and schools program sessions.

Marcia Langton’s keynote address will also be released as a podcast this week, with the transcript to be published on the Conversation.

In her address, Langton points out that novelist Astley, for whom the annual address is named, ‘passed on in 2004, the same year as Mulrunji (or Cameron) Doomadgee who died in a police cell on Friday, 19 November in an encounter with Sergeant Chris Hurley. Chloe Hooper’s The Tall Man, published in 2009, is an account of the events that followed. It seems that every generation needs to be told why Black Lives Matter. Here we are again.’

Digital 2020 program

Included in the BWF digital offering is a special compilation of LGBTQI+ stories, curated by Maeve Marsden and featuring local writer Hayley Katzen, executive director of Sally Rugg, Junkee cultural editor Michael Sun and poet Ellen van Neerven. Other writers featured in the festival’s digital program are playwright S Shakthidharan, political correspondent Annika Smethurst, and comedians and writers Jean Kittson and Mandy Nolan.

The festival will also make the content of its schools program available online, for Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 August only. Sessions with Clare Bowditch, Craig Foster, Matt Okine, Vivian Pham, Sally Rugg, Christos Tsiolkas and Ellen van Neerven, facilitated by Sunil Badami, Zacharey Jane, Benjamin Law, Maeve Marsden and Cath Keenan, will be publicly available, as will presentations for younger children from Deborah Abela, Tristan Bancks, Dub Leffler and Kirli Saunders.

The festival has previously released Conversations from Byron podcasts featuring Evie Wyld, Chris Flynn, Yumna Kassab and Christos Tsiolkas, among others.

Visit the BWF website to access the full program.



Category: Local news