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MWF 2021 full program launched

The program for the 2021 Melbourne Writers Festival (MWF), which will run from 3–12 September, has been announced.

In its 35th year, MWF will bring together celebrated figures in fiction, journalism, poetry, politics and law to interrogate the challenges of the pandemic, climate change, inequality, addiction and isolation through the theme ‘Tell Me How It Ends’. Over 250 Australian guests will appear live at the festival across various locations in Melbourne.

A mix of in-person and digital events, the festival will open on Friday, 3 September with 2021 Australian of the Year Grace Tame delivering the keynote address at the Athenaeum Theatre. The revived Age Book of the Year award will also be presented on opening night.

International guests appearing via live cross at the Capitol Theatre include US writer Maggie Nelson, 2020 Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart and Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner Marilynne Robinson. Fellow Pulitzer Prize winners Viet Thanh Nguyen and Jhumpa Lahiri, as well as international writers including Rachel Cusk, Rumaan Alam and Sigrid Nunez will appear as part of MWF Digital, which will stream conversations into homes through the festival’s ‘Pay What You Can’ ticketing model, introduced during Melbourne’s 2020 Covid-19 lockdown.

Live highlights include Bruce Pascoe and Tom Griffiths in conversation with Sally Warhaft about First Nations histories; Helen Garner reflecting on the role of doubt in her life and work; celebrity chef Jock Zonfrillo talking about his forthcoming memoir Last Shot (S&S); and Coronacast host Norman Swan on his latest book So You Think You Know What’s Good for You? (Hachette). A quarter of live events are free.

First Nations curators Marcia Langton and Bridget Caldwell-Bright will curate and host conversations with an array of writers, poets and thinkers, while MWF will bring the festival to Bunjil Place in Narre Warren with a new series of events featuring investigative reporter Louise Milligan, writer and former Manus detainee Behrouz Boochani and children’s author Morris Gleitzman.

Additionally, a short documentary by artist Will Huxley called Writers on Film will map the creative lives of local authors Jennifer Down, Sophie Cunningham and Tony Birch, featuring self-narrated tours of the neighbourhoods that informed their award-winning works. 

The MWF Families program will include events featuring Maxine Beneba Clarke and Sally Rippin, while MWF Teens will have Leanne Hall, Amie Kaufman, Sophie Gonzales and Gabriel Bergmoser exploring the YA genre. Victorian writers Evelyn Araluen, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Patricia Cornelius, Nayuka Gorrie, Chloe Hooper, Shaun Tan and Maria Turmarkin will gather at the Capitol Theatre to celebrate the closing night.

The festival’s new artistic director Michaela McGuire says, ‘In periods of uncertainty, when we feel powerless and buffeted by forces outside of our control, we turn to storytellers to help make sense of the world.

‘To open a book is, in this world, a radical act: of learning, of privacy, of self-care, of rebellion, of hope. As readers and writers, the written word is our chosen art form because of its unparalleled power to provide comfort, answers to impossible questions, connection with other minds and viewpoints. To change who we are, and in doing so, change the world.’

Tickets for MWF 2021 are on sale now. To buy tickets and view the full festival program, see the MWF website.


Category: Local news