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Brisbane Writers Festival 2019 program

Getting into the spirit of things at the festival launch.

Brisbane Writers Festival has announced a line-up of more than 160 international writers, thinkers and opinion makers to appear at State Library of Queensland, the home of Brisbane Writers Festival, from 5 – 8 September.

In recognition of the UN Year of Indigenous Languages, this year the Festival will explore the powerful ways in which Australia’s traditional custodians convey story, both now and in the past.

“The written word hasn’t always been the primary way to tell a story,” said Festival CEO and Artistic Director Zoe Pollock, “Indigenous Australians have been yarning, weaving, painting, singing and dancing the stories of this land for thousands of years and right up into our present day. At Brisbane Writers Festival this year we are privileged to present some of our most compelling and evocative writers and storytellers from our First Nations including Tony Birch, Melissa Lucashenko and Claire G. Coleman. Acknowledging difference and understanding how we can use stories to connect to one another is at the heart of this year’s program.”

“Our local reading and writing communities are engaged with what’s happening in the world. We live in challenging times and are facing big issues in both our inner and outer worlds. There are so many movements and forces that are reshaping the world at a rapid pace. We’re bringing these conversations to the Festival and inviting open dialogues around how to connect when the conversation is constantly changing.”

The 2019 Brisbane Writers Festival kicks off with a celebration at State Library of Queensland headed by Danzal Baker aka Baker Boy. The Indigenous Australian rapper, dancer, actor and visual was named the 2019 Young Australian of the Year and is an advocate for Indigenous Australian communities. Joining Baker Boy is writer, actor and comedian Steven Oliver (A Chance Affair), Omar Sakr (The Lost Arabs), Australian slam poetry championships winner Solli Raphael and Indigenous slam queen Melanie Mununggurr-Williams.

International guests include Jasper Fforde famed for the hugely popular Thursday Next series, best-selling historical fiction author Ann Weisgarber (The Glovemaker), Joanne Ramos, whose dystopian debut novel The Farm has drawn comparisons with The Handmaid’s Tale, New York Times bestselling author Karen Thompson Walker, Gemma Hartley (Fed Up), and poet, sociologist and author, Eve L. Ewing. Ewing’s work has been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post and The New Republic.

The Festival will also showcase the work of local and Australian authors, including Benjamin Law (The Family Law), Clementine Ford (Boys Will be Boys), Melissa Lucashenko (Too Much Lip), Ashley Hay (One Hundred Small Lessons), John Marsden (So Much to Tell You and Tomorrow, When The War Began), Jane Caro (Accidental Feminists), Richard Glover (The Land Before Avocado) and Rosalie Ham (The Dressmaker).

In 2019, Brisbane Writers Festival will bring new ways to experience literature to State Library of Queensland. Angel’s Palace, an immersive literary experience inspired by Alexis Wright’s work Carpentaria, will return to Maiwar Green featuring performances created by Indigenous playwright and theatre maker Alethea Beetson, for all ages, as well as panel discussions and author talks. First featured at Brisbane Writers Festival in 2017, Angel’s Palace is a 7.5 metre dome decorated with original artwork by acclaimed Brisbane artist Gordon Hookey. “I’m also very excited to announce a collaboration with Anna Spiro, inspired by Jessica Anderson’s Miles Franklin award-winning novel Tirra Lirra by the River. We’re inviting Festival goers to experience Anderson’s work through the lens of Brisbane’s most iconic designer. Spiro is known for her residential and commercial work – including interior of Mr Percival’s as part of the Howard Smith Wharves development. Tirra Lira by the River will be a special space to catch up with friends, read and soak up the Festival’s atmosphere. We have also planned free events in the installation, including workshops open mic sessions.”

For those aspiring and established writers there is also plenty on offer. Learn the art of historical fiction and archival research with Ann Weisgarber, craft a daring and genre breaking novel with Jasper Fforde, create compelling YA characters with Lili Wilkinson and much more.

Love YA is also back in 2019, bringing a full day of free YA programming to Brisbane Square Library on Saturday 7 September.

“Love YA is a day to celebrate everything that makes Young Adult fiction so compelling. This year we’re shifting focus to look at community and responsibility & the universality of love with some of Australia’s best LGBTQ+ writers including Claire G. Coleman, Alison Evans, Benjamin Law, Jax Jacki Brown and Michael Earp.”

Other Festival highlights include:

  • A special event with Ann Weisgarber examining how we can find our compassion through books and writing.

  • A session with Walkley Award winning journalist Hedley Thomas of Teacher’s Pet fame.

  • Asking for a Friend, a public forum event where attendees can put a problem to a panel of Agony Aunts including Clementine Ford, Benjamin Law, Cal Wilson and Bec Mac.

  • Closing night address with Jasper Fforde exploring the what could happen when we dare to imagine.

  • Meet the Author book club style events with international and Australian authors.

  • A conversation with former Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.

  • Big conversations with leading Australian commentators and contributors to public life including Tim Costello, Bob Brown, Gillian Triggs, Kerry O’Brien, Chloe Hooper, Matt Condon, Richard Cooke and Richard Denniss.

  • Forward thinking feminist conversations with Clare Press, Jane Caro, Gemma Hartley and Jess Hill.

  • The very best in Australian fiction including A.S. Patrić, Steven Carroll, Lucy Treloar, Rosalie Ham, Melina Marchetta and Kristina Olsson.

  • Crime fiction and the #metoo movement with Meera Atkinson, Caroline de Costa and M. J. Tija.

  • Indigenous Language Revival with Des Crump, Sandra Delaney and Rory O’Connor.

  • Free family programming including sessions with international best seller Jessica Townsend, John Marsden and many more.

  • A spoken word showcase including Zenobia Frost, Pascalle Burton and Maxine Beneba Clarke

The 2019 Brisbane Writers Festival goes on sale from 21 June. Visit for tickets and more information.

Date: 5 – 8 September. State Library of Queensland and QAGOMA. Bookings and more info: 07 3216 0694 or

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