Emerging Writers’ Festival: Our tips


Jess O’Callaghan gives you the heads up on some potential highlights from the upcoming Emerging Writers’ Festival in Melbourne, which kicks off this week:

Tucked into Melbourne’s lanes, libraries, and town halls, the Emerging Writers’ Festival celebrates its tenth year. The program’s a combination of exciting new writers, events that you always wished were a thing, and pure inspiration to just write and write well, dammit. I want to recommend everything, really, because I could happily spend every day and night between May 22 and June 2 revelling in its awesome program, but for the sake of actually getting some writing done, here are bits I’m the most excited about:

Seven Enviable Lines
Five awesome writers share seven incisive bits of advice they wish they had known when they started out writing. It’s always comforting to have people where you want to be explain that they were you once, highlighting festival programs, scribbling out first drafts, full of confusion and self-doubt. It’s even nicer when they share words of wisdom. The Festival Ambassadors, Khairani ‘Okka’ Barokka, Melinda Harvey, Walter Mason, Jennifer Mills, and John Safran, are just the sort of people you want giving you advice. The event is on at 10am on Saturday May 25 at Melbourne Town Hall, and will hopefully be like coffee in the morning and make you want to go and do all the writing all weekend long. Details here.

Words Travel – Australia and Indonesia
EWF has teamed up with Bali Emerging Writers Festival to present a co-program, and on Sunday May 26 you can hear lovely writers talk about how Indonesia and Australia have inspired their work, and also find out all about the potential the partnership presents to emerging writers in Australia. This is great for lots of reasons, some of them being travel writing, Indonesia, and Laura Jean McKay. I heard Laura read about her trip to Cambodia a few years ago and ever since then have been super excited to read anything that she ever writes, and the EWF writers biographies tell me her short story collection Holiday in Cambodia will be published in July. Yay! This one’s also at Melbourne Town Hall, at 1.45pm. Details here.

Late Night Live with Literary Magazines- Mixed Tape Memoirs with The Lifted Brow
The Lifted Brow’s music edition has consistently made me happy for well over a month now. They had a bunch of amazing writers to make mixtapes, which you can stream online. Then they had four independent record labels create downloadable bundles of music. That’s before we even talk about how great the content of their consistently awesome publication is. Thanks Lifted Brow. I listened to Pip Smith’s “lady focused” mixtape when I spent the day pulling out the weeds from what is now a useable garden bed. I listened to A.H. Cayley’s mixtape for “not giving a single fuck to” while drinking wine before leaving the house last night. I listened to Anna Krien’s mixtape while writing, in the hopes that it would make me write like Anna Krien. It didn’t, but I am grateful anyway, because I have not had to think about which music to listen to in an entire month. The EWF has handed over its late night programming to literary magazines (Kill Your Darlings on Tuesday, Ampersand on Wednesday, and Seizure on Thursday), which means the night of Monday May 27 will be like streaming your favourite writer’s mixtapes online but live, with five writers “sharing the music that has impacted them most, and explain in a storytellery way just why”. This one is free, 9pm, at festival hub 1000 Pound Bend. Details here.

Weekend Writing Space
For the last weekend of the festival, everyone moves to one of the loveliest places in Melbourne, Abbotsford Convent. There are birds there and big nice spaces and good food and it’s all very nice. Explore the proper program for workshops that combine meditation and yoga with writing and other events. The really exciting bit is the writers’ space, which will be a great way to channel all the good things you’ve learned and been inspired by throughout the week into actual words. A space full of writers to write in! The program says the only distractions will be productive ones, but the other draw card of this weekend-long event is poet Emily Stewart giving away all of her books (She’s what!? Wait! Why?) with a personalised letter to go in each. Which sounds distracting, but in the best way. Details here.

Wild, Wild Life – an Evening of Animal Stories
Well, almost all of my favourite writers will be telling animal stories in Abbotsford Convent with a sound artist doing things with sound, so I think it’s safe to say this will be one of the best nights of any festival ever. Oslo Davis, Rebecca Giggs, LK Holt, Laura Jean McKay, Marc Martin, Josephine Row and Khairani ‘Okka’ Barokka with a “wild soundtrack” by Michael Prior. Yes, yes please. Whenever someone reads something written by Rebecca Giggs they become evangelical about telling everyone about how awesome Rebecca Giggs is, so be warned that if you come to this event that may happen to you. This one is on the final Saturday night (June 1), 6.30 at Abbotsford Convent. Details here.



Words by Jess O’Callaghan. Check the Emerging Writers’ Festival website here.