Friday 6 September
What better way to end your week than flitting between Festival sessions? With a full day of sessions kicking off on Friday morning, there’s plenty to get your fix of creative conversation.
A showcase of new Australian literature, Melanie Cheng explores friendships that span cultures and generations, Robert Lukins considers questions of masculinity and vulnerability and Corey White speaks candidly on overcoming family trauma and drug addiction.
In powerful reflections on body and self, Tony Birch and Amy Gray recount personal stories of abortion, Patricia Cornelius and Alex Miller ask why we don’t write about desire in middle age, and a panel of artists discuss the intersection of disability and romantic relationships.
Fitting with the Festival theme, relationship doyenne Zoë Foster Blake reflects on finding gems of wisdom among the ashes of lost love, and Clementine Ford, Meriki Onus and Michael Rowland ask what popular commercial formats tell us about our hopes and hearts.
For some spoken work and song, Slam-O-Vision brings together poets from ten of the UNESCO Cities of Literature to compete for the world title, followed by a wild night of First Nations beats and bards at Nocturnal in Melbourne Museum.
Saturday 7 September
With the final weekend upon us, don’t miss your chance to immerse yourself in a world of love and literature this Saturday at Melbourne Writers Festival.
The Toff in Town plays host to the Festival’s Divorce Court, with sessions on learning to say no to expectations from culture and community, authors sharing their cling-and-release journeys of letting go, and lovelorn live crooning from musical duo Miles & Simone.
Striking a musical note in your Saturday, Duets returns with creative couplings of Vivien Goldman and Amanda Roff, Cat Hope and Karina Utomo and Georgia Maq & Angie McMahon, as well as artists unpicking the complexities of writing about someone you love.
Our free Graphic Art Day sees illustrators including Shaun Tan and Oslo Tan in conversations on creative craft, Charlotte Allingham reflecting on her work, Always Ways, becoming a powerful change the date symbol and Squishface Studio artists drawing their most Melbournian comics.
If you missed the fun of Family Day, A Not So Traditional Story takes children on an epic journey across the island of Lutruwita using masks and shadow puppetry to tell an important story of culture and friendship.
Festival highlights also include an in-conversation with New York Times bestselling essayist Sloane Crosley on her new essay collection Look Alive Out There, revered Canadian novelist Patrick deWitt sitting down with Michael Williams to discuss his latest book French Exit, and Amal Awad, Ruby Hamad, Sarah Krasnostein and Daniel Mallory Ortberg sharing a heartfelt note to their favourite tomes.
Sunday 8 September
At A Day of Romance, authors reflect on the power of romance fiction to challenge the political and cultural status quo, the responsibility of writers when navigating issues of consent, coercion and protection, and the need for greater diversity in a predominantly white, straight and able-bodied genre.
The Divorce Court comes to a fitting close with four artists reading pieces penned for MWF19 on their personal cling-and-release journeys, a live podcast exploring the gentle art of being melancholy with guest musicians, comedians and poets, and a raucous ‘letting go’ service for those needing to give the past a solid kick out the door.
Showcase sessions include Dear Prudence podcast host Daniel Mallory Ortberg sifting through the complex quandaries that hurt and heal our hearts with special guest Clementine Ford, and former prime minister of New Zealand Helen Clark in conversation with ABC’s Lisa Millar.
Across the Festival’s main program, Poet Laureate Selina Tusitala Marsh and Windham-Campbell Prize-winner Ali Cobby Eckermann explore spoken word as means of resistance, four advocates gather to discuss the growing family violence crisis, and a panel of authors unpack what family means to them.
Finally, don’t forget to join Closing Night: Last Goodbye as Sloane Crosley, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Val McDermid, Drew Hayden Taylor read pieces about their ‘last goodbye’, followed by a live music performance by Thando before we raise our glasses one last time.