Festival Guide for Lovers of Literature

For more than 30 years, MWF has been a place for lovers of literature to converge and revel in the power of words. For Festival-goers with a serious alphabetical appreciation, we’ve compiled our top sessions that put words front and centre.

Literary Tattoos: Commit to your literary passions and ink a book to your skin. Twice-winner of the Doug Moran portrait prize Leslie Rice and his team of experienced tattoo artists from LDF Tattoos provide literary-themed ink for Festival-goers. 25 Aug, 10am


The Funeral Parlour: Love Letters to Loss: You are warmly invited to write a letter to whom or what you have lost. Your words of sorrow and heartache will be folded to form an intimate artwork of woe. This participatory art will immerse audiences in a cathartic, healing experience. 25-26 Aug


In Praise of the Feline: ‘There are two means of refuge from the misery of life – music and cats.’ So wrote Albert Schweitzer, and these passionate feline advocates agree. Join Helen Brown, Maria Dahvana Headley, Myles Loughran and Racerage for a literary purr. With Nadia Bailey. 25 Aug, 2.30pm


Sacred Texts: The Book That Made Me a Feminist: The path to feminism often begins with the powerful act of discovering the right text at the right time. Feminist writers Neko Case, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Michelle Law, Hollie McNish and Emily Nussbaum nominate the novel that set them alight. 26 Aug, 11.30am


Alexis Wright: Boisbouvier Oration: What is the power and purpose of literature? Alexis Wright, the only author to win both the Miles Franklin Award (Carpentaria) and the Stella Prize (Tracker), examines this question in her lecture as the Boisbouvier Chair in Australian literature at The University of Melbourne. 29 Aug, 6.30pm


Pretty for an Aboriginal: Set it Alight: Part podcast, part polemic, part stand-up, this conversation with Nakkiah Lui and Miranda Tapsell and a very special guest burns down the structures, strictures and power brokers that have governed the entertainment industry for too long. Featuring performances by upcoming Indigenous musician BIRDZ with support from Alice Skye. 29 Aug, 7pm


The Personal is Political: Bri Lee & Zoya Patel: Authors of two astonishing and raw debut memoirs, Bri Lee and Zoya Patel, discuss the implications of writing on a subject close to your heart, and the way that the personal can be used as a framework to explore systemic issues. With Shu-Ling Chua. 31 Aug, 11.30am


The Literary Body: In a world where women’s bodies are constantly politicised, MWF hosts a night of naturist spoken word performances and discussions in response to famous feminist texts in the hallowed library from Maude Davey, Krissy Kneen, Miss Jane Doe, Leisa Prowd and Frankie Valentine. Shed your clothes at the door.. 31 Aug, 7.30pm


Ideas Hospital: The Pen Hospital: The pen might be mightier than the sword, but what do you do when your favourite pen breaks? Don’t cry over spilt ink! Hear from expert pen doctors (yes, it’s a thing) from Milligram and passionate scribe Jess McGuire. 1 Sep, 11.30am


Vale: A Writer: From dusty annals of literary obituaries come departed authors you may never have heard of, but who absolutely deserve your attention. Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa, Alice Pung, Andrew P Street and Jamila Rizvi deliver personally written eulogies for their favourite late writers. Limited seating with plenty of standing room available. 1 Sep, 2.30pm