Marieke Hardy farewells MWF

Dearlings, it’s time for me to wave goodbye to MWF (or, at least, wave a semi-goodbye as I have quite openly threatened to continue making a nuisance of myself around the office and Festival until they call security). It’s a decision that’s been made with no small amount of teeth-gnashing and heartbreak but ultimately the siren call to return to my writing and making career full-time has been impossible to resist. Please trust me – it is a mutually warm parting of ways, and at least now I get to go back to working without pants safe in the knowledge that nobody near me will run screaming from the room.

The last two years immersed in Festival life have been the most exhilarating, life-affirming and downright unifying experience. To be held so tightly by the literary community, to make new friends and soul-family through shared excitement over words and stories, to be momentarily naked in the iconic State Library of Victoria! I feel intensely grateful that attendees of MWF, new and old, opened themselves up to some wildly different literary arts offerings in the program and allowed space for change. Melbourne is a city rich with art-lovers and curious creatives; I feel so confident there remains a pocket where we can explore unconventional ways to celebrate stories and storytellers. Whether it be in an Animal Church or at a silent dance party, a pretend funeral or a ceremony where we marry our friends….there are ways for us to connect as humans and have a shared moment. Ultimately, that’s all I hoped to do during my time at MWF. Place a gentle reminder in the world that we’re all doing our best with what we have each day, and the more we can understand each other’s lived trauma and joy, the better we can co-exist.

The past two years together we interrogated life, death, love, grief, broken relationships, resilience, home, family, song and spirit – through books, poems, plays, spoken word and performance. We read eulogies to the environment, our careers, our failed love affairs, our never-agains. We heard writers we loved sharing their deepest passions and stories of survival. We sketched our favourite authors, wrote love letters, and some of us were even brave enough to get a literary tattoo! It felt like what it was intended to be: a party of readers, a celebration, a gathering-together of brains and souls to dream and hope.

From my heart I thank the MWF Board for taking a chance on my little weirdo Art-brain and the tiny team at the Fest for letting me grow and develop right in the coalface. And the biggest thanks of all to YOU, our audience, for allowing me the honour of steering the MWF ship in 2018 and 2019. I can’t wait to actually attend MULTIPLE EVENTS in 2020 as an enthused audience member. Hugs still warmly available.

With love and gratitude,

Marieke x