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Maxine Beneba Clarke’s Best of the Fest

Maxine Beneba Clarke is the author of over ten books, including the ABIA winning short fiction collection Foreign Soil, the memoir The Hate Race, and the poetry collections How Decent Folk Behave and Carrying the World. She is currently Poet in Residence at Melbourne University.

Discover the events Maxine Beneba Clarke is most looking forward to at the Festival this year and her reflections on the Festival theme, I’ve Been Away For a While. You can catch Maxine Beneba Clarke at the Peter Steele Conversation: Poetry in Motion.


Salon Saturday

So you’ve only got one day to enjoy Melbourne Writers Festival? I’ve compiled below a Saturday program of poets, performers, writers, artists and agitators. Pick your favourite session, or if you’re able to attend all of them, there’s also space in your day for a quick morning coffee break and long lazy lunch and city wander. And you can still be home in time for dinner, or to pick up the kids from the grandparents place, where they’ve been lovingly parked for the day (book that in now!).


Art and Stories
Sat 6 May, 10.30am 
State Library Victoria, Village Roadshow Theatrette

As an author-illustrator, and having collaborated on a number of art and writing projects, I’m increasingly interested in the intersection of artforms, and the myriad collaborative ways stories can be told. Art and Stories, curated by Ellen van Neerven, features Indigenous artists and storytellers: poet Charmaine Papertalk Green, photo-media artist Dianne Jones, and glass artist Yhonnie Scarce, and is my pick for those interested in art in all its forms. I’ll possibly be sneaking into the audience of this one myself!



Peter Steele Conversation: Poetry in Motion
Saturday 6 May, 12pm
State Library Victoria, Village Roadshow Theatrette

Okay, yes, you’re right, I’m chairing this session. Shameless! But hear me out…As Australia gets ready to welcome our first Poet Laureate (no, I have no inside intel!), Greek Australian anarchist poet Pi.O, Sarah Holland-Batt (the author of the stunning recent collection The Jaguar, which is currently shortlisted for The Stella Prize) and Gunai novelist, poet and playwright Kirli Saunders (author of the award-winning verse novel Bindi) join me for a conversation about the power of poetry. This panel will be loosely based around poetry and visual art, poetry and the spirit, and poetic legacy – taking theses themes from the life and work of the late Australian poet Peter Steele.



Queering the Canon
Saturday 6 May, 4.30pm
The Capitol

Chaired by writer and performer Maeve Marsden, Queering the Canon is my pick for a conversation that is sure to be lively, interesting and audacious. Claire G Coleman, Krissy Kneen and Kirli Saunders are three writers whose work and perspectives are fierce, forthright and fearless. The addition of international voices Bill Hayes and Benjamin Dreyer make this event a must. The authors will discuss the queer canon, and the works that have influenced the way they write about gender and sexuality – so jot down a reading list, and end your Saturday salon with a visit to the Festival store. Hosting is also an underappreciated skill, and Marsden’s steering of conversations is always generous and engaging.



What have you been away from for a while?

I’ve been on deadline for two books over the last few months, so mentally I’ve been in the creating cave, away from everything for a while. I’ve been away from relaxation; other art; conversation. Enter Melbourne Writers Festival: just at the right time!