Follow your heart through MWF19.

It is said that love conquers all, but the all-consuming emotional state we call ‘love’ is capable of so much more than that. It stirs our creative spirits, brings us to our knees, inspires songs and sonnets and paintings and volumes, breaks us into tiny pieces and glues us back together again with gold adhesive.

Through the lens of this year’s theme, When We Talk About Love, authors, journalists, playwrights, poets, songwriters and artists will tell stories of resilience, of heartbreak and letting go, of family and bodies and home.

Held across the Festival’s new literary precinct from 30 August to 8 September, we’ll bring the city to literary life with talks, oration, music, immersive art and performance that explore the myriad ways that words move and inspire us.

At The Wedding Chapel at The Toff in Town, throw yourself into all the passion, romance, sex and heat of new love and fresh commitment with themed talks and performances celebrating that first flush of feeling – from a Marry Your Friends ceremony to live performances of best (and worst) I Do’s and I Don’ts.

Drawing a line on a toxic former experience, saying no to expectations from family, culture and community, or turning pain into comedy goldThe Divorce Court invites Festival artists to explore the process of making peace, letting go, and sometimes giving the past a solid kick out the door.

For steamy sessions on romantic reads, A Day of Romance unpicks the classics and cult reads, from the mansplaining Mr Darcy to consent, coercion and protection in sex scenes. Looking at six emotional states – anger, fear, disgust, happiness, sadness and surprise – through an LGBTQI+ lens, Queermotions invites us to examine ‘happily ever after’ from a rainbow perspective. If ya’ll are thirsty for YA, our YA Day explores pop culture currency, crafting complicated relationships and finding your chosen family.

For pieces penned especially for MWF19 by Festival artists, listen in for A Love Letter To a book, the self or the future, or settle in for soliloquies on When We Talk About motherhood, families, home and bodies.

In an Australian first, Croatia’s Museum of Broken Relationships will bring an innovative visual art and true-story experience to our shores. Showcasing local stories and pieces from the permanent collections in Zagreb and Los Angeles, this special exhibition offers a temple of heartbreak and healing.

For little literature lovers, our free Family Day at The Wheeler Centre is packed full of laugh-out-loud, creative sessions. An entire day devoted to comics and cartoons, Graphic Art Day features free workshops and in-conversation events with some of your favourite illustrators.

This year will also see the return of our Duets, pairings of emerging and established songwriters to wax lyrical about the creative process, our intimate Book Club series where authors share the tomes that most inspire and challenge them with an intimate audience, and hands-on Workshops and Masterclasses for those looking to sharpen their creative skills.

At MWF19 we hope you hear words and stories that heal you, move you, make you want to rise up and grow closer to your fellow humans. We will find ourselves reflected back in words and on the page, understanding that this shared experience of being alive can ultimately be used as a powerful connection.

Most of all, of course, we hope you listen to your heart. It’s trying to tell you something important.