2016 Sydney Writers' Festival

on Book events
This post takes 4 minutes to read
Photo of the warf with writers' fesitval attendees walking around. Text reads Sydney Writers' Festival in dark blue

One of my aims when we moved to Sydney was to attend as many events as possible, and really take advantage of the opportunities available while living here. I still remember this time last year, realising I had completely missed out on the Sydney Writers' Festival. I was determined that it would not happen again. As 2016 rolled around, I kept my eye out on twitter for news of ticket releases, and eventually my vigilance paid off. I believe it was a retweet by Benjamin Law that caught my eye, and had me clicking instantly through the Writers' Festival website, frantically opening tabs, trying to calculate how many events I could afford and which decide which ones I would chose, when so many had similar time slots.

Both time (the end of semester crunch) and money ultimately meant I had to restrict myself to mostly free events, and two ticketed events. I also was only able to go on the Saturday and Sunday, though there were events during the week I was interested in. I successfully bought two tickets to 'Our Reading Year' with Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales, for myself and my best friend. I then decided to take Jonno with me to the second event, 'Ladies Online', as it touches on areas of interest for both of us, though I was mostly just excited about Natalie Tran being on the panel.
Unfortunately, I didn't fully think things through and missed out on TeenCon tickets, which was kind of devastating, but I still had a great weekend.

Photo of Sydney writers' festival tickets for the event 'Ladies Online'
Bankstown Poetry Slam

There were so many people who wanted to attend this that they had speakers outside so overflow people could sit and listen. I was lucky enough to get a seat inside. It was an event I was really keen to get to, slam poetry is something I love watching on youtube and so I was excited to see some actually performed. The event was a showcase of the poetry that often gets performed at the Bankstown Poetry Slam, which is a regular thing. All of the poetry was excellent, and I loved that there were so many awesome female poets. My favourite was 'This is what a feminist looks like'.

Avant Gaga

I went to the Avant Gaga poetry event in the evening with a couple of friends from the Story Factory. This is based on an event usually run at Sappho Books in Glebe, by Poetry Australia. The difference between reading poetry and performing poetry was really striking to me going to these two poetry events in the same day. I infinitely preferred the poetry slam, but I did like some of the poetry at the reading. Most of it was a bit too avant-garde for me. I enjoyed a.j.carruthers' performance and I like Lionel Fogarty's poetry.

Two photos. Top photo shows a panel of white people talking. Bottom photo shows a takaway coffee and paper in front of a window looking over the water
Coffee and Papers

I headed in quite early on the Saturday just to avoid all the potential issues track work, and then trying to pick up tickets could cause. This meant I got there in time for the Sydney Morning Herald's Coffee and Papers discussion. The panel included . It was a really interesting discussion, I particularly enjoyed Marie Darrieussecq's discussion about the French publishing industry, and how they do not differentiate between fiction and non-fiction quite the way we do, and also that they have set prices for books - which is obviously interesting given the current discussions about the productivity commission recommendations. If I remember correctly from my time in France, I believe France also has regulations about when stores can have sales, and what kinds of discounts apply.

A collage of three photos from the Our Reading Year talk with Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales. Top photo shows a large black stage and background with two women sitting in large red chairs infront of a table. Their features are indestinguisable. Bottom left shows part of the audience, and the two women standing on the edge of the stage talking to an audience member. Bottom right is a self of two white women smiling, one has blond hair and glasses, the other has brown hair.
Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales

I was most excited about Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales because I am a massive fan, both of their journalistic work and of their fabulous podcast, Chat10Looks3. I really enjoyed the talk, it was just like listening to the podcast except in a large theatre full of people. I did hear that some people didn't enjoy it, but I suspect they weren't fans of the podcast so it wasn't what they were expecting.

Collage of four photos from around the festival. Top left shows two banners promoting the festival. Top right shows a decorated blue buss called Russ the Story Bus with people walking in front. Bottom left shows the warf with people walking around, in the background you can see the top of the Sydeny Harbor Bridge. Bottom right shows people walking along a road, there is a large tree in the foreground and a building with banners reading Rosyln (it is the Roslyn Packer Theatre.)

I had a bit of a wander through the kids section - the unticketed part - just to have a look around. There was a really cool wall where kids made up words and their definitions and stuck them up. I really enjoyed reading all of them. I also liked the Harry Potter mural. Highlight for me however was the celebration for Grug's birthday - 40 years of Grug! Grug was a huge part of our household growing up and I was the lame, overly excited adult lining up with a bunch of kids half my size to get a signed book. Totally worth it.

Collage of four photos. Top left shows a ground of people with balloons. Top right shows a crown of people around a person in a Grug costume. Bottom left shows the Grug constume with a bald white man in a blue check shirt cutting a cake. Bottom right shows a book open to the title page. It says Grug and his music and is signed by Ted Prior, the author.
Ladies Online

The final event I went to was Ladies Online, which was with Tara Moss, Natalie Tran, Rosie Waterland and moderated by Emma Jane. It was a really great, frank discussion about the various ways women are treated online, and the way it intersects with other aspects of who we are, such as race or physical appearance. It wasn't so much that they said things that haven't been part of the discussion already, it was just that it was encouraging to continue that discussion, and seeing how many people came along and listened was really great - though it was nearly all women.