NEXT weekend the Fremantle Arts Centre gets turned over to the word, with the Perth Festival’s Writers Weekend coming back to where it was launched almost 40 years ago.
Opening night is Friday February 24 with a party under the stars where writers such as Sarah Malik and Winnie Dunn will go head-to-head with DJs, while festival artist-in-residence Jason Phu is working on a new piece for the night.
Over the weekend dozens of internationally successful authors will be holding readings and sharing insights into their work and participating in a variety of panel discussions and workshops.
Several authors are launching new books, including James Foley’s Secret Agent Mole, Hooray by Renae Hayward and illustrator Rebecca Mills, and a new picture book, Timeless, by Kelly Canby.
Writers Weekend curator Sisonke Msimang says it’s the first time the festival has been able to welcome eastern states writers since the Covid pandemic, which has helped to give the event a little diversity kick.
“We’ve got people like Brooke Blurton who’s a reality tv show star but also an incredible indigenous woman who’s from here in WA, and we’re hoping that that promotes some younger audience to come,” Ms Msimang said.
The weekend’s theme is “Steadfast as the stars” which relates to the Noongar word for stars Djinda which is an overall theme of the Perth Festival.
“And so it’s a celebration of the night skies, and of course, Steadfast as the stars is a line from a very famous poem by John Keats.
“We’ve taken that line, which really speaks to the constancy of the stars.
“Fremantle is an important place of Noongar spirituality, so for us to be able to celebrate writers weekend at the Fremantle Arts Centre is very special,” Ms Msimang said.
“We’ve also got a number of writers who live in Fremantle.
“Craig Silvey is one of Australia’s best-loved authors of books form young people, and he lives in Freo and he’ll be doing a really fun session on the Sunday for kids.
“The kid who dresses up as a dog will win a prize because one of the main characters in his latest book is a dog. The book is called Runt.”
Ms Msimang said this year they’re trying to attract people who’ve probably not considered turning up to a writers’ festival before.
“We’re really trying to encourage a new generation of people to start thinking about Writers Weekend as a space that they can claim.
“We know that there’s lots and lots of book clubs that are springing up, that are run by young men in particular.
So we want to encourage men to come.
“Typically writers weekend has been full of women and we love women, but we’d love to encourage more men to come as well.