Sydney Writers’ Festival: cancelled

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People shopping at Sydney Writers' Festival 2018 Carriageworks
Photograph: Prudence Upton

Time Out says

The 23rd Sydney Writers’ Festival has been cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns.

PLEASE NOTE: This event has been cancelled due to the government ban on mass gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic

“This is an unprecedented, deeply upsetting and challenging time for everyone, but the health and safety of writers, audiences, staff, publishers, volunteers and our community must come first,” said a demoralised SWF Artistic Director Michaela McGuire."


Each year, Sydney's streets fill to the brim with a crowd of writers, journalists, public intellectuals and audiences gathering for its long-standing celebration of literature, reading and ideas: the Sydney Writers' Festival.

But do you know what else happens every year? A group of scientists gathers to decide on the position of the hands on a 'Doomsday Clock', a metaphorical clockface that reflects humankind’s proximity to catastrophe. In 2020, they positioned it at 100 seconds to midnight, reflecting the closest that our civilisation has ever come to self-destruction. Bleak? Definitely! That’s why the voices of Sydney Writers' Festival are determined to wind back the clock with their theme, 'Almost Midnight'. 

This year, veteran artistic director Michaela McGuire is inviting 400 international and homegrown writers to the main SWF hub of Carriageworks, as well as many other venues across Sydney.

With the power of storytelling, the Sydney Writers' Festival will celebrate the work of these (and many more) eminent writers and thinkers, fighting to reverse catastrophe in unprecedented times. Gomeroi poet and author of Blakwork, Alison Whittaker will deliver the opening address on this theme alongside Booker prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo. Other internationally-renowned guests headlining are author of the best-selling Three Women, Lisa Taddeo, and Noble Peace Prize-nominated Hong Kong protest leader, Joshua Wong, as well as revered authors like Siri Hustvedt, Eimear McBride, Colum McCann and author of Doxology, Nell Zink, among others. Expect earnest, forward-thinking discussions which go to the heart of what it means to have hope in our world. 

There'll be bucketloads of Australian talent, too. Bruce Pascoe of the searing essay collection Dark Emu, will be speaking on of his latest collection, Salt. Singer and author Clare Bowditch will be in conversation with Leigh Sales, Yael Stone will appear for an evening of song and storytelling and Miranda Tapsell will discuss her memoir, Top End Girl. Christos Tsolkias, a mainstay on the Australian literary scene, will also be speaking and is guest-curating, alongside Whittaker and Rebecca Giggs. Each brings their own vision to this year's highly topical theme. Also, Australia's literary scene is bursting with fresh talent – there are too many to name, but the best part of the festival is stumbling onto dynamic ideas from emerging voices you hadn't heard of before.

And what about the kids? SWF always puts on a good show for the whole family, and this year, Dav Pilkey of Captain Underpants fame will take the stage to share about his work and his writing life. Carriageworks will host 'All-Day YA'  for the first time, and Raina Telgemeier and young-adult fantasy author Leigh Bardugo are other highlights. 

The festival will take over venues across the city including the Seymour Centre, Town Hall, City Recital Hall, Parramatta Riverside Theatres, the Chatswood Concourse as well as libraries and community halls across the Sydney region. Ticket prices vary but many events are absolutely free. 


Event website:
Event phone: 02 9250 1988

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