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Not just about books: Melbourne Writers Festival 2013

Phoebe Yuen

Mon Aug 19 2013


THE Melbourne Writers Festival is fast approaching but don’t assume that it’ll be only about books! Phoebe Yuen highlights some of the most interesting events of the 11-day festival. 


Although the the upcoming Melbourne Writers Festival is a celebration of the written word, books and literature aren’t the only focal points. The festival also cherishes off-the-page creativity and the exchanging of thoughts and ideas.

Running from August 22 to September 1, this year’s festival features local and international writers, thinkers, politicians, artists and newsmakers. The festival spans across eleven categories with a wide range of events such as talks, film screenings, workshops, debates and discussions, and performances.

If you’re unsure as to what you can do while you’re at the Melbourne Writers Festival, we’ve broken down some of the categories and picked what we think are the best choices within each category.

Keynotes & Big Ideas

Comedian Ophira Eisenberg will be on stage performing her personal story of courage and triumph in The Moth. Image provided by MWF.

Comedian Ophira Eisenberg (pictured)will be on stage performing her personal story of courage and triumph in The Moth Mainstage. Image: Supplied

Keynotes & Big Ideas‘ events feature influential individuals such as politician and ex-journalist Boris Johnson, comedian and host Ophira Eisenberg, fashion writer and blogger Tavi Gevinson, as they recount their stories and share their love of the written word. These speakers and more will also give thought-provoking discussions regarding a range of topic such as politics, gender equality, altruism, religion and sex.

Writer’s pick: The Moth Mainstage

In this theatre production, you can experience the magnificent story-telling power of some of the world’s best story-tellers, including comedians Ophira Eisenberg and Magda Szubanski, Lonely Planet co-founder, Tony Wheeler and Australian writer, Melissa Lucashenko. Together, these storytellers explore the theme of courage with their own stories, offering up an entertaining and inspiring night for all.

As a creative production, The Moth has worked well in the United States and to find an example of what this event entails, see the video of Ophira speaking candidly about her car accident.

Arts, Music and Performance 

Marjorie M. Liu will be speaking about her comic book run with Marvel and her other pet projects. Image provided by MWF.

Marjorie M. Liu (pictured) will be speaking about her numerous comic book runs with Marvel Comics and her other pet projects. Image provided by MWF.

The Arts, Music and Performance events provide you opportunities to enter the world of artists, musicians, play writers, illustrators and performers. Through different formats of communication such as discussion panels, live performances, guided walk and art installations, this part of the festival explores a different side of the writing world.

Writer’s pick: Inside X-Men

We’re all familiar with X-Men’s superheroes but are we familiar with its writers? Comic book writer Marjorie M. Liu will appear at the Melbourne Writers Festival where she will discuss her collaboration with Marvel Comics and open up about the world of the X-Men. In addition to writing comic book stories, including Daken: Dark Wolverine (with Daniel Way), Black Widow, and X-23, Marjorie is also an author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance novels.

Digital Futures

Gideon Haigh will be among the experts discussing social media's impact on our collective intelligence and attention.

Gideon Haigh (pictured) will be among the experts discussing social media’s impact on our collective intelligence and attention. Image provided by MWF.

Digital technology has been an important part of our lives which is no surprise why technology and the impact of digital culture on our lives is a point of discussion at the Melbourne Writers Festival in their Digital Future category.

Writer’s pick: New News: Is New Media Making Us Stupid?

Has consuming Facebook and Twitter become an everyday habit? With studies showing that our attention spans are quickly becoming shorter and shorter, Gael Jennings from the Centre for Advancing Journalism sits together with a team of journalists, authors and professors to discuss social media’s impact on our collective intelligence.

Professional Development 


Chandrahas Choudhury (pictured) talks about the books that have inspired him to read in MWF’s Why I Read session. Image provided by MWF.

Professional Development’s events are perfect for enthusiastic writers serious about their craft. Industry experts and the some of world’s best writers will be hosting masterclasses about story-telling and writing for different genres including, essay, poetry, crime, music, fiction and much more.

Writer’s pick: New News: The Pitch

Pitching is not only limited to freelance journalists, or public relation practitioners. We all need to know how to sell ideas in a clear, interesting and succinct way, especially when we are looking for opportunities to break through. This free event gives is a great brain exercise for those eager to jump at the opportunity to pitch to editors Jill Baker (Herald Sun), Cathy Alexander (Crikey), John van Tiggelen (The Monthly) or Duska Sulicich (Sunday Age) with MC Simon Mann (The Citizen).

Exploring the World (Travel, Science, Sociology)

Annie Zaida (pictured) will be on hand to discuss powerful stories of women in India at Bookwallah: Good Girls, Bad Girls and Terrible truths event. Image provided by MWF.

Annie Zaida (pictured) will be on hand to discuss powerful stories of women in India at Bookwallah: Good Girls, Bad Girls and Terrible truths event. Image provided by MWF.

The world as we know it is enormous and is a place full of different cultures, languages, beliefs and religions. Ranging from all sorts of writers and travelers from all walks of life, Exploring The World exposes our planet through a different set of eyes.

Writer’s pick: Bookwallah: Encountering India-An outsiders perspective

Australian writers Sushi Das, Benjamin Law and Claire Scobie all discuss and share their perception of and experiences in India. They will also touch on topics such as arranged marriages, growing up in an Indian family and their experiences of writing about India.

Check out the full range of events categories and save yourself a seat early by avoiding disappointment. Tickets are going really fast, and some events have already sold out. Don’t forget to check out the list of free programs on offer at the festival

Events are held at a number of venues across Melbourne mostly around the city, but also some of them also take places at Deakin University, Elsternwick, Northcote, Fitzroy North. More information about MWF’s venues can be found at the Melbourne Writers Festival’s official website.