5 Reasons You Should Go to the Melbourne Writers Festival

The annual Melbourne Writers Festival starts Friday, 26th of August. Even by my laziest calculation, there is no reason you shouldn’t go, and at the very least 5 reasons you should.

Melbourne Writer's Festival [image source: selfpublishing.today], crowd ink, crowdink, crowdink.com, crowdink.com.au
Melbourne Writer's Festival [image source: selfpublishing.today]

The annual Melbourne Writers Festival starts Friday, 26th of August. Even by my laziest calculation, there is no reason you shouldn’t go, and at the very least 5 reasons you should.

1. Richard Flanagan: Does Writing Matter

Richard Flanagan is the Man Booker Prize winning author of The Narrow Road to the Deep North, an astounding novel about a man trudging up Sydney Rd because somebody stole his front wheel, and then he lost his Myki pass.

Flanagan is the inaugural Boisvoucier Chair of Australian Literature at the University of Melbourne. Flanagan will be answering the question: Does Writing Matter? That means for a meagre $45 (concessions available) you could see Flanagan say the words: “Well yes, obviously.” The MWF website says Flanagan’s session will last 75 minutes. I assume they’re estimating over 74 minutes of rousing applause. Not to be missed!

Date & Time: Thursday 1st September, 6pm.
Venue: Athenaeum Theatre

2. Alexei Sayle: Thatcher Stole My Trousers

Here in Melbourne you could be forgiven for thinking the words ‘alternative comedy’ refers to hipsterish in-jokes like wearing something apparently ironic, or serving deconstructed guacamole. If such breaches of taste don’t spring to mind on hearing those words then you probably know the name Alexei Sayle.

Sayle is a British comedy legend who combines social history and memoir in Thatcher Stole My Trousers. He recounts the tale of the Iron Lady spilling confiscated school milk on Ronald Regan’s leg during a brunch. Whilst distracting the President with a hand puppet, she had one of her cabinet strip a working-class passer-by for his pants. At least this will be a good story he must have thought, as he caught the train home to Liverpool in his undies.

Sayle changed the landscape of British comedy. He was the first MC of London’s Comedy Store, and always interplayed his comedy with his leftist political concerns. In conversation with Richard Fidler, Sayle will talk about this new volume of his memoirs. The event, much like the book itself, will surely be violently funny, thoughtful, and fascinating.

Date & Time: Saturday 3rd September, 6pm.
Venue: Deakin Edge, Fed Square

3. Feminism Then & Now

At Deakin Edge, the essential Anne Summers will be joined by Yassmin Abdel-Magied and Sophie Cunningham. They are going to talk about the evolution of feminism over the last 40 years. Whilst there have been strong women’s movements all throughout history in different parts of the world. The last 40 years has seen a real shift. What’s changed? Is it attributable to the general liberal political escalation? Has the work of certain trailblazers (like Summers herself) pushed women’s rights to a position where it can no longer be ignored? Has evolution finally granted men the prophesised second brain cell? Whatever it is, or whatever it isn’t, feminism over the last 40 years is on the table at this MWF event.

Date & Time: Sunday 28th August 1pm
Venue: Deakin Edge, Fed Square

4. Books for Better Policy

I have a bit of a fantasy. The kind of fantasy that makes you bite your lower lip and roll around under the covers in a dark room. You can probably guess what I’m talking about. Imagine a world — where literature, truth and insight influenced policy. mmmmmmmmmmm.

Award-winning authors Anna Funder (All That I Am) and Yann Martel (Life of Pi) join Sophie Black to discuss how books can influence political judgement and make you a better person. They talk about the books that shaped their own lives, the books that taught them empathy, understanding, and insight. They’re even going to talk about books they think world leaders should read.

Hint: Donald Trump’s ghostwriter’s The Art of the Deal isn’t on the list. Legend has it that if you read the book under ultraviolet light all the pages say, “Please Burn Me.”

Date & Time: Saturday 27th August 4pm
Venue: Deakin Edge, Fed Square

5. Walks:
If you don’t like sitting in rooms listening to people talk about books, why not go on MWF Walk? When I first heard the idea I thought it was groups of people walking around the streets reading like some new-age fit-body-fit-mind gimmick. Question: What is more embarrassing, being hit by a tram whilst reading, or whilst playing Pokemon GO?

Actually, the MWF Walks are just a different, and lovely way to experience the festival, and Melbourne, simultaneously. From Indigenous history, to the thriving street art scene, there is a walk for everyone.