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Five things not to miss at The 2017 Canberra Writers Festival

Elizabeth Harris

Power, Politics, Passion. 

There are perhaps no three words which better encapsulate life in the nation’s capital. However, this little snippet of alliteration (a linguistic tool loved by writers everywhere) is an even better descriptor of the 2017 Canberra Writers Festival.

Festival Chair Allan Behm agrees that the Festival epitomises much of what it means to live in Canberra, saying “The festival partner institutions have opened their doors to offer both visitors and native Canberrans a wonderful opportunity to talk, listen, converse, question and generally make the most of what Canberra does best: help build and sustain an engaged and inclusive nation.”

Held annually, the Canberra Writers Festival attracts a veritable smorgasbord of literary greats for your mind to feast on. Hosted at eight iconic Canberra locations including the National Portrait Gallery and Old Parliament House and running over three days from Friday 25 to Sunday 27 August, the Festival is a highlight for the Australian literary community.

From Tracy Chevalier of Girl With a Pearl Earring fame to Jane Caro, well-known social commentator and lecturer, the Festival boasts an undeniably glittering line-up.

Festival Director Vickii Cotter emphasises the importance of the contributions of presenters at the Festival, saying “The experience of hearing your favourite author in one of our iconic National Institutions is something that is unique to the festival.”

We have tried to distil over a hundred authors and dozens of events into a list of five things not to miss at this year’s Festival, but we ask for your forgiveness because everything is a must-see.

Opening Night Dinner with Matthew Evans

Matthew Evans

Matthew Evans

Kick-off your Festival experience in style at the Opening Night Dinner on Thursday 24 August from 7pm. Taking place in the airy, iconic National Portrait Gallery, attendees can expect a night of wine, food and conversation, wandering around the Gallery during this exclusive after-dark opening.

Special guest Matthew Evans – former food critic and Tasmanian farmer – will introduce his audience to his nine books on food, with a special focus on his latest culinary masterpiece, Gourmet Farmer Deli Book.

Kathy Lette: Live!

Uproariously funny, sultry and scandalous, Kathy Lette’s writing career began with the publication of modern Australian classic Puberty Blues. Exploring tales of love, lust, ageing, toy boys and gallivanting around with George Clooney, in this live event on Saturday 26 August at 2pm, the National Library of Australia will open its doors to the spicy discourse of Kathy. The audience may even be lucky enough to hear about Lette’s most recent book, Best Laid Plans, which explores the life of Lucy, a loving mother whose attempts to help her autistic son lose his virginity. Quirky, chaotic and funny, Lette’s new novel promises to please.

Silent Reading Party

Held in the historic Members Dining Room at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 August from 10.30am-4.30pm, this is the perfect excuse for some me-time. Taking you back to your school days where “silent reading” was a daily ritual, this event welcomes the public to curl up on a beanbag, or munch away at a meal from Hoi Polloi while reading a good book.

You can bring a book from home, or buy one from the Festival Bookshop; either way, this is the perfect way to fill the gaps between the many events we are sure you’ll be attending at the Festival.

Looking for Alibrandi at 25

Melina Marchetta

Melina Marchetta

Many an Australian will remember reading Melina Marchetta’s classic contemporary tale of one Italian-Australian girl becoming a woman. Taking you back to whenever you first read the book – likely when you yourself were also going through this transition – this event will feature a talk by the author, exploring the last 25 years since the book was written.

After the talk, the Visions Theatre at the National Museum of Australia welcomes you to relax back for a public screening of the film. Taking place on Sunday 27 August at 1.15pm, this is the perfect way to spend a wintery afternoon.

Ministry of Truth

The Friday Night keynote talk will explore themes of truth, surveillance and control. Fake News has been highlighted in popular culture by the fiery rhetoric of one American politician, and the advent of the TV adaptation of Margaret Attwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, but is of course a familiar concept from any George Orwell Fanatic.

Drawing together the expertise of Rutger Bregman, Katy Gallagher, Katherine Murphy, George Megalogenis and Tony Jones, under the guidance of host Dan Bourchier, this panel will delve into the murky underworld of public speech. Join the panel on Friday 25 August at 7pm at the Museum of Democracy at Old Parliament House for a night of intellect and criticism.

This stunning schedule of events proves that the pen is mightier than the sword, so pick up your biro and write down these details so that you don’t miss out!

the essentials

What: The 2017 Canberra Writers Festival
When: 25- 27 August
Where: A variety of venues across Canberra
Tickets: Tickets are on sale now and can be booked online or by calling Ticketek on 132 849
More information: www.canberrawritersfestival.com.au

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Elizabeth Harris

Elizabeth Harris is currently studying Law and Arts at the ANU. She majors in Art History and has a minor in French. She has a hunger for fashion and food, and is a lover of the fabulous Canberra arts scene and many farmers’ markets. She has a deep interest in the intersection between the arts and law, and hopes to undergo further study in this area. Alternatively, she dreams of writing an art history thesis on the subject of memes. She can commonly be found enjoying a delicious cappuccino at any one of Canberra’s staple cafes, but particularly Tilley’s which she has frequented since she was four years old. When she grows up/old she wants to be just like Iris Apfel.

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