Ursula Yovich. Image credit: Laura Murphy-Oats
When award-winning performer Ursula Yovich found herself back in her estranged mother’s hometown in Arnhem Land, in charge of the complex arrangements for her mother’s traditional funeral ceremony, the distance that had come between them over the years weighed heavily. In this article for the NITV news, Yovich describes how her own unfamiliarity with the rituals that form such an important aspect of Indigenous culture became the starting point for her play concept, which has won the Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright’s Award.
The play will adapt her personal journey for the stage, exploring the ways that her identity as both Aboriginal and Serbian has shaped her, and how traditions and ceremonies form an important part of her cultural heritage.
We are thrilled to announce the program details for our networking day, Friday 26 August. Writers and readers from around the country will come together at the iconic Queen Victoria Building in Melbourne’s CBD to discuss topics from feminist publishing and the politics of personal writing, to building feminist communities and mothering from the fringes.
Writers include Maxine Beneba Clarke, Anastasia Kanjere, Lian Low, Susan Hawthorne, Emily Maguire, Zoya Patel and Clare Wright, who will speak from their experience, in discussion with the audience – networking, interrogating, conversing and questioning what it is to be a feminist writer and reader. View the full program here.
Tickets for the Feminist Writers Festival members-only networking day (Friday 26 August) are on sale now, available to purchase online only, here.
Our full program will be unveiled later this week, but for now we can tell you that sessions including feminist publishing, building feminist community, the politics of personal writing, and writing for kids with a feminist lens, will feature feminist writers and commentators from across the country including Clare Wright, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Susan Hawthorne, Evelyn Araluen Corr, Fiona Wright, Monica Dux, Emily Maguire and Lian Low.
Our full list of Feminist Writers Festival sessions and speakers will be announced soon. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek of what to expect.
The networking day on Friday 26 August is geared directly at feminist writers, and will build on the broad range of ongoing conversations across our community.
Our main space will feature an engaging set of discussions digging into the challenges feminist writers face and the insights they bring. The day will commence with spoken word and poetry performances, curated by Maxine Beneba Clarke. It will also feature:
- Clem Ford, Jenna Price and Evelyn Arleen Corr discussing writing on politics as a feminist.
- A focus on feminism and fiction with Merlinda Bobis, Emma Ashmere and Anna Spargo-Ryan.
- The thorny question of ‘what is feminist writing?’, led by Emily Maguire, Jean Taylor and Lian Low.
In the workshop space, we are planning:
- A conversation on the challenging issue of how we (as feminists) can stop tearing each other apart, facilitated by Monica Dux, Andie Fox and Clem Bastow.
- A session on building your feminist community led by Karen Pickering and Maxine Beneba Clarke.
- A session led by Clare Wright and Liz Conor on countering the ‘big man’ approach to history.
Today we launched our new initiative, Friends of the Festival. We’ve been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and support for the Feminist Writers Festival. To say thanks, we want to give you the opportunity to score some early perks and get your hands on one of 100 Friends of the Festival memberships.
For only $35, you’ll score exclusive invites, mates rates for our networking event, prize opportunities and more. Plus, you’ll be helping make this festival great. Your donation will go directly towards adding more artists to the program and bringing writers from interstate. With your support we can bring together as many feminist readers and writers as possible. Find out more here and become a Friend of the Festival here.
British poet, rapper, playwright and writer Kate Tempest was in Australia recently for the Sydney Writers Festival, where she gave the opening address to wide acclaim and appeared at a number of other sessions. Tempest followed this up with an appearance at the Wheeler Centre on Thursday 26 May, where she was interviewed by FWF Steering Committee member Maxine Beneba Clarke in front of a packed audience.
The whole interview (which includes a reading by Tempest) is wonderful, but I was particularly interested in Tempest’s discussion of her desire to turn the traditional novel on its head by focusing on a multiplicity of people living their own quiet but deeply complex lives within a community, rather than on the rarefied individual hero’s journey. Tempest also discussed her decision to depict one of her characters, who works in the sex industry, positively and to demonstrate that she is empowered by the work she does. This came about partly because she was tired of constantly seeing sex workers in film and TV who were characterised as disempowered, and murdered for entertainment.