Friday, May 17th, 2013

‘After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world’ ? Philip Pullman Storytelling, the theme of this year's Sydney Writers' Festival. 

Writers' Festivals are happening at different times of year, all over Australia. Melbourne, Byron Bay, Adelaide, Perth, Newcastle, to name a few, all have writers' festivals throughout the year. Usually a week or over a weekend, of conferences, guest writers, public readings and overall a literary feast.

This month - 20-26th of May is the Sydney Writers' Festival. The festival started in 1997 at the State Library of NSW, since then it has expanded rapidly, with over 400 participants, national and international, hundreds of events, all over Sydney.

This year, festival curator, Jemma Birrell's first program for the festival centres on storytelling. Included are a string of notable international and local literary names such as James Wood (The New Yorker), India's Anita Desai, Cheryl Strayed and Anna Krien. Stories and conversations about women's rights, women's strength and creativity are also on the program as are a few live storytelling events.

Some highlights

Opening Address: The Ghost at My Shoulder

Storyteller Daniel Morden reminds us of the power of oral storytelling

The Artist of Disappearance

Anita Desai (considered India's greatest living writer), in conversation with Deborah Levy

Obama: The Digital Campaign

Obama's digital campaign team offer an overview of the campaign

SWF shorts: The One Thousand and One Nights

Sydney Theatre Company's a Middle Eastern storytelling adventure

There are activities for kids and families as well such as the Sunday, family activities in the spectacular Big Top for Little People.

Writer-in-residence, Josephine Rowe, will also be the guest blogger on the festival's blog, posting daily musings, afterthoughts from ideas raised in the days events.

The majority of events are around the Walsh Bay precinct, near The Rocks and Sydney city with a few events in regional and suburban locations around the greater Sydney area. Sydney CBD hotels would be an ideal accommodation choice for the local events and for transport to the regional events too.

Over half of the events are free and ticketed events can be booked online but be quick as many are sold out!

Other Writers' Festivals this month:

The 10th Emerging Writers' Festival is being held in Melbourne around the same time (23/5 - 2/6) this year. The festival continues to grow and extend it's reach with new partnerships with ACMI, VCA and Melbourne Theatre company. A masterclass on theatre writing, screenwriting and literary performance sees the festival catering for writers across all genres. The popular Writers' Conference opens at the Melbourne Town Hall and continues to Abbotsford Convent for the second weekend. However many of the festivals events will be held around the city, so it's not too late to book a Melbourne CBD hotel. The festival this year will also announce the winner of the 2013 Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript.

Whether you're a writer, a reader, a listener or a watcher, there's something to satisfy your interest with the Writers' Festivals this month.

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