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Radical Hope with Byron Writers Festival
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I'm reading
Radical Hope with Byron Writers Festival
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I'm reading
Radical Hope with Byron Writers Festival
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2 August 2022

Radical Hope with Byron Writers Festival

The Byron Writers Festival is back in 2022 with an incredible lineup of events for lovers of literature, compelling conversations and big ideas. We caught up with Artistic Director, Zoe Pollock, to chat about what we can expect from this year’s festival, and what it is exactly about literature that brings such richness to our lives.

Behind extraordinary ideas, there are extraordinary people. Dumbo Feather is a magazine about these people.

Discussed in this Story

Hooray! We are back to a writers festival in person. Tell us how that feels, after years of isolation. How important is this moment, to reconnect in real life?

It is incredibly important and … exciting! Writers festivals create such a wonderful opportunity for readers to connect with their favourite authors and writers to meet their readers in person. The silver lining of the pandemic was the number of fantastic books that were published by many of our top authors. Those people are now touring and we are delighted to be presenting the likes of Hannah Kent, Bruce Pascoe, Christos Tsiolkas, Evelyn Araluen, A.C. Grayling, Emily Bitto, James Bradley, Saul Griffith and many more at this year’s Byron Writers Festival.

Can you share with us some exciting moments that you have planned for attendees at this year’s festival?

This year’s festival theme is ‘Radical Hope’. We’ve programmed a series of events and conversations that bring together some of our leading thinkers to envision the future we need to build. A key focus of this discussion will be on our environment and the real world solutions we have available to us to address the climate crisis and builder a greener, better future for all. We’re excited to be presenting Saul Griffith, Damon Gameau and Bundjalung School Strike for Climate activist Mia Thom to lead this conversation as well as regenerative farming experts Matthew Evans, Costa Georgiadis, Anika Molesworth and Gabrielle Chan. We’ve also invited a number of First Nations writers and experts with the intent of creating space for listening to and learning from Indigenous peoples on how to care for country including Bruce Pascoe, Corey Tutt and First Nations astronomers, Karlie Noon and Krystal de Napoli.

Writers festivals facilitate moments for writers, who are frequently introverted personalities, to connect with their readers – and they’re always a mixed bag. What are some of the moments at Byron Writers Festival that have been unforgettable connections between writers and their readers?

This is my first festival as Artistic Director, but I’m told UK poet Lemn Sissay in 2018 was electrifying as he openly shared his traumatic story and pathway to healing, peppered with his powerful poetry readings – the standing ovation lasted over 5 minutes as audiences cheered and cried!

Bruce Pascoe is definitely a favourite amongst festival audiences, who in 2019 shared his deep knowledge for country with love and humility to a capacity crowd. We’re so pleased to have him back with his latest book Country: Future Fire, Future Dreaming this year.

There’s often a moment when a high profile public figure steals our hearts — Tanya Plibersek, Jimmy Barnes, Magda Szubanski and Tim Costello are just a few ‘big names’ who have surprised audiences with their raw honesty and vulnerability. Our authors often comment on how relaxed they feel in front of our lovely Byron audiences, it’s hard not to open up to them, I guess.

And then there’s all the hidden gems that we love presenting on stage each year to share their stories to enraptured audiences, who are too many to mention but there’s plenty to discover in 2022!

The theme of our most recent issue of Dumbo Feather is A Meaningful Life. How do reading, books and writers contribute to that life of meaning that we all seek?

I believe passionately that our reading habits build over a lifetime a rich and layered world view. Reading opens us up to different experiences and perspectives and can deepen our knowledge beyond our personal sphere. Books and literature act as a companion to our lives, providing solace when we need it, stimulating new ideas and ways of thinking and acting as worlds of escape. I still carry books in my heart that I read as a child or that made a great impression on me as a young woman. At writers festivals we celebrate this life of the mind and those of us who engage us in this incredible journey.

What can festival attendees experience at Byron Writers Festival that they won’t find anywhere else?

Byron Writers Festival offers people the opportunity to wander between marquees, dipping in and out of conversations and discovering new writers. A day pass buys you access to all sessions and you can choose what to listen to on a whim. It really is a beautiful experience and the collection of authors and book lovers all together on the one site creates a wonderful open air salon.

At Dumbo Feather, we are big readers and always on the hunt for the next great novel. Who are three ones to watch from this year’s festival?

Becky Manawatu’s bestselling multi-award-winning novel Aue, is both raw and sublime, introducing a compelling new voice in New Zealand fiction. The novel tells the story of teenage boy Tauriki and his eight-year-old brother Arama who is sent to live with rural relatives at Kaikōura.

Mirandi Riwoe is the author of Stone Sky Gold Mountain, which won the 2020 Queensland Literary Award – Fiction Book Award and the inaugural ARA Historical Novel Prize. She will be discussing her latest collection of short stories The Burnished Sun, which resurrects voices long lost to history, revealing the fragility of the human condition and our longing for belonging.

Finally, Emily Brugman’s The Islands is an incredible exploration of the migrant experience and our connection to natural landscapes. Drawing on her family’s experience, Brugman is a debut novelist descended from Finnish post-war migrants who made their living by fishing the Abrolhos Islands off Western Australia.


Byron Writers Festival 2022 will take place this 26 to 28 August, at Elements of Byron Resort, Byron Bay. View the full program and book tickets at byronwritersfestival.com/festival/

Photos by Kurt Petersen

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