From politics and poetry to fiction and food, at Wellington Writers & Readers Festival

Writers & Readers
New Zealand Festival, Wellington
March 8-11

The full line up for Writers & Readers, part of the 2018 New Zealand Festival, was released this week, with programme manager Mark Cubey saying the eclectic programme offers something for everyone, from the voracious reader to those just dipping a toe into the literary world.

“The programme has been designed to encourage readers of all ages and all interests to be inspired and delighted, challenged and comforted by bold ideas and incredible stories,” he says.

A highlight of the programme will be the opening night event, Women Changing the World, a fast-paced, funny and fascinating series of talks from a group of women who are each doing their part to effect change in the world. The gala event is being held on International Women’s Day, March 8, and the line-up includes poet laureate Selina Tusitala Marsh, Australian novelist Charlotte Wood, broadcaster Kim Hill and American poet and memoirist Patricia Lockwood.

The Women Changing the World gala evening will be followed by three days of intimate sessions with writers and speakers, spanning topics from politics to poetry and fiction to food. This is not just a literary festival; as well as covering the best fiction and nonfiction writing, there are sessions on podcasts, filmmaking, photography, comics and games. “I believe the role of Writers & Readers is not only to satisfy existing audiences but also to find and develop new audiences, and the programme was designed with that in mind,” Mr Cubey says.

With the line between reality and make-believe drawing ever closer, speculative fantasy and horror will be explored through lectures and conversations with science fiction author and technology commentator Cory Doctorow, fantasy novelist Charlie Jane Anders and speculative fiction master Ian Tregillis. Award-winning author Lloyd Jones will join Australian writer Charlotte Wood in conversation about his latest novel, The Cage.

Social issues will be addressed through sessions that include theologian Lloyd Geering and American journalist Sarah Sentilles while British writer Francis Spufford discusses belief and the concept of God with Wellington fantasy writer Elizabeth Knox.

AC Grayling, author of Democracy and Its Crisis, will discuss the state of modern democracy, and intensive care specialist Charlie Corke will talk about what it might mean to have a good death.

There are also sessions that focus on visual aspects of storytelling, with illustrated conversations on storytelling through photography, illustration and comics. Nigerian photographer and author Teju Cole will discuss his work and those of others while New Zealand photographers Peter Black, Marcus Thomas and Neil Silverwood will also have their work on display. The free events and book fair provided by companion event, Photobook NZ, will showcase the best photography from here and around the globe.

Visiting comics include Singapore’s Sonny Liew, and Sarah Glidden and Mimi Pond from the United States alongside New Zealand cartoonists Sharon Murdoch and Toby Morris who will discuss the power of illustration.

Poetry and short prose will be championed by local writers including Selina Tusitala Marsh, Ashleigh Young, Hera Lindsay Bird and Bill Manhire and international visitors including Patricia Lockwood, Nick Earls and Jeet Thayil. Star Californian chef Samin Nosrat will explain the importance of the four elements that make up her book: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.

Victoria University Press will have a launch party to celebrate the publication of three books – Therese Lloyd’s The Facts, Vincent O’Sullivan’s All This by Chance and Gigi Fenster’s Feverish at the New Zealand Festival Club at Odlin’s Plaza.

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