Brisbane Writers Festival 2021 Programme

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Brisbane Writers Festival Brisbane Writers Festival

It’s time for a new chapter of engaging storytelling – Brisbane Writers Festival (BWF) returns in 2021 with a hybrid programme of more than 100 live and virtual events across three days.


The festival bookmarks its 59th year with a celebration of the written and spoken word, showcasing local literary luminaries, including many with a stellar international profile.

In this, the festival’s lead-up programme to its 60th anniversary in 2022, new initiatives such as the First Word and Last Word events will invite a notable Indigenous artist to deliver the opening and closing words of the festival; and the Author/Editor Showcase about the professional relationship from ideation to publication.

More than 100 renowned writers, thinkers, artists and opinion-makers will share their diverse views and unique voices throughout the event.

“Brisbane Writers Festival has an amazing line-up of extraordinary national authors and wonderful local talent participating this year,” CEO Sarah Runcie says. “We are welcoming new initiatives in 2021, such as the First Word and Last Word events that celebrate and elevate First Nations’ voices and their rich history of storytelling, as well as extending our programme to provide online events that offer people across the state the opportunity and flexibility to engage with authors, thinkers, artists and writers from their living rooms.”

The First Word will be delivered by Indigenous writer Ellen van Neerven.

Special events include the Mother’s Day High Tea with bestselling author Kate Morton, ‘All I Have Is A Voice’ showcase, a ‘2040’ film screening and Q&A, and a powerful guided session with psychologist and Indigo Project Founder Mary Hoang.

Benjamin Law Artist headshot
Benjamin Law

The Closing Address will be provided by Christine Jackman (‘Turning Down The Noise’) followed by the Last Word from Ellen van Neerven.

BWF Guest Curator Benjamin Law has curated five sessions centring on the theme of survival and the sharing of knowledge for a better future together.

Other festival highlights include Tim Flannery on ‘The Climate Cure’, Victor Steffensen with his groundbreaking book ‘Fire Country’, and Trent Dalton and Richard Fidler discussing their latest works.

Virtual events include the ‘Climate: A New Story’ panel discussion, Christina Lamb on ‘Our Bodies, Their Battlefield’, and Indigenous authors Thomas Mayor and Megan Davis in conversation about community and activism.

Love YA also returns in 2021 with a full day of programming geared for fans of young adult fiction.

“I hope people respond to the diversity and depth of this year’s Brisbane Writers Festival program and the emergent themes around survival and mortality, but also what is positive, valued and affirming about these pertinent topics. And I hope one of the positive and affirming things is being able to attend the Brisbane Writers Festival again.”

Brisbane Writers Festival runs from 7-9 May at State Library Of Queensland and various Brisbane venues.

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