The Best of Perth Writers Fest

February 20, 2017


Perth Writers Festival launched its 2017 program in January. I took home the playbill and placed it on my desk alongside its friends Fringe and PIAF in a conga line of booklets I hadn't yet opened. 

I hate these programs. They require study, they require planning, they require me to choose and choosing takes time. Time I often don't have.


BUT with the rare luxury of a two hour hair appointment last week, I sat at the salon armed with my PWF17 program and while the hairdresser threaded silver foil through my hair, forming me into something fit for a Stanley Kubrick film, I read the program from cover to cover. 


Filled with excitement, I set about highlighting all the sessions I wanted to see, then mapped out how it all fitted into the timetable. Luckily there aren't too many I will have to miss, although inevitably, you can't do it all. 


This year's event will expand horizons with a strong focus on social and world issues, with many international authors set to educate, enlighten and entertain. There is also a healthy share of local content, with Australian authors both local and national talking about their debut novels and new works.


This is an exciting program, one I feel will be well received by hardcore readers and writers looking for serious inspiration.


If you're struggling to find the time to work out what you'd like to see. Let me recommend my TOP TEN Best of the Fest to help you along.





Westerly Festival Poem

Reflection Pond

Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 Feb, 11am - 6pm 


You are invited to write a short poetic line about water on an origami boat and place it on the pond to drift away. On the final day local poet Nandi Chinna will compose all the lines into a single poem to be performed as well as published on Westerly's twitter feed and website.



Courtyard Sessions

State Theatre Centre of WA

$10 entry (book online)

Friday 24 and Saturday 25 Feb, 5pm until late

Words and ideas come off the page and onto the stage with 


Friday 24, 5pm until late

Friday we hear from three of the hottest spoken word artists – Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa, Omar Musa and Ziggy, before USA’s Adrian Todd Zuniga hosts Literary Death Match. Touted as Def Poetry Jam meets American Idol, this hilarious competition sees four authors perform a short excerpt of their most electric work before a panel of all-star judges. From 5–7pm, guests from the night will join RTRFM 92.1 for a special live broadcast of Drivetime, direct from the Courtyard.


Saturday 25, 6pm until late

Saturday we bring to life Nick Earls’ extraordinary series of linked novellas, Wisdom Tree, through music and readings with local performers. Then Marieke Hardy and Angie Hart bring you a special Perth Writers Festival edition of their smash-hit show Women of Letters – a captivating tribute to the lost art of letter writing.

Hosted by Black Comedy writer and star Nakkiah Lui.



The China Effect

Winthrop Hall

Friday 24 Feb, 10-11am

$14 Adult | $12.50 Student | $12.50 Festival Friend

China's history of social engineering and the repercussions for the future.

Madeleine O’Dea as been an eyewitness to the Chinese people’s ongoing struggle for freedom of expression over the last 30 years, Madeleine Thien’s latest novel examines the far-reaching effects of China’s revolutionary history and Mei Fong has spent years documenting the repercussions of the one-child policy on every sector of Chinese society.

These three authors talk to Annabel Smith about China’s history of social engineering and the repercussions for China’s future generations and the world.



YA Fiction (part of Love To Read Local Live)

Hacket Hall

Saturday 25 Feb, 1-2pm


Join our panel as they reflect on the role that fiction can play in helping young people navigate life’s complex pathways. Kate McCaffrey, Meg Caddy and Julia Lawrinsontalk to AJ Betts.

Presented in association with writingWA



Opinion Maker

Winthrop Hall

Friday 24 Feb, 11.30am-12.30pm

$14 Adult | $12.50 Student | $12.50 Festival Friend

There's an art to writing opinion pieces that are informed, provocative and funny.

We’ve asked three of the best – Lindy West, Sisonke Msimang and Peter Mares – to share the difference between constructive arguments that will change the world and polemic clickbait.



Creativity Bond

Dolphin Theatre

Friday 24 Feb, 1-2pm

$14 Adult | $12.50 Student | $12.50 Festival Friend

What is the cost of a creative life?

Does pursuing your dreams mean compromising on relationships? Jessie Burton, Anna North and Nick Earls consider the pressures of artistic integrity and the pull between art and heart. They talk with Annabel Smith.



The Good People

Octagon Theatre

Saturday 25 Feb, 6-7pm

$40 Adult | $25 Student | $36.50 Festival Friend

A stunning exploration of folklore and belief, rituals and stories.

Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites was one of the most talked about debut novels in Australia. Readers fell in love with her haunting tale of ritual and isolation in Iceland.

Her new book The Good People is equally exceptional, a stunning exploration of folklore and belief, rituals and stories in 19th century Ireland. Kent captures the beauty and lyricism of Ireland with great empathy for the struggle of the Irish people of that time.

She joins Richard Fidler in conversation about her brilliant new novel.



Songs of a War Boy

Octagon Theatre

Saturday 25 Feb, 2.30 - 3.30pm

$14 Adult | $12.50 Student | $12.50 Festival Friend

An important reminder of the power of compassion.

Recently named 2017 NSW Australian of the Year, Sudanese child soldier and refugee Deng Adut has overcome adversity to become a lawyer and advocate for the disenfranchised. 

Now helping refugees in Western Sydney, Adut’s story is an important reminder of the power of compassion and what can happen when we open our doors and hearts to those fleeing war, persecution and trauma. With Meri Fatin.



Paul Robeson: A Life Through Song

Murdoch Lecture Theatre

Saturday 25 Feb, 2.30 -3.30pm


The rise and fall of a modern renaissance man.

Paul Robeson was a modern renaissance man – a lawyer, linguist, actor, professional athlete, civil rights activist and one of the greatest singers of the 20th century. The son of an escaped slave, Robeson became an international superstar before his political convictions brought him undone. Author Jeff Sparrow uses Robeson’s music and other recordings to tell the story of the rise and fall of an extraordinary talent.



Curated by Kids

Tropical Grove

Sunday 26 Feb, 10am - 2.30pm


In 2017 ten young literature enthusiasts joined the programming team to take over the Perth Writers Festival Family Day.

The chosen guest curators have been working tirelessly to create the sessions they want to see, featuring an array of the wonderful talent we have in our 2017 Festival program.

Join young innovators Navaneeth Nanda, Ella Popham, Benjamin Babriecki, Genevieve Clements, Jacob Gordon, Madeleine Mayo, Jarvis Hicks, Michelle Loh, Zigge Gray and Zoe Wallin as they present this series of events.

These inspiring young programmers will be working with Festival guests Donovan Bixley, Zana Fraillon, Jacqueline Harvey, R.A. Spratt, James Foley, Oliver Phommavanh, Lance Balchin and Julia Lawrinson across Family Day.

Join us in the Tropical Grove for this very special event – and experience programming for the young, by the young.


Don't forget, there are also workshops and a huge family day planned for Sunday 26 Feb. So bring the kids and share your passion with them.


Please share your thoughts on the PWF program and I'd love to hear about what you are keen to get along to. 


Don't forget to join the festival conversation on Twitter with @PerWritersFest and #pwf17


I look forward to seeing you there.













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The Best of Perth Writers Fest

February 20, 2017

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