First Nations Curator
First Nations storytelling traditions are the oldest surviving storytelling traditions in the world. This storytelling is thriving in the contemporary literature of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers.
In my curation I am especially highlighting the authors of new releases – incredible books in genres as varied as fiction, poetry, memoir, science, essay and cookbooks. In complement to this, this curation promotes the voices of Elders, young people and local visionaries. General themes shared across books include family, earth, fire, water, relationships, shelter and food. It’s a varied program – something for everyone!
After the year that’s been, I’m really looking forward to getting together again. Our stories are just too strong to be held down.
Country of Focus (NZ/Aotearoa and Pasifika) Curator
"We all have to remember that New Zealand is built on these kinds of people who are rebels and renegades, people doing it their own way, fighting for freedom, and braving the elements. I think it’s cool to celebrate that." - Taika Waititi
All of the incredible writers who feature within the Country of Focus and Pasifika programs carry this legacy of ‘doing it their own way’, creating work that is often not tied to a form or style. Curating these programs has been an extremely challenging and often excruciating task as there could have easily been double the number of writers selected in this year’s stellar BWF 2022 line-up. I invite you to accept this invitation to come and be kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) with some of Aotearoa and the Pasifika’s most unique, respected and remarkable voices, renegades from across the ditch, unbound, writing their own way.
Maybe it’s the voyeur in me, but one of my favourite things in the world is listening to writers I admire in conversation with each other. There’s something so enriching – and arguably pervy – about overhearing two like-minded literary heroes compare notes: about their rhythms and routines; processes and practice; what they agree and disagree on. So I’m thrilled to have curated over 20 sessions at Brisbane Writers Festival featuring some of Australia’s leading thinkers, provocateurs and storytellers in deep conversation and surprising each other – and us – in the process. Between this and the rest of the program, it's an all-star line-up, and I’m having a nosebleed just thinking about it.
It’s a total honour to be curator of International events in 2022. It’s exciting that these authors will be beamed live on-screen, in conversation with great local interviewers.
When curating, I was drawn to writers and works that would bring new perspectives on old histories, deepen our sense of others, entrance and inspire change – whether in love, in family bonds or friendships, for justice, or to stoke our imaginations.
Our current climate is extreme: an overwhelming desire to be heard at the same time that we can’t seem to listen. The rights of the individual over the communal. My hope is that the stories and voices you’ll hear from these authors will allow you to see the world, and history, through their eyes. Their novels, memoirs and non-fiction show us where we’ve been and where we might be going, how to witness history that’s been buried and to imagine new futures.
From Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Abdulrazak Gurnah, to iconic storyteller Isabel Allende, to singer Ricki Lee Jones and poet Honorée Fannone Jeffers, these are stories about family, racism, love and community. They’re also about things that feed creativity. While many of these books are about ‘Big’ moments in history, what struck me is how brilliantly they showed the way the political is experienced and lived by people; how it shapes their everyday interactions, their ways of loving and being in their world. Ultimately I wanted to bring stories and authors to audiences that could show us the multitude of ways we are connected, driven by our impulses to love, to survive, to create, to live in freedom and with dignity. And how listening to others helps us listen to and understand our own stories too. I can’t wait to see you in the room at these events.
Children & Young Adult Curator
When I was in high school, Young Adult Fiction wasn’t what it is now. Sure, I could find books with characters who were my own age, but it was hard to know where to find stories I could relate to, or which were set in the country I lived in. To come back to YA as an adult was what got me reading again after what seemed like a long time. The #LoveOzYA movement is one that I truly believe in, and I only read Australian Young Adult Fiction now as a way of supporting Australian YA authors. I’ve been attending Love YA since I became an avid follower and supporter of the #LoveOzYA movement. I jumped at the chance to curate this programme and wanted to take readers into the dark spaces, to different realities and to bring sectors into the Love YA space that we haven’t experienced before. I hope you discover something new, that you’re introduced to things you wouldn’t normally read and that you connect with characters and stories that leave you still thinking about them even after you’ve finished the final page.