Perth Festival is back, taking over FAC with its 2023 Writers Weekend.

This year’s Perth Festival Literature & Ideas program pays homage to Djinda (Stars).

Bringing together writers, artists, comics, musicians, food critics and even a reality television star or two, Writers Weekend presents panels and interviews about the everlasting power of the stars and our connection to the greatness of the universe.

The theme of Writers Weekend is Steadfast as the Stars, which takes its cue from John Keats most famous poem, Bright Star. At a time when everything is changing and nothing feels certain, we explore the timelessness and consistency of the night sky. Every panel and conversation will explore truth-telling – from big political questions to the truth of our most beloved works of fiction, to the memoirs we hold dear.

Literature & Ideas curator Sisonke Msimang is joined by two guest curators, stars in their own right. Elfie Shiosaki, award-winning poet and author of Homecoming, curates sessions across Writers Weekend and award-winning children’s author and illustrator James Foley adds some mischief to Family Day in Freo.

Make sure you join us for the opening party All the Stars, a night-time takeover of Fremantle Arts Centre accompanied by music, readings and some serious star-gazing.

The full program will be announced on Thu 19 Jan 2023 – stay tuned!

All tickets for Writers Weekend events must be purchased from Perth Festival (on sale Thu 3 Nov 22).

Program highlights

All the Stars: A Party
Fri 24 Feb / 6:30pm

Join us for the Literature & Ideas opening celebration! Taking over FAC, the evening celebrates starts and our connection to the greatness of the universe.

Expect art and celebration with a dash of chaos and surprise.

Family Day in Freo
Sun 26 Feb / 9am / Free entry

Family Day is back, and we’ve had help pulling it all together from special guest host James Foley, author and illustrator of lots of amazing books. We’ve planned an action-packed day of self-expression, listening and lots of talking about books. Bring the whole family and join in the fun!

This year we’re excited to present Jared Thomas, Nukunu man and award-winning co-author of the Game Day series of books written with basketball star Patty Mills. And we’re profiling fun (and scary) stories about the stars and what happens at night when the sun goes down.

Dalmon Galgut (Sth Africa)
Sat 25 Feb / 4pm

Damon Galgut took the 2021 Booker Prize for The Promise, his unflinching novel about a white South African family.  The judges called it, a “master of form … that has an incredible originality and fluidity of voice.”

Join us for a live-streamed conversation about Damon’s body of work, his writing practice and how he conceived of this devastating, prize-winning novel.

Jennifer Down
Sun 26 Feb / 1pm

This year’s Miles Franklin Literary Award winner, Jennifer Down, is one of the youngest authors to ever take home the prize. Her win for Bodies of Light announces a potent new generation of Australian writing.

Bodies of Light traces the struggles of Maggie, a child raised in state care who tenuously pieces together a life.  As she grows into an achingly lonely woman, Jennifer draws a portrait not just of a single life, but of the life of a nation.

This session will explore Jennifer’s creative writing practice and talk about what is next for the author.

Dark Mother
Sat 25 Feb / 10am

In this panel session acclaimed writers Larissa Behrendt, Chloe Hooper and Alice Pung explore the depths of motherhood, examining what it means to write about the complex, often dark and always poignant relationships between mothers and their children.

Reckon It’s a Fair Game?
Sat 25 Feb / 11:30am

This unmissable panel session features three of the country’s most astute political writers talk about the politics of reckoning.

Sean Kelly’s The Game draws a remarkable portrait of Scott Morrison and sounds a warning for the ages, while Amy Remeikis’ searing account of reporting on and living through sexual assault makes On Reckoning a propulsive read. The Idea of Australia confirms Julianne Schultz’ place as a key figure in tracing the nation’s fractured past and making a case for a fairer future.

Another Australia
Sat 25 Feb / 2:30pm

In the unwavering anthology Another Australia 12 boundary-pushing Indigenous writers and writers of colour show us all that is, and could exist, in their versions of Australia.

Join Winnie Dunn, editor and General Manager of Sweatshop, Literacy Movement, and Mohammed Massoud Morsi, author of Palace of Angels, as they discuss writing, creativity and the joys of imagining a different world.

Over It
Sun 26 Feb / 10am

Journalists and writers Antoinette Lattouf, Sarah Malik and Jessie Stephens are forthright women who have forged careers in the fast-paced news business. But what happens when one issue stays with you?

Join us as they discuss what it looks like to tackle an issue everyone’s always telling you to get over – whether its heartbreak, which Jessie Stephens charts in Heartsick; or feminism as Sarah Malik chronicles in Desi Girl; or feminism, which Antoinette writes about with eloquence and humour in How to Lose Friends and Influence White People.

Don Watson
Sat 25 Feb / 1pm

Author and essayist Don Watson’s new book The Passion of Private White traces the inner world of biologist and anthropologist Neville White. White documented the lives of Indigenous clans in northern Australia while grappling with the troubled mind he brought back from the battlefields of Vietnam. Join us for an exploration of trauma, resilience and the capacity for human connection.

Larissa Behrendt
Sun 26 Feb / 2:30pm

From one of Australia’s foremost legal voices, comes a novel of rare tenderness. Larissa Behrendt’s After Story is a beautifully rendered portrait of a mother and daughter whose attempt to mend their bond takes place against the backdrop of the great literary sites of Britain.  It plots the journey of Jasmine – an idealistic young Indigenous woman lawyer who thinks she can help her people by using the law – and her mum Della whose painful memories of love and loss are often just at the surface. Join us in conversation with a remarkable Australian.

Jess Ho
Sat 25 Feb / 2:30pm

Jess Ho is one of the most influential voices in Australia’s bar and restaurant scene. In Raised by Wolves they serve up a no-holds barred take on an industry rife with dysfunction – from greed and ego to sexual harassment, exploitation and the never-ending fetishisation of Asian food culture. Join a hilarious and important new voice on food, culture and Australia.

Hayley Scrivenor
Sat 25 Feb / 4pm

In Hayley Scrivenor’s beautifully written debut novel Dirt Town, the landscape of regional Australia is the setting for a story of friendship and loss. When Esther Bianchi goes missing on her way home from school in rural New South Wales, residents’ illusions of small-town safety are shattered.

Hayley is at the crest of a wave of female-authored Australian crime novelists who are changing the genre and this session is not to be missed.

Holden Sheppard
Sat 25 Feb / 4pm

Hometown favourite Holden Sheppard joins us for a conversation about his latest book, The Brink. The novel delves into the lives of a group of school leavers who find themselves in a frightening situation. As they face down murder, lies and secrets, the teens must confront their inner demons. With his characteristic directness and charm, Holden talks about the core ideas that drive this investigation into masculinity, sexuality and mental health.

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