Top picks for Newcastle Writers Festival happening this weekend, by Brooke Tunbridge / by Brooke Tunbridge

Newcastle Writers Festival is on this weekend! The event celebrates “words, ideas and the joy of reading”. It’s an annual event held in the Civic Precinct, offering a range of free and ticketed event sessions throughout its three day program. The event is in its fifth year, director Rosemarie Milsom saying “it’s hard to believe [her] little dream of organising the city’s first writers festival has grown into an annual event featuring 140 writers and thinkers from throughout Australia”.

Milsom explained that if there is a theme for this year’s event, it would be the power of story- in all forms. With speakers such as Deng Adut (2017 NSW Australian of the Year), Clementine Ford (author of Fight Like a Girl), Peter Doherty (shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Medicine), Tara Moss (journalist, public speaker, advocate for children’s and women’s rights), and many more, the program allows Novocastrians to attend, hear from and interact with a diverse group of influential and interesting people, across a broad range of topics. The festival is not just for writers, from discussions on politics, history, and current events to sessions on battling with mental health, to music sessions and poetry readings, there is an event to suit everyone’s interests.

After picking apart this year’s program, I’ve combined a list of sessions not to miss (although urge you to read the program yourself as I’m certain you will find something that peaks your interest- this list is only a tiny portion of the events happening over the weekend).

Break Through: Lunch with Marina Go
From editing Dolly magazine at 23 to leading the Wests Tigers board, Marina will offer insight into effective leadership and her climb to the top. She will also discuss her book Break Through. Hosted by NBN news presenter Natasha Beyersdorf.

When: Friday 7th April 12:30pm-2:00pm
Where: Harbourview Function Centre
Tickets: $55 includes two-course meal, book at EventBrite.


Every Sentence Counts
The art of the short story. With Peter Goldsworthy, Isabelle Li and Maria Takolander.
Host / Michael Sala

When: Saturday 8th April 10:00am-11:00am
Where: Cummings Room, City Hall
Tickets: Free session


On Location
Newcastle as a setting. With Wendy James, Andy Muir and Michael Sala.
Host / Keri Glastonbury

When: Saturday 8th April 11:30am-12:30pm
Where: Cummings Room, City Hall
Tickets: Free session


Trumped: Is this the end of satire?
With Charles Firth, Ryan O’Neill and Jonathan Biggins.
Host / Linda Jaivan

When: Saturday 8th April 11:30am-12:30pm
Where: Concert Hall, City Hall
Tickets: $22 from Ticketek


First, We Make the Beast Beautiful
Sarah Wilson reframes anxiety.
Host / Ailsa Piper

When: Saturday 8th April 1:15pm-2:15pm
Where: Civic Theatre
Tickets: $22 from Ticketek


Fight Like a Girl
Clementine Ford in conversation with Ruby Hamad.

When: Sunday 9th April 10:00am-11:00am
Where: Concert Hall, City Hall
Tickets: $22 from Ticketek

Songs of a War Boy
Deng Adut in conversation with Felicity Biggins.

When: Sunday 9th April 3:00pm-4:00pm
Where: Civic Theatre
Tickets: $22 from Ticketek


Rock This City
Live music in Newcastle from the 1970s to 80s. Gaye Sheather in conversation with Phillip McIntyre.

When: Sunday 9th April 2:45pm-3:45pm
Where: Newcastle Museum
Tickets: free session


Poets Breakfast
Enjoy live performances over a coffee.
Host / Ron Brown

When: Sunday 9th April 8:00am-10:00am
Where: Civic Digest Café
Tickets: free event

Bookings aren’t required for free sessions, it’s a 'first in best dressed' system.

For more information, and to view the full program, head to Newcastle Writers Festival website.