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Sam van Zweden

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melbourne writers festival

Exciting News!

Often in this writing caper I’ve been overwhelmed by just how generous more experienced writers are. I was first introduced to this incredible generosity through Lisa Dempster, in her role at the Emerging Writers’ Festival. Lisa’s been kind enough to extend countless opportunities my way, and she’s always had a lot of faith in my capabilities – often more faith than I have in myself.

Just now (I’m a bit slow on the up-take, moving house means 2 weeks internet-less!) I’ve seen the amazing news on Bookseller and Publisher, that Lisa has nabbed the spot of Festival Director for the Melbourne Writers Festival! Even better, it’s a 3-year position. This is the same amount of time as Lisa reigned over the Emerging Writers’ Festival, and in that role she really went from strength to strength, building on what was already in the festival as well as introducing a lot of new, exciting ideas about what a festival can be and do. Lisa will take over from the current MWF director Steve Grimwade.

So congratulations, Lisa. I can’t think of anyone who deserves this position more, and really look forward to seeing you shine in this role.

EVENTS! My goodness, EVENTS!

There’s just SO much coming up – my credit card’s getting a decent workout. As is the bit of my brain that controls excitement. I’d almost go as far as saying I’m perpetually excited by all the tickets I’ve got and things that are coming up.

Broadly speaking – two festivals. Melbourne Writers Festival and Overload Poetry Festival. MWF starts tomorrow, and Overload runs from the 9-17th of September.

Excited about the following:

– Tomorrow night’s keynote speech and opening of Melbourne Writers Festival by Jonathan Franzen, and general opening frivolities and Melbourne Town Hall.

Liner Notes, 3rd September – always a thoroughly entertaining night where spoken word artists “cover” (write on the theme of) a particular album. I’m not a huge INXS fan, but I am a fan of the people involved in the event – Emilie Zoey Baker, Omar Musa, Catherine Deveny, Ben Pobjie… The list goes on. And The Toff in Town is a great venue for these kind of writing events, so it promises to be a great night.

–  Melbourne Poetry Map launch – 15th September, at Loop Bar. Last year’s event was really fun, they had a huge range of poets on places that were familiar, and some that weren’t so familiar. This year ten new poets have been commissioned to do ten new poems about ten new places around our fair city – poets include Luka Lesson, Amy Bodossian, Joel McKerrow, Geoff Lemon, and other boys and girls who kick poetry’s butt on a regular basis.

– This is the big one. Shane Koyczan. If you know the fellow and hadn’t yet heard, I apologize if I just made you wet yourself. He’s doing a few gigs in Melbourne – one is some sort of science and rationalism conference at Jeff’s Shed on the 18th, tickets are about $300 and his set is only half an hour. I’m sticking with the two other gigs he’s doing, with Overload. He’ll be at the Tell It Like It Is slam on Friday 16th September, and also at the Overload closing night at the Fitzroy Town Hall on the 17th. Tickets for the closing night are available online, so get onto it, you don’t want to miss this man – the closing event also has a huge lineup of our own Melbourne poets.

If you don’t know Shane Koyczan, try this on for size. Sorry about the uncontrollable crying you’re about to do. Let’s remedy that with some uncontrollable laughing from this one. And just for good measure, this one is one of my favourites. If you watch these and feel as strongly as I do about the man’s brilliance, I’ll catch you at the gigs on the 16th and 17th. (We can talk about how we *completely* dig Degrassi!)

Poetry Just 4 U

Officially dubbing this past week “success-a-palooza”.

Today marks the start of the Melbourne Writers Festival, which runs until the 5th of September.

I’m excited to have gotten tickets for Dog’s Tales, a night run by Chris Flynn which is usually on at the Dogs Bar in St Kilda, but for the MWF will spend a night at the Toff in Town. My dazzling non-fiction teacher Kalinda Ashton will be performing, as well as one of my favourite authors Josephine Rowe, and the woman who introduced to me the idea that short stories can be truly magical, Carmel Bird. Should be an incredible night!

Apart from this, I have some exciting MWF-related news: some of my micropoetry has been accepted for the RMIT Poetry 4 U program, which can be followed on Twitter throughout the festival, as well as selected pieces running across the LED screens at Federation Square between 12pm and 2pm daily throughout the festival. I’ve seen some of the entries from last year, and there was some great work, so follow the project or head down to Fed Square one day to check it out!

The general public are also invited to participate via Twitter, just add the #poetry4u hashtag to any nanofiction or micropoetry you might want to put out there.

Have a great festival!

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