Posts Tagged ‘brisbane writers festival


Prize Fighter




Prize Fighter

Brisbane Festival & La Boite

Roundhouse Theatre

September 5 – 26 2015


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


These are the shows we don’t get to see… We don’t get to see these shows on the Australian stage.

Future. D. Fidel


These are the stories that are with us and amongst us.

Todd Macdonald



September sees Brisbane immersed in the most incredible, inspiring and life-affirming stories, with a Brisbane Festival prelude brought to us by Brisbane Writers Festival, which I’ve enjoyed for the last three years, thanks to Cinnamon Watson Publicity (#tweetingit #xsneverstops). One of the highlights of this year’s Brisbane Writers Festival was hearing Somalian refugee, Abdi Aden, speak about his incredible journey from Mogadishu to Kenya and back to Mogadishu before escaping the horrors of his home country and travelling to Australia via Romania and Germany without family, friends, money or any knowledge of the English language. Abdi not only survived, he thrived. You can read his inspiring story in Shining The Story of a Lucky Man. Like Abdi, La Boite’s Artist-in-Residence, Future D. Fidel, has come from the most frightening of circumstances to settle in Australia and succeed in creating a new life in a safe haven.


His story is one of resilience, endurance, ambition and humble gratitude.


When you come into the theater, you have to be willing to say, “We’re all here to undergo a communion, to find out what is going on in this world.” If you’re not willing to say that, what you get is entertainment instead of art, and poor entertainment at that.

― David Mamet Three Uses of the Knife: On the Nature and Purpose of Drama




Prize Fighter is powerful beyond measure, affecting each of us differently and challenging us to consider the stories that are the newest strands of the cultural weave of our community. This is a “mythical” story tense with the knowingness of the past, and the anticipation of what might happen in the future. It’s not a call to action or a cry for sympathy, but more a long, low sigh of personal pain and regret. It’s heavily weighted with themes of ambition, redemption and forgiveness but it’s not all miserable. It’s about recognising our starting and finishing points and doing the best we can in between. It’s about the choices we make and the paths our choices put us on.


On opening night the show starts late, a little later than usual in fact (you can usually count on a 6-8 minute delay getting into the Roundhouse), but bearing in mind we’ve enjoyed drinks and canapés for the last hour in Brisbane Festival’s funky Theatre Republic precinct, everyone is relaxed and chatty on their way in. The beautiful up-cycled space (designed by Sarah Winter) has proven difficult to leave – the vibe is fresh and fun with plenty of food and drink and friends, and live music and inspiring conversations. There are other shows opening nearby tonight too because BRISBANE FESTIVAL.




The action has already started as we file in to take our seats, and for fifteen minutes we sit in awe of the intense focus and physical activity at our feet. It’s actually mesmerising. In the front row of the Roundhouse, ringside, we see the first drops of sweat start to catch the light on well-toned black backs as the company warms up with an informal circuit session supervised by trainers from Brisbane Boxing. These guys have been an integral part of the rehearsal process but when they suddenly disappear we know the show is about to start.


A talented young boxer, Isa, is preparing for the biggest fight of his career. On the line is the national title and the promise of fame and riches beyond his wildest dreams. What unfolds is a modern-day fable of a Congolese boy orphaned by war and forced to become a child soldier by the very people who killed his family. His powerful left hook offers a new life in Australia, but his greatest obstacle is not his opponent – it’s his past.




Prize Fighter is loud and bold, with video projected onto a seamless in–the-round canvas surrounding the raised boxing ring (design by Bill Haycock & video design by optikal bloc. Sound design & original compositions by Felix Cross and lighting design by David Walters). We strain to see the images from where we are but they must be at eye level for the upper rows of the Roundhouse. From the very top rows the experience might be akin to watching ancient gladiatorial combat, the original popular art/entertainment. Movement & Fight Director, Nigel Poulton, has had his work cut out for him on this production and he doesn’t disappoint. Even without being a fan of boxing the fight sequences are exhilarating.


The final match features a live HD camera feed, as well as a logo and a hashtag. Throughout the show bright white light exposes the desire to win and the dedication to training, and a much darker state employing a red wash takes us back to Africa, when our prize fighter is just ten years old, learning to kill or be killed.




The development of the text has enjoyed support from Dramaturg, Chris Kohn, as well as other stakeholders including Michael Futcher. The structure of the work allows us to gain insight into both time frames, with the fights stopping to allow flashbacks utilising the same versatile actors in multiple roles. The technical precision from the box allowing this magic to happen is impressive and without it (and Stage Manager, Heather O’Keefe) I doubt the show, in terms of its storytelling, would work as well.


But the joy and pathos of this production is ultimately in its beautifully gauged performances (the acting is strong – it’s real, raw and honest), tenderly crafted by Director, Todd Macdonald. We know Pacharo Mzembe from The Mountaintop (also directed by Macdonald), and it’s a pleasure to see him in this role, literally flexing his muscles to play a prize fighter who doesn’t necessarily feel the need to be a champion, unlike his coach, Luke. Margi Brown Ash glows with motherly/trainerly pride (there’s nothing typically male about her apart from the name), and she grimaces for only half a moment, before compassion takes over, when overwhelming fear, guilt and the grisly past gets in between her own ambition and Isa’s success in the ring.


The tough love is real and the moments of understanding between them, the nuances of the relationship, are a joy to witness.




The ensemble is a good lesson in casting with Gideon Mzembe (yes, the just-as-gorgeous and super talented brother of Pacharo), Thuso Lekwape (a standout with that rare star quality; there is such intensity and brilliant energy in his performance), and the beautiful, soulful Sophia Emberson-Bain (she sings superbly too and presents on a silver platter some of the sweetest and cheekiest comical moments of the show). They contribute enormously to the storytelling, switching between roles at a rate of knots and taking care to show us sufficient contrast between characters. Kenneth Ransom shines as an old “Aunty” particularly, offering a perfectly timed and nicely shaped momentary breath of comedy where it’s needed to break up tragic events. There are times when the actors’ words are not as clear as they should be, but the voices are so beautiful I have to forgive them their accents (talk about authentic), and stick to absorbing the story, its melody, and the impact of what, by the end of it, is left unsaid.




In Prize Fighter, we experience one man’s personal struggles and the horror of a war affecting so many, but one which we continue to hear little about. It’s a terribly tragic and shocking story, to which most of us can’t possibly relate, but that’s why it’s vital. Prize Fighter is full of heart. It’s a story that can be appreciated for its authenticity and contemporary relevance. It might even help us to welcome other prize fighters into our communities rather than shrug our shoulders and be content to do nothing at all when they have nowhere else to go. We’re not yet so desensitised that we can walk away and forget about this one. And that makes it not just interesting festival programming or great entertainment, but life-affecting art.


…in a very real way this story is now our own.

David Berthold





And there are plays – and books and songs and poems and dances – that are perhaps upsetting or intricate or unusual, that leave you unsure, but which you think about perhaps the next day, and perhaps for a week, and perhaps for the rest of your life.


Because they aren’t clean, they aren’t neat, but there’s something in them that comes from the heart, and, so, goes to the heart.


― David Mamet Three Uses of the Knife: On the Nature and Purpose of Drama





Production pics by Dylan Evans Photography


Brisbane Writers Festival – Minds Wide Open




We’re challenged this year to keep our minds wide open at Brisbane Writers Festival! #bwf15


Bright, curious minds will be connected for a city wide conversation. Festival Director/CEO Julie Berveridge said, “BWF continues its proud history of connecting writers, artists, thinkers and innovators this year.


“BWF will create a vibrant forum, along with the time and space to deep-dive for ideas.”




The Brisbane Writers Festival has held the place of Queensland’s premier literary event for over a decade. It brings the world of writing and ideas to Brisbane, and showcases the best of local, national and international writing to Brisbane, and to the world. For five days in September each year the festival takes over the spectacularly re-developed State Library of Queensland (next to the iconic Gallery of Modern Art and Queensland Art Gallery) in the South Bank cultural precinct alongside the Brisbane River. Book for all ticketed events here. Don’t forget the many FREE events. There is truly something for everyone at this year’s Brisbane Writers Festival.



Possum Magic cupcakes by Megan Daly



Alphabet Zoo is back! BWF’s program for young children and families is back!


Explore Mem Fox’s world of Possum Magic in the arts and crafts play-scape!



10.00AM – 4.00PM




Are you a Young Adult fiction fan? Dress the part! Get Lily Collins’ Shadowhunter style.


Celebrating all things YA, Love YA! brings together fans, readers and writers of YA fiction to talk about love, community and Shadowhunters. From how to be happy to how to get published, Love YA! has you covered. Cosplay encouraged!


12.00 – 7.00PM




Tuesday September 2 (9:45am – 10:30am)

& Sunday September 6 (1pm – 2pm)

David Burton’s funny, sad and serious memoir of his journey through adolescence, How To Be Happy, tackles the big teen topics and shows young people that even if they feel different or awkward during high school, everyone can find their true self, follow their dreams and be happy!



Check out where we’ll be during the festival via Twitter and Instagram – follow @BrisWritersFest & @xsentertainment #bwf15




Thursday September 3 – Opening Address

Jon Ronson is a curious man. Here he investigates festivals, and their audiences. What it means to engage and the dizzying highs and sobering lows of entering a conversation with your mind wide open.

Author of The Psychopath Test, Men Who Stare At Goats, and most recently So, You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Jon opens this year’s festival with his trademark investigative satire, taking a can opener to the brain, he tilts the lid in a bit to disguard and strain its juice.






Friday September 4 (3:30pm – 4:30pm)

Imagine waiting for your parents to pass away in order to investigate a suspicion that the man who raised you wasn’t your biological father. Ramona Koval did just that. She talks with Fiona Stager about her quest to find the truth about her parentage and what she discovered about herself in the process.






Friday September 4 (5pm – 6pm)

It’s a tough time to be a woman on the internet. Over the past two generations, the political map of human relations has been redrawn by feminism and by changes in technology. In this brave new world, old-style sexism is making itself felt in new and frightening ways. In Cybersexism, Laurie Penny goes to the dark heart of the matter and asks why threats of rape and violence are being used to try to silence female voices, analyses the structure of online misogyny, and makes a case for real freedom of speech – for everyone.





Friday September 4 (6:30pm – 7:30pm)

Ever made a joke on Twitter that came out wrong and as a consequence been torn apart by a crazed mob? Or been part of a crazed mob tearing someone apart for telling a joke on Twitter? Jon Ronsonhas spent the past three years with people who have, and now he’s ready to tell the tale. Hilarious and powerful, this is an illustrated one-man show about the renaissance of public shaming, and our very scary part in it. Following Jon’s wildly successful book The Psychopath Test, this time around we are the crazy people.





Saturday September 5 (10am – 12pm)

Barbara Arrowsmith Young defied all odds and changed her brain. Abdi Aden arrived in Australia with no family, no money, no education and overcame. Li Cunxin believes that if we strive, we will succeed. Be inspired by three very different stories that show us if we want change our lives, the power is within us.






Saturday September 5 (11:30am – 12:30am)

From Jane Eyre and Hester Prynn to Hermione Granger and Katniss Everdeen, literature has known some fine leading ladies. Who are the greatest heroines of all time, and how do their contemporaries stack up today?

Sarah Waters, Jane Caro, Kate Grenville and Sophie Hannah debate the women we’ve grown to love, laud, obsess over and idolise, and how characters and writers can help us be the heroines of our own lives.






Saturday September 5 (1pm – 2pm)

What makes sex in fiction so sexy? What is the difference between romance and erotica, erotica and porn? Anne Buist, Krissy Kneen and Susan Johnson explore experiences of human connection and discuss representations of relationships and sex in literature.







Saturday September 5 (2pm – 3:30pm)

Naomi Alderman created Zombie Run, an app for people who struggle to engage with exercise, Jessica Rowe has endured a career in the spotlight and Andy Jackson was born with Marfan’s Syndrome. What do these three have in common? They all love their body.






Sunday September 6 (11:30am – 12:30pm)

Journalist, celebrity, television presenter, author, ambassador for beyondblue, Member of the Order of Australia, passionate mother and wife, Jessica Rowe is an extraordinary woman. Jessica Rowe discuss her memoir Is this My Beautiful Life?, love, motherhood, career, and the idea of ‘having it all’.






Sunday September 6 (1pm – 2pm)

With over 25 years experience in perinatal psychiatry, Anne Buist works with Australia’s legal services in real-life cases of abuse, kidnapping, infanticide and murder. Join Anne in conversation about mothers who kill and her new psychological thriller, Medea’s Curse.








Sunday September 6 (4pm – 5pm)

Some of the greatest stories ever told are from so far back we no longer know if they are fact, fiction, or something far more mysterious. Join authors Sjón, Holly Black, and Kelly Link, who bend genres and borrow from myth, as they talk with Angela Slatter about the tales that continue to enchant and haunt us.








Sunday September 6 (5:30pm – 6:30pm)

The Chaser’s Chris Taylor and Andrew Hansen present an unsparing send-up of every earnest “In Conversation” you’ve ever had to sit through. The inept moderator, temperamental microphones, and inane audience questions… all this and more will greet the famously prickly genius Lionel Corn as he takes the stage to discuss his life’s work.



See you at Brisbane Writers Festival!





I Want To Know What Love Is





I Want to Know What Love Is

QTC & The Good Room

Bille Brown Studio

September 4 – 19 2014


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 




“Perhaps we are in this world to search for love, find it and lose it, again and again. With each love, we are born anew, and with each love that ends we collect a new wound. I am covered with proud scars.”

Isobelle Allende


We are a combination of a thousand different experiences (especially when it comes to love).

Deviser/Director, Daniel Evans



Everyone is here. Wesley is playing the role of Glassy and the foyer fills quickly around him with the chatter and laughter of friends, and the clink of glasses and the clatter of heels. I contribute to the clinking and clattering and chattering. I feel like I haven’t seen everyone for such a long time! This is the tribe I know and love! We’ve strolled across the road from Brisbane Writers Festival, where I’ve been hanging with a different tribe and hearing about how challenging it is to get published and get noticed, how courageous one must be to write, and how disciplined. I Want to Know What Love Is is a cleverly devised show, using the written submissions of the general public… YOU. You are the writers! But by giving this glorious little show such a short season within the Brisbane Festival program (it runs for this week only), I feel like QTC is challenging us to demand its return.


Dear QTC,



We all adored I Want to Know What Love Is.






Cheers. x


So it’s a proper Opening Night, with all the bells and whistles (and all the red roses and pink champagne in the world), and all the Industry friends. It feels GOOD. It feels good like it must be the work of THE GOOD ROOM. We know we can trust this collective of creative heads and hearts to entertain us, to challenge us, and to make us leave wanting more. There’s no deprivation about it, in fact our hearts are full…we want more of THAT.


I knew this show would be gorgeous (I was told it would be gorgeous) but I wasn’t prepared for so much of the gorgeousness to be done and dusted before the half way mark. The pure joy of an early succession of exuberant scenes concludes with what I can only presume, is the end of the honeymoon period of the show. We’re left hanging in darkness, in some undefined sad sort of state. I guess it feels like loss. The shock of love gone. Yeah, you know it. The honeymoon period is over, man.


I spoke with Carol Burns after the show about the dramatic mood change; it’s a distinct beat, unmistakably sad; you can’t miss it. I assured Carol that it could be felt! Indeed, it’s a rare thing in the theatre, to feel so strongly, a collective response to a single beat. I joke that I recognise that beat, the turning point in a relationship after the cascades of rose petals have finished raining down and the kisses have stopped meeting you at the door and the fights start about who’ll take out the rubbish. After the extreme highs come the devastating lows. Or, day after day, the plain ordinary. Or, the break up.


It’s a tumultuous journey and no one apologises for the rough bits. We spend just as long as we need to, wallowing, relating, remembering, and commiserating… There are uncomfortable titters from time to time because REALNESS. RECONISABLE. RELATABLE. REALNESS. It’s not all bad; so much of the show is very funny and very moving. I Want to Know What Love Is tastes like a fistful of sticky, sugary, virtual cotton candy goodness, with a bit of harsh reality thrown in.


The stories come from the community. Over eight hundred randoms submitted their stories online via the specially built website




It’s the sort of verbatim theatre I love – not too verbatim – the words are painted in full colour, with layers upon layers of meaning between them and the canvas, the picture almost certainly improving on the telling of the tales. No offence, to you, the writers. Sometimes, the simpler the story, the greater the effect, as when there are no words and we are left to fill in the gaps; an awesome little device. The stories we hear range from love at first sight, I’ll love you forever, happily ever after tales to devastating blame games, plots for revenge and guilt-ridden admissions. Wow, we actually begin to feel like we know these people. We think perhaps we are these people. Not so random after all.


New work needs time and it needs space and it needs trust.

Amy Ingram


We know Amy Ingram’s comedy is excellent, and this production allows her a little tragedy too. It’s clearer, and sadder than ever before. Carol Burns, Caroline Dunphy and eighteen year old Tom Cossattini in his QTC debut, also manage to get the tone exactly right, seemingly effortlessly, taking us on a rollercoaster ride that starts out naively and joyously and finishes with sass and stubborn, glassy-eyed glimmering hope, in spite of the tumult and ugliness along the way. In this way, the show’s structure cruelly and accurately reflects the usual pattern of relationships. We still haven’t come to terms with the life-death-life cycle, have we?


Daniel Evans, not only a published writer and Premier’s Drama Award winning playwright (his work, Oedipus Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, will be staged by QTC in 2015), is the sort of director who creates work you wish other directors would see. If they did so, perhaps we wouldn’t have to suffer through so much earnest work. Just saying.

What Dan does, with co-devisor, Lauren Clelland on board this time, is take a story, offer it to his actors, and with their help, he passes the story on to us. Dan’s a custodian of stories.




Kieran Swann’s design is nothing less than stunning. He’s humble, paying homage to Feliz Gonzalez-Torres, Tracey Emin and Jenny Holzer in his notes, but what Swann does, just as Evans does, is create worlds that we can’t wait to step into. The simple images of flowers and garbage bags may have come from the punters but it’s Swann who’s conjured the delicate-bold lush effect they make on stage. Lights by Jason Glenwright and soundtrack by Lawrence English support the pace of the production and punctuate the stories, offering us time to breathe and no time at all. A bit like life.


What’s incredible about this production is that a very basic idea has been executed in the most effective way when it could easily have ended up a disaster; a shoddy, tacky, nauseating and seriously awkward and embarrassing high school collage drama. It is none of these things.


I Want To Know What Love Is is elegant, sophisticated, heartfelt, inspiring and uplifting; it’s delicious festival fodder. It’s original, beautiful and unfortunately, it will disappear after this week…or will it?

Go now, just in case. You don’t want to miss this. It’s gorgeous theatre.





Cabaret at Brisbane Writers Festival?! Yes indeed!


It’s a literary vaudeville show featuring Dave Eggers




A witty and dazzling literary cabaret featuring a sizzling international line-up of performers, including bestselling author Dave Eggers.



Packed with authors, poets, musicians and performers from the Brisbane Writers Festival program, the Literary Vaudeville Show is a fertile monument to the seductive nature of language.



The Literary Vaudeville Show will be awesome! And you know how much we love Brisbane Powerhouse! Be quick! BOOK ONLINE



Join us for a special evening with some of the world’s best literary raconteurs including Dave Eggers, Warsan Shire, Willy Vlautin, Hinemoana Baker, Simon Armitage, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Samuel Wagan Watson and a pop-up McSweeney’s bookstore. No applause, just throw money!


Dave Eggers is the author of ten books, including most recently Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?, The Circle and A Hologram for the King, which was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award. He is the founder of McSweeney’s, an independent publishing company based in San Francisco that produces books, a quarterly journal of new writing (McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern), and a monthly magazine, The Believer. McSweeney’s also publishes Voice of Witness, a nonprofit book series that uses oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. Eggers is the co-founder of 826 National, a network of eight tutoring centers around the country and ScholarMatch, a nonprofit organization designed to connect students with resources, schools and donors to make college possible. He lives in Northern California with his family.


“Many writers, having written a first best-seller, might see it as a nice way to start a career. He started a movement instead.” — Time


If you haven’t taken the time since 2008 to listen to Dave’s TED prize wish (I know, I’ve been busy too), Once Upon A School, stop for 25 minutes now and watch this. No, really. Stop whatever it is you’re doing right now. Watch it.



I’ve just finished listening to Dion Graham read Dave Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and I’m exhausted! This was truly an exhausting listen, over several weeks, in short spurts in between everything else happening in life. I love the lengthy sentences, the attention to some intricate detail, the disregard for some other detail, the lively dialogue, definitive statements about life, death and parenting, and the story itself, a memoir that topped national best-seller lists and has since become a staple for summer reading and book clubs. A compelling voice for Generation X, Eggers hererecounts his early 20s, caring for his younger brother after their parents’ unexpected deaths and his endeavors in a variety of media. I now feel like reading it for myself – there’s something about devouring words on a page rather than multi-tasking, taking in only so much, as you’re listening to an Audible book – but still, I need time to recover so I’m listening to Juliet Stevenson read Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things. Needless to say, this is a welcome change of mood!


Now I’m curious. How do you keep up with your books? Do you like Audible, digital or the real thing with its pages?



I love this. In the lead up to Melbourne Writers FestivalDave Eggers told The Age,


“There are a lot of choices out there, a lot of ways to read, and if we in the print business want to survive, we have to make print an entirely different experience from reading digitally. So at McSweeney’s, after we spend a year or so working on a book, making the text as perfect as we can, then we try to invest in the craft of the book, the feel and heft and beauty of the object itself,” he says. “I really think people like beautiful things, and there’s nothing more beautiful than a well-written book printed and bound and covered with care.”


Image by Annie Tritt


Sadly, I’ll miss the Opening Address on Thursday September 4 (seriously, I’m sorry; I’m triple-booked, but I’ll be at #BWF14 from Friday – Sunday so make sure you’re following XS Entertainment as well as Brisbane Writers Festival on Twitter and Instagram). If you can get there on Thursday to hear Dave Eggers speak, or join us on Friday at the Literary Vaudeville Show you must!


Book for Dave Eggers at Brisbane Writers Festival


Opening Address Thursday September 4


Literary Vaudeville Show Friday September 5




Brisbane Writers Festival has begun! #BWF13




Brisbane Writers Festival 2013 (#BWF13) began with a number of exciting events across Brisbane city at the start of the week (including some especially amazing sessions for the kids), and last night we enjoyed a lovely launch event, the highlight of which was Steve Kilbey (The Church) performing Under the Milky Way.


Following the formalities we were treated to the warmth, humour and deep insight of acclaimed action thriller writer, Matthew Reilly.

You can scroll through the tweets from the event (and the entire weekend!) here. I’ll be live tweeting again from 12:45pm today when I’ll attend the Crazy Rich Asians session, with Benjamin Law, Kevin Kwan and Oliver Phommavanh.


Follow @BrisWritersFest & @xsentertainment on Twitter to keep up with what’s going on.



And the other literary news: The Queensland Literary Award Winners have been announced! The winners – Queensland writers among them – were presented hand-crafted trophies and $5000 cheques earlier this week.


Queensland Literary Awards Chair Dr Stuart Glover said, “We are proud, for a second year, to present the prizes on behalf of the people of Queensland to our 11 worthy winners, drawn from a field of 48 writers and more than 550 original entries.


“We aim to acknowledge the achievement of Australian and Queensland writers and the importance of books and reading to the community.”


QLA was established last year after the demise of the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards. The new awards are funded through $160,000 raised directly from the community, business, and from major cultural and educational institutions.


Dr Glover said, “We are delighted that community support for writers and the awards has lived on into a second year – evidenced by the $20,000 raised through our Pozible campaign in just 4 weeks.


“The awards have established a unique place in the Australian cultural landscape. This very large suite of awards is run by a mix of volunteers and part-time staff with help from every sector of society. It is hard work, and the writers love that the community has come together to support what they do.


“This year our 30 volunteer judges were particularly impressed with the diversity of the titles. Last year’s fiction prize went to a deserved old hand, Frank Moorhouse and this year it is exciting to have a Queensland female winning writer Melissa Lucashenko, for Mullumbimby, a novel that explores conflict and difference within the indigenous community. The focus of Australian writing and writers is part mercurial but also partly reflective of wider social trends.


“The financial returns for being a writer–$12,000 a year on average is very low—but the quality of Australian and local writing is very high. We are delighted to do what we can to support a handful of writers, and raise the profile of important new works and writers”


Queensland Literary Award Winners 2013


Deloitte Fiction Book Award: Mullumbimby by Melissa Lucashenko


The Courier-Mail People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton


University of Queensland Non-Fiction Book Award: Boy, Lost by Kristina Olsson


State Library of Queensland Poetry Collection – Judith Wright Calanthe Award: Jam Tree Gully by John Kinsella


University of Southern Queensland History Book Award: The Flash of Recognition: Photography and the Emergence of Indigenous Rights by Jane Lydon


Australian Short Story Collection – Steele Rudd Award: Like a House on Fire by Cate Kennedy


Griffith University Young Adult Book Award: A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty


Children’s Book Award: Don’t Let a Spoonbill in the Kitchen! by Narelle Oliver


Gadens Feature Film Script Award: “Healing” by Craig Monahan & Alison Nisselle


Emerging Queensland Author Manuscript Award: “Gap” by Rebecca Jessen


Unpublished Indigenous Writer – David Unaipon Award “Heat and Light” by Ellen van Neerven


Check out the Brisbane Writers Festival program here.





Brisbane Writers Festival – Program Launch


Brisbane Writers Festival

Program Launch

Friday 26th July 2013


State Library of Queensland



Every side of the story






Last Friday night, before seeing Venus In Fur (again! it was awesome! again!), Sam and I popped into the State Library for the launch of the 2013 Brisbane Writers Festival program. In an exhibition and event space that I never knew existed, upstairs on Level 2 of the Queensland State Library, we were handed a glass of mulled wine poured-directly-from-the bottle wine (oops, busted!) and ushered through to an interior room via a piano-painted table, where we ran into Cinnamon Watson and David Burton, publicist and writer respectively. How appropriate that we should see these two right away, and what an amazing job the team has done again this year, under the direction of Kate Eltham. Here is a really interesting project Kate mentioned, which we’ll find out more about at the festival.


The program features many favourite authors, and top master classes with a few of them, which I would love to attend, however; I’ll be live-tweeting a heap of other events over the course of the festival, which runs from Thursday September 6th to Sunday September 8th (there are also some sneaky early events happening all over town, which you can check out in the program). And of course, the Festival Club under the big red tent (is it a big red tent again this year?) is the place to hang out in between sessions if you’re serious about attending the festival so I have no doubt I’ll be seeing you there!




During daylight hours, The Kids Program is pretty awesome too so if you have younger readers and writers in your household, make sure you get them to something, anything, it’s all good, starting with Rebecca Sparrow’s session FIND YOUR TRIBE on Wednesday 4 September (Grades 8 – 12) and finishing on Friday 6 September with sessions with Matthew Reilly, Marlina Marchetta, Gus Gordon, Garth Nix and more. How excitement! Seriously, if I could just hang with the kids at these sessions I would!




Follow xsentertainment on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and BrisWritersFest on Twitter and Facebook to find out who we’re hanging with, and which sessions we get to. Make sure you say hello if you’re there. It’s always great to see you IRL!


Chicks In Charge at Reality Bites Festival 2013







From Thursday 25th – Sunday 28th July, at various venues in Cooroy, the Reality Bites Festival fills four glorious Sunshine Coast days with books, writers, readers, ideas, inspiration, friends, music and comedy.


I was going to just move into someone’s – anyone’s – place in Cooroy and commit to this entire festival! It will be amazing, but unfortunately I’ll be lucky to get to one or two sessions.


In my current state of identity crisis (how many resumes highlighting various skill sets do you have saved on your desktop? Just wondering…), I’m looking forward to attending more theatre again this weekend and less (meaning not as much as I would like) writerly events. OH! But I’m excited to be attending the launch of Brisbane Writers Festival on Friday night before seeing Venus in Fur (again! It’s Date Night!).







Also, you would know if you’re keeping up with us on Twitter and Instagram, that I now have a no-dig organic vege garden out the back, a plant nursery on and around the barbecue by the kitchen, and a chook house with three lovely girls in the back corner of the block to keep up with!

Whose crazy idea was it to start living more sustainably? HUH?!

Also, my twenty-year school reunion is coming up in August and


Anyway, if you can get to anything at the Reality Bites Festival DO IT! And let me know your thoughts. It WILL be amazing!

In 2012 when former Prime Minister Julia Gillard said societies only reach their full potential when women participate politically, shock-jock Alan Jones responded by saying: ‘Women are destroying the joint.’ His comment prompted not only a tide of outrage but a social media movement that now has over 20,000 supporters on its Facebook page.

After becoming a rallying point for activism against sexism and misogyny in the media, DTJ – as it’s known – became the inspiration for a book edited by author and social commentator Jane Caro. Destroying the Joint: Why Women have to Change the World is a thought-provoking collection of essays, analysis, memoir, fiction, satire and polemic by some Australia’s best and brightest female writers in response to Jones’s comment and the broader issue of sexism and misogyny in our culture.

Contributors Catherine Deveny and Krissy Kneen, as well as fellow ‘destroyer’ and reknowned feminist Anne Summers will discuss why women need to change the world (Saturday July 27, 12:30 – 1:30pm).

Anne Summers, author of the seminal God’s Whores and Damned Police , will also talk about her new book The Misogyny Factor and why Australia – the land of the fair go – still hasn’t figured out how to make men and women equal. Joining her on the panel ‘Little Tales of Misogyny’ (Sunday July 27, 10:00 – 11:00am) will be Overland editor and social commentator, Jeff Sparrow, and social worker and author of the memoir Crime Wife, Tanya Levin. Then of course is the wrecking ball herself, Catherine Deveny, knocking over sacred cows left right and centre. She will be doing a stand up show at the Majestic Theatre in Pomona on Friday night, 26 July.


But it’s not all about tearing down the status quo – it’s also about the healing that we can do with words. Alesa Lajana, music educator and singer songwriter who appears on the same bill will be doing her best to repair the racial rift in Australian society by telling our shared history in song.


Mary Lou Stevens’ memoir is about healing the self by going deep into the terror places in her Sex, Drugs and Meditation, and Kristy Chambers talks about her (Un)Brilliant career as a nurse at ‘Who Cares’, an Afternoon Tea talk at Tea-Licious.

That reminds me, my signed copy of Sex, Drugs and Meditation is still with the girls at Sinerji! I should pop in and pick it up since they’re having a sale so near now that we’ve moved, and it would be no problem just to race in and out to pick up my book.

You can buy your own copy by following the links here.


Front-cover-195x300 (1)

Kristina Olsson talks about the invisibility of women in their own stories in her new memoir Boy, Lost, in which she describes the silence and secrets of her mother (her child was taken from her by his father). Hers is an act of familial healing.

Eve Stewart, the heroine of Judy Powell’s soon to be released biography Love’s Obsession, personifies persistence and attention to detail. Eve was the wife of firebrand archaeologist Jim Stewart who began the first school of Archaeology in Australia. Eve, herself a trained archaeologist, spent most of her life cataloguing their work, determined to see it into print and cement his place in history.

Sessions sell out quickly so organisers are urging festival patrons to get in early. Single session tickets are only available a the door – best to make sure of your place with a weekend pass.


Check out the program and book online or in person at Annie’s Books, Peregian.