The program for this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival has a distinct musical edge, as it sets out to pay homage to that intersection between songwriting and literature. For its 2018 edition, with Marieke Hardy making her debut as artistic director, the festival celebrates the theme ‘A Matter of Life and Death’, pulling together a swag of iconic Aussie musicians to share their take on their art.
In news to thrill music fiends and wordsmiths alike, Jimmy Barnes trips back in time for ‘Musical Memory’, getting nostalgic with a collection of seven-inch records, while rock legend Paul Kelly sets poetry to music in his event, ‘Other People’s Words’. You’ll catch Steve Kilbey, frontman of The Church, as he performs hits from across his impressive 43-year career, US singer-songwriter Neko Case in a discussion titled ‘The Book That Made Me a Feminist’, and a chat with our own Sally Seltmann about women who make art. Then, there’s Duets — a series of live performances and discussions curated by SLAM and Bakehouse founder Helen Marcou. Each session matches up an emerging artist with an established one, pairing the likes of Sarah Blasko with indie-folk act Ryan Downey, Jen Cloher with Brisbane rapper Miss Blanks, and Kate Ceberano with young soul artist Kaiit.
Meanwhile, kicking off the fun as part of MWF18’s ‘You Are Here’ gala, you’ll find American artist Andrew W.K throwing down good vibes with a positivity coaching session, child soldier turned rap icon Fablice Manirakiza throwing down some live tunes, and legendary author Andy Griffiths turning his talents to a DJ set. A slew of authors, writers and activists who aren’t musical (well, publicly) will also be talking and holding workshops, including Marwa al-Sabouni a Syrian architect and author, The New Yorker’s television critic Emily Nussbaum, veteran investigative journalist David Neiwart and engineer and author Yassmin Abdel-Magied.