Our City of Literature
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Beginning Day Two, our Parliament will reconvene to consider possible futures of our literary city. This time, we’re in the upper house with a City of Literature Senate.
Our senators will introduce themselves with readings and short performances. Then, they’ll consider the bills put to them by the House of Representatives, lead a forward-looking discussion and pass verdict on this bookish city’s potential.
Presented in partnership with the Melbourne UNESCO City of Literature Office.
Adolfo Aranjuez is an editor, writer, speaker and dancer. He is currently the Melbourne International Film Festival’s publications and content manager as well as Liminal magazine’s publication editor; previously, he edited the magazines Metro and Archer. Adolfo’s essays, criticism and poetry have appeared in Meanjin, Right Now, Screen Education, The Manila Review, Cordite and elsewhere, and he has worked with numerous organisations including the Melbourne Writers Festival, Midsumma, ABC TV and Arts Access Victoria.
Leah Jing McIntosh is the founding editor of Liminal. Since 2017, Leah has published art, writing and interviews by and for Asian-Australian artists. She has founded national literary prizes for minoritized writers, and co-edited Collisions (Pantera Press), a collection of fiction by First Nations writers and Writers of Colour.
Nevo Zisin (they/them) is a queer, non-binary, Jewish writer, performer, activist and public speaker based in Naarm/Birraranga/Melbourne. They run workshops in schools and professional development training in workplaces around transgender identities. Author of award-winning Finding Nevo (2017), a memoir on gender transition and The Pronoun Lowdown (2021) a useful guidebook on all things related to pronouns.
Hella Ibrahim is an editor with a passion for activism through writing and publishing. She works as a project editor at an education publishing company on weekdays, and is the founder and editorial director of Djed Press, an online publication that provides a paid platform for creators of colour.
Karys McEwen is a school librarian in Melbourne. She is an avid reader of young adult fiction, and is particularly passionate about the role of libraries and literature in the wellbeing of young people. Karys is the President of the Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Victorian Branch and the 2019 columnist for Books+Publishing Junior.
Bridget Caldwell-Bright is a Jingili Mudburra writer and editor based in Melbourne. She works as a freelance editor for Hardie Grant Books as well as commissioning editor for literary journal the Lifted Brow. She was previously co-editor for Archer magazine’s First Nations Edition and managing editor for Blak Brow, a Black Women's Collective edition of the Lifted Brow.
Amy Vuleta has spent most of her bookselling career hosting bookclubs, panels, events and discussions about books, literature, publishing and ideas. She reads widely, is currently training to be a high school teacher, and occasionally writes about art.
Gene Smith is Program Manager at Melbourne Writers Festival, and is a literary programmer, producer, writer and voracious reader.
Prior to Melbourne Writers Festival, he worked at other major Australian cultural organisations including the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Sydney Opera House and Sydney Writers’ Festival. He is a current participant in Midsumma Festival’s Midsumma Futures mentorship programme for emerging queer artists and culture-makers.
Alistair Baldwin is a writer and comedian based in Naarm / Melbourne. He has written for ABC's The Weekly, Get Krack!n, Hard Quiz & At Home Alone Together. Published works include pieces for un. Magazine, Archer, Metro and Black Inc.'s Growing Up Disabled In Australia anthology. He is 1/2 of the experimental (and toxic) comedy duo Nemeses with Vidya Rajan.
Elena Gomez is a poet and book editor living in Melbourne. She is the author of Body of Work and a number of chapbooks.
Jessica Knight is a writer, performer and comedian based in Melbourne. She has appeared in The Emerging Writers Festival, Red Dirt Poetry Festival. Her writing has appeared in Meanjin and Scum Mag. Jessica is a 2018 recipient of a Creative Victoria grant that will help fund her one woman show, Mormon Girl, about growing up Mormon and how she disentangled herself from that belief system to became the unapologetic feminist she is today. Jess won this November's MOTH story slam by telling a five minute version of her Mormon Girl show.
Elyce Phillips makes comics, comedy and general nonsense. She teaches and performs regularly at The Improv Conspiracy, and her writing has appeared in McSweeney’s and Funny Ha Ha.
Rachel Ang is an artist and writer who makes comics. Their work has been published by The New Yorker, The Washington Post, kuš!, as well as Australian journals like The Lifted Brow, Going Down Swinging and Meanjin.
Oslo Davis is an illustrator, cartoonist and artist who has drawn for a number of organisations worldwide, including the New York Times, the Age, the Monthly, Meanjin, SBS and the Guardian.
Anna Snoekstra is Melbourne-based novelist, and the author of Only Daughter – her debut book, published by Harlequin MIRA and optioned for film by Universal Pictures.
After finishing university, Anna wrote for independent films and fringe theatre, and directed music videos. During this time, she worked as a cheesemonger, a waitress, a barista, a nanny, a receptionist, a cinema attendant and a film reviewer.
Laniyuk is a writer and performer of poetry and short memoir. She contributed to the book Colouring the Rainbow: Blak Queer and Trans Perspectives in 2015, has been published online in Djed Press and the Lifted Brow, as well as in poetry collections such as Solid Air (UQP 2019). She received Canberra’s Noted Writers Festival’s 2017 Indigenous Writers Residency, Overland’s 2018 Writers Residency and was shortlisted for Overland’s 2018 Nakata-Brophy poetry prize. She is Cordite Poetry Review's current Indigenous Engagement Editor, runs poetry workshops for festivals such as Girls Write Up, moderates panel discussions, and has given lectures at ANU and The University of Melbourne. She is currently completing her first collection of work to be published.
Michael Williams is the Director of the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas in Melbourne. He has worked at the Wheeler Centre since inception in 2009, when he was hired as the Head of Programming before being appointed as Director in September 2011.
He has hosted Blueprint for Living (2015–2016), then Talkfest (2017–2019), on ABC RN. He remains a regular guest on ABC Radio and TV. Michael has also worked as a Breakfast presenter for Melbourne’s 3RRR, as a member of the Australia Council’s Literature Board, in publishing and has written extensively for the Guardian, the Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Australian and elsewhere.
Didem is a writer, speaker and facilitator, who grew up in the western suburbs of Melbourne. She is a writer of plays, essays and fiction.
Sam van Zweden is a Melbourne-based writer interested in memory, food, mental health and the body. Her writing has been published by the Saturday Paper, ABC Life, Meanjin, The Big Issue, The Lifted Brow, Cordite, The Sydney Review of Books, The Wheeler Centre and others. Her debut book, Eating with my Mouth Open, won the 2019 KYD Unpublished Manuscript Award, and is available now.
Based in Melbourne, Tariro is a multi-disciplinary storyteller, theatre maker, curator, cultural diversity and performance consultant, performance facilitator across performing arts, education, government, mental health, law enforcement and social justice. She graduated in 2011 from the Victorian College of the Arts with a Bachelor of Dramatic Arts, and received the Irene Mitchell Award for excellence in her final year.
Melbourne has always been a city of literature. Our population is bursting with rabid readers and writers. We have the best libraries, the coolest bookshops, the finest festivals and some truly pioneering publishers. Also, Monkey Grip is set here and we are the best at wearing turtlenecks.
So it made perfect sense when, in 2008, Melbourne joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and made it official – becoming a designated City of Literature in recognition of our literary spirit. Today, there are 28 cities of literature around the world, including Edinburgh, Krakow, Iowa City and Reykjavik. In November, we’ll mark the anniversary of our designation over three days of fun and gloriously indoor celebrations.
Come and hear stories of our storied city – then, join a debate about the past, present and future of Melbourne as a City of Literature. What literary trends were we preoccupied with ten years ago, and what will our bookish future look like? What’s it like to live here – are we complacent or spoiled? What does it really mean to be named a City of Literature – does it help or hinder our culture? We’ll nut it out in two-day event modelled around the idea of a city parliament.
Presented in partnership with the Melbourne UNESCO City of Literature Office.