Voices from many cultures to resonate at Byron Writers Festival 2016


Powerful stories from different cultures will be told at the 20th Byron Writers Festival as Australian and international writers, thinkers and commentators converge on Byron Bay from 5-7 August 2016.

Festival Director Edwina Johnson says the event brings together diverse voices to explore, challenge and highlight important discussions we need to have in Australia. ‘The power of hearing people’s experiences first-hand cannot be underestimated in providing personal, social and political understanding.’

Expect provocative, measured commentary from Stan Grant who will present the annual Thea Astley Lecture. His commentary on the Adam Goodes incident is indicative. ‘Indigenous Australians heard ‘the howl of humiliation that echoes across two centuries of dispossession, injustice, suffering and survival. We heard the howl of the Australian Dream and it said ‘you’re not welcome’.

Stan Grant’s book Talking to My Country is a powerful meditation on race and essential reading for all Australians.

‘The knowledge embodied by our old people is a fabulous treasure trove. In the Aboriginal way, nobody ever has all the stories, or all the answers,’ says author Melissa Lucashenko who, along with local Elders, will launch Our Way Stories at the Festival.  It will be published in partnership with Arts Northern Rivers, and local Aboriginal woman Dale Roberts who worked alongside some of the Northern Rivers region’s most respected Elders for two years to record their stories in their own words before they were lost. ‘Elders. Language. Story. Country. All can be our guides. Here are some wonderful yarns by Elders who have lived long and listened well,’ says Lucashenko.

Conversations take a multi-cultural tilt when actor and screenwriter Osamah Sami discusses Good Muslim Kids with mechanical engineer and social advocate Yassmin Abdel-Magied. Sami will also be joined by Jesuit priest Father Frank Brennan and Sri Lankan born author Rajith Savanadasa as they delve into Justice for Refugees with leading human rights lawyer David Manne and journalist Chip Rolley. Poet, novelist and political activist Salma, arts writer and memoirist Rosalyn D’Mello and poet Sharanya Manivannan will share their personal insights into India’s gender revolution.

In Indigenous Lives Through Women’s Eyes Melissa Lucashenko will share stories with writer Tara June Winch and Byron Shire Citizen of the Year Delta Kay. Frank Brennan, Stan Grant and award-winning Australian author Tom Keneally will join together in the session Indigenous Recognition and the Australian Constitution. Sharanya Manivannan (India), Rajith Savanadasa (Sri Lanka), Beth Yahp(Malaysia) and Sohila Zanjani (Iran) will discuss Multicultural Influences in a session hosted by Festival Chair, Chris Hanley.

The 2016 Byron Writers Festival brings the world to Byron Bay from 5-7 August. Tickets are now on sale at byronwritersfestival.com.