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The 2023 Willy Lit Fest Launch

The 2023 Williamstown Literary Festival next month will stretch from the water’s edge of Williamstown Beach to the streets of Altona, Yarraville, and Footscray as part of its widest-ranging program yet to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

Tickets are on sale now!

While the festival will centre on the historic Williamstown Town Hall on June 16, 17 and 18, the program begins on 18 May with the first in a series of five special co-hosted events at the Louis Joel Arts and Community (LJAC) centre in Altona.

The festival was launched this week by the mayor of Hobsons Bay, Cr Tony Briffa, at an event where fantasy author Amelia Mellor was the special guest. Mellor whetted the appetite of invited guests by introducing the man behind Melbourne’s most famous 19th-century bookshop, E.W. Cole. (Mellor will be a guest at the Willy Lit Fest, chatting about her books The Grandest Bookshop in the World and The Bookseller’s Apprentice).

There are more than 100 artists appearing at Willy Lit Fest this year. Among them are Chris Womersley (The Diplomat), Jacinta Parsons (A Question of Age), Tim Baker (Patting the Shark), Katherine Kovacic (Seven Sisters), Jock Serong (The Settlement), Toni Jordan (Prettier if She Smiled More), Amanda Anastasi (The Inheritors), Ros Ben-Moshe (The Laughter Effect) and Andre Dao (Anam). But there are dozens more, including popular Western suburbs writers Nick Gadd, Trent Roberts and Alison Stuart.

There are sessions discussing witchcraft in the 21st century, gardening to encourage native bees, food writing, romance, and the relevance of our national broadcaster, the ABC. The saltiest session will be the early morning beach swim on the Sunday following a unique writing salon about the ocean and the Jawbone Reserve at the Williamstown Swimming and Life Saving Club.

For 2023 the kids’ program returns with sessions for younger readers, including a Sunday morning treat with Spike the Surf Dog, the amazing Melbourne rescue dog who won Noosa’s Dog Surfing Competition, and is a friend to the sea creatures of Port Phillip Bay.

A special event will be the launch of Dot Circle and Frame: The Making of Papunya Tula Art by Newport author John Kean in conversation with Gaye Sculthorpe, which reveals the origins of Australia’s most internationally significant art form. John’s book goes back 50 years to meet artists such as Kaapa Tjampitjinpa, Tim Leura, Clifford Possum and Johnny Warangula.

The program also includes all the much-loved features of the Willy Lit Fest: Stereo Stories, the concert where music and memoir meet; the People’s Choice Awards, where writers established and emerging get up to read their own works, and the awards ceremony for the prestigious Ada Cambridge Prizes and the Jennifer Burbidge Short Story Award.

The annual weekend festival of reading, writing and the spoken word has hosted around 700 writers over the years, representing almost all genres of literature. Each year, some 2000 session tickets are sold. This year’s festival will conclude on the Sunday night with a celebration party at Williamstown’s funkiest bar, Peachy Keen, co-presented with the Emerging Writers’ Festival.

Don’t miss out, book now!