Festival Program


Please select the tabs below to view each days scheduled sessions
Day 1
18 May 2023
Day 2
01 Jun 2023
Day 3
07 Jun 2023
Day 4
08 Jun 2023
Day 5
13 Jun 2023
Day 6
14 Jun 2023
Day 7
16 Jun 2023

Art Heists

In 1986, Picasso’s The Weeping Woman was stolen from the NGV. Weeks later it was discovered in a train station locker. Chris Womersley (The Diplomat) is an expert on art heists. With arts critic Tim Byrne, Chris will unravel truths stranger than fiction in Melbourne’s underground art world.   In...
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Tim Byrne
Chris Womersley

How Much Mary?

Diego Ramirez, Kate O’Boyle, Mel Deerson and Anna Parlane discuss apparitions of Marian art and literature, spanning centuries and continents.   In partnership with the Louis Joel Arts and Community Centre, Altona Buy tickets via the Louis Joel Arts Centre website.
Kate O’Boyle
Dr Anna Parlane
Diego Ramírez

no more poetry Salon

Local poetry publishing house ‘no more poetry’ is an independent publisher based in Naarm, publishing with bi-monthly poetry collections, a monthly newspaper and sporadic art ephemera. Join us for a reading with Genevieve Callaghan, Lia Dewey Morgan and Chunxiao Qu in the gallery.   In partnership with the Louis Joel...
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Chunxiao Qu
Genevieve Callaghan
Lia Dewey Morgan

Taxidermy and Fairytales

Rijn Collins’s Fed to Red Birds makes the macabre beautiful. With Anna Kate Blair, Rijn will transport us to the Iceland of fairytales, and share her meditations on taxidermy as a craft.   In partnership with the Louis Joel Arts and Community Centre, Altona Buy tickets via the Louis Joel Arts...
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Anna Kate Blair
Rijn Collins

Anam: Memory and Inheritance

A grandson tries to learn the family story. But what kind of story is it? Is it a prison memoir, about the grandfather imprisoned without charge or trial by a revolutionary government? Is it an oral history of the grandmother left behind to look after the children? Or is it...
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Hoang Tran Nguyen
André Dao

Bad Art Mother

Good mothers are expected to be selfless. Artists are seen as selfish. So what does this mean for a mother with artistic ambitions? Stella-celebrated writers Edwina Preston (Bad Art Mother) and Thuy On (Decadence) discuss ambition, practice and motherhood against the backdrop of the Melbourne milieu of Georges and Mirka...
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Thuy On
Edwina Preston

St Mary’s Poetry Slam

Under the tutelage of acclaimed spoken word poet Emilie Zoey Baker, the young poets of St Mary’s Primary School have been honing their craft. Their term’s hard work culminates in a school-day slam where students will engage and entertain their audience, whilst showcasing their poetic skills in writing and performance....
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Friday 16 June 2023

Featured Festival Event

Stereo Stories

Join festival favourites, as the Stereo Stories band celebrates the songs that shape our lives. With special guests Jock Serong, Nick Gadd, Jacinta Parsons, Rijn Collins, Angela Savage, Katherine Kovacic and Willy’s own Andy Griffiths and Smokie Dawson. Seating for Stereo Stories will be general admission, with both theatre-style rows and cabaret-style tables available. Arrive together to sit together. BYO...
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Katherine Kovacic
Nick Gadd
Jacinta Parsons
Stereo Stories Band
Andy Griffiths
Smokie Dawson
Rijn Collins
Angela Savage
Jock Serong

Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 June 2023

Please select the tabs below to view each days scheduled sessions
Day 1
17 Jun 2023
Day 2
18 Jun 2023

Laughing Yoga

Start your festival with a smile. Join positivity expert Ros Ben-Moshe (The Laughter Effect) for an introduction into a new dimension to self-care, elevating mindfulness, gratitude and self-compassion. Ros will lead a small guided laughter yoga practice, amidst the fascinating science of why laughter really is the best medicine.
Ros Ben-Moshe

A Country of Eternal Light

Grief is complicated. Paul Dalgarno (A Country of Eternal Light) speaks to Angela Savage about remaining wanted by our loved ones, dead or alive, and reckoning with our pasts.  
Paul Dalgarno
Angela Savage

Could ChatGPT Write a Novel?

AI language models like ChatGPT can generate text based on prompts. Its ability to write a coherent and emotionally engaging novel is… We ask Rhett Davis, Declan Fry and ChatGPT whether AI could write a novel.  
Declan Fry
Rhett Davis

Book Launch: Beyond Lawson

Join Leigh Hay, Mick Coventry, Margaret Ryan and James Thomas to celebrate the centenary of The Henry Lawson Memorial & Literary Society Inc. by launching Beyond Lawson, a collection of contemporary poems inspired by the works of Henry Lawson.  
Mick Coventry
Margaret Ryan
Leigh Hay
James Thomas

Dream Writing Workshop

Explore dreaming as storytelling practice, performance of symbology and tools for truth, play and deep engagement with our own stories with poet Manisha Anjali (Neptune). Turn dreams, visions and hallucinations into prose.  
Manisha Anjali

Not Quite Murder in Williamstown

Elizabeth Coleman (A Routine Infidelity) and Katherine Kovacic (Seven Sisters) discuss madcap murders, Phryne Fisher and psychological thrillers – with a particular lens on the criminal side of Williamstown. Moderated by Emily Spurr  
Katherine Kovacic
Elizabeth Coleman
Emily Spurr

It’s Just a Question of Smiling More

Toni Jordan (Prettier if She Smiled More) and RN’s Jacinta Parsons (Question of Age) unpack the patriarchy with hilarity and cutting observations, focussing on the slip in time when women of ‘a certain age’ begin to seem invisible.  
Jacinta Parsons
Toni Jordan

Writing Against ‘the Cult of Forgetfulness’

Australia’s colonial history is an act of violence against First Nations People. In order to move with care and hope into a shared future, how do we write through the ‘cult of forgetfulness’? Join Jock Serong (The Settlement) and Declan Fry as they tackle the ‘not my problem’ mindset.  
Declan Fry
Jock Serong

Lines at Lunchtime

Hear from two judges of our Ada Cambridge Poetry Prize, Andy Jackson (Human Looking) and Gayelene Carbis (I Have Decided to Remain Vertical) read from their recent collections in this free lunchtime event.
Gayelene Carbis
Andy Jackson

Welcoming Native Bees into Your Garden (***Session Cancelled***)

Join Emma Cutting (The Pollinator Handbook) for a fun and practical introduction to native bees, welcoming them to your green patch and street gardening. Learn about planting for biodiversity as active citizenship. A friendly session for both adults and children. This session has now been cancelled, should you have purchased...
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Emma Cutting

Who Writes a Recipe?

Three independent food writers, publishers and chefs: Rushani Epa (Colournary), Sasha Gattermayr (Tart) and Ella Mittas (Ela Ela) discuss food writing in an era where recipes can be found online, their food is more family and feeling. Moderated by Jess Ho  
Jess Ho
Ella Mittas
Sasha Gattermayr
Rushani Epa

Witchcraft in the 21st Century

Historically, witches have sat outcast by patriarchal society, but novels about witches are on the rise. Join Eliza Henry-Jones (Salt and Skin) and practising witch Rijn Collins (Fed to Red Birds) for a discussion on the role of witchcraft in the 21st century. Moderated by Rochelle Siemienowicz (Fallen)  
Rochelle Siemienowicz
Eliza Henry-Jones
Rijn Collins

Psychogeography of Williamstown

Over two years, Nick Gadd and his late wife Lynne circled the city of Melbourne on foot, starting in Williamstown and ending in Port Melbourne. Their walk was a meditation on lost histories embedded in place, in old buildings, derelict factories, and ‘ghost signs’ – evocative old painted signage for...
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Nick Gadd

Find Your Voice and Finish Your Book

Someone is waiting for the gift only your book can give. Join local award-winning author Louise Karch, M.Ed. and special guests Leanne Gordon and Daniel Burns for a Write Now and Out Loud power session. Come write, laugh, and fuel your inner author with wisdom and chocolate. (Bring your laptop...
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Leanne Gordon
Louise Karch
Daniel Burns

Festival Book Club

Join our special festival book club discussion of Murder in Williamstown by Kerry Greenwood. Have a cup of tea, a scone and join our host for a book chat.

Homemade Apothecary

Learn to ferment for good with Sharon Flynn (Wild Drinks). In this seminar learn to infuse, brew and ferment delicious and nutritious things to drink, from mead to kombucha.  
Sharon Flynn

First Time Podcast Talks Sad Girl Novels

First Time Podcast tackles the trials and triumphs of publishing. In a live episode recording, Katherine Collette talks to Pip Finkemeyer about Sad Girl Novel(s) and finding the perfect balance of delusion and ambition needed to write a novel.  
Pip Finkemeyer
Katherine Collette

Enclave and Blak Futurisms

What dystopia occurs when we ignore our shared humanity? Claire G. Coleman, master of speculative fiction explores a future of surveillance, disruption and segregation that echoes the horrors of our colonial past. Claire G. Coleman in conversation with Hella Ibrahim (Unlimited Futures) discuss speculative fiction as an act of decolonisation...
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Hella Ibrahim
Claire G. Coleman

Cautionary Tales for Excitable Girls

How can girls and women reach their potential in a culture that prefers them to be scared?  Anne Casey-Hardy in conversation with Angela Savage as they discuss the ‘excitable girls’ in Anne’s feminist stories who go after what they want, whatever the risk and regardless of what the world has to say...
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Anne Casey-Hardy
Angela Savage

It’s Never ‘Just’ a Love Story

‘Women’s fiction’ is a derogatory term used to dismiss romance as an airport read, full of feelings not facts – but a little bit of love should never undermine the story. Join local legend and historical fiction writer Alison Stuart, Genevieve Novak (Crushing) and Nicola Marsh – a USA Today...
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Alison Stuart
Genevieve Novak
Nicola Marsh
Emily Spurr

Book Launch: Dot, Circle and Frame

Dot Circle and Frame by John Kean reveals the origins of Australia’s most internationally significant art form. Return to Papunya (a remote Aboriginal community in Central Australia) with John Kean and Gaye Sculthorpe in 1971 and meet the exceptional cohort of ‘painting men’: Kaapa Tjampitjinpa, Tim Leura, Clifford Possum and...
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John Kean

Book Launch: Artful Women

Come and meet Artful Women, a work of poetry that explores the art and lives of women artists and writers ignored by history. Helen Cerne will read from this personal and political collection. Launched by Enza Gandolfo (The Bridge).  
Helen Cerne
Enza Gandolfo

The Adas Award Ceremony

Join us for the announcement of the winners of the Ada Cambridge Poetry, Biographical Prose and Young Adas Prizes, and the Jennifer Burbidge Short Story Award. Winners will read excerpts from their pieces.  

Paris or Die: A Performance

Paris, it seems, has its own plans for Jayne Tuttle. Drawn there from a cloud of grief, she finds herself in a dizzying neighbourhood, studying at an intense theatre school, and falling in love with a Frenchman too beautiful to be real. She will disappear into the culture if it...
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Jayne Tuttle

Running Deep: An Australian Submarine Life

From conducting top-secret missions to making history commanding the farthest deployment in the history of the Australian submarine service, Commodore Peter Scott deep dives into what it takes to be a Submariner. Moderated by Jeff Maynard Stay for sea shanties and a beer.  
Peter Scott
Jeff Maynard

Swimming Salon

The Crystals meets literature. Four writers will read on the theme of swimming; dip into great literary works that feature Jawbone Reserve and big, impossible waves. The reading will be followed by a winter swim for those feeling galvanised to share the majesty of the ocean. BYO thermos. Jock Serong,...
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Rebecca Olive
Louisa Lim
Tim Baker
Vin Maskell
Jock Serong

Why are we Still Writing about Virginia Woolf?

It’s been a century since Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury set were at their most prolific, yet readers still turn to them today. Join Michelle Cahill (Daisy and Woolf) and 3RRR’s Fiona Wright as they discuss reimaginings of Woolfs’ work, characters and her ongoing relevance.  
Michelle Cahill
Fi Wright

Spike the Surf Dog

From lost dogs home to surfing champion. Meet Spike the Surf Dog and his human Rob Lorenzon (Spike Surfs) for a storytime and a lesson on the critters of Port Phillip Bay.   Sponsored by Dog Town Pet Supplies  
Robert Lorenzon
Spike the Surf Dog

It’s Not Too Late

Join a comic, an entrepreneur and a health expert for global hope. Learn how local authors Louise Karch, Craig Lewis, Dr Liz Cyarto and 300 volunteers from 41 countries published the worldwide bestseller and award-winning The Carbon Almanac (plus a free kids book ‘Generation Carbon’). A fun session for kids...
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Dr Liz Cyarto
Craig Lewis
Louise Karch

We Live in a Caravan

Jess Tsigros (We Live in a Caravan) and her family lived in a caravan and visited every state and territory. Hear about some of the people they met, and the wildlife they spotted. Reconnect with nature in an interactive storytime. For children 3+  
Jess Tsigros

Everything Feels Like the End

How do we navigate a world in an era that feels like the beginning of the end? Climate, mental health, housing, and inflation are all commonly described as crises. Join Amanda Anastasi (The Inheritors), and Katerina Gibson (Women I Know) as they discuss the tenderness and interrogation required to navigate...
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Katerina Gibson
Lia Dewey Morgan
Amanda Anastasi

Patting the Shark

Tim Baker was living the dream. All this changed in 2015 when he was diagnosed with stage 4, metastatic prostate cancer. Jock Serong and Tim Baker will navigate the perilous journey of Patting the Shark, through chemo, surfing and a recovery more intimidating than the biggest swell.  
Tim Baker
Jock Serong

Workshop: Research your novel

Amelia writes extensively researched historical fiction and fantasy novels. Whether you’re trying to write your first book, improving the one you’re working on, or searching for the perfect publishing house, she’s here to help. Research isn’t boring! You’ll discover new sources of inspiration, learn to make your work richer, and...
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Amelia Mellor

The People’s Choice

It’s your chance to be the festival favourite! Local writers, read your poetry or prose (no longer than four minutes) and be crowned the People’s Choice by an audience vote. Prizes to be won. Fill in this form to enter the competition. MC-ed by Chris Ringrose  
Chris Ringrose

Lines at Lunchtime

Hear from poets Thuy On (Decadence) and Amanda Anastasi (The Inheritors) read from their recent collections in this free lunchtime event.
Thuy On
Amanda Anastasi

Stunt Kids

Could you survive Stunt Camp where daredevil kids jump from great heights, engage in intense combat and flip, twist and tumble like it’s the easiest thing in the world? Trent Roberts (Stunt Kids) is ready to assign you to a top secret, highly dangerous mission. For children 6+ Parents and...
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Trent Roberts

Re-writing a Childhood

There is a vantage point in midlife where you can examine the legacy of your childhood and face the myths that make us. Gina Perry (My Father the Whale) and Megan Rogers (The Heart is a Star) discuss whether it’s possible to rewrite a childhood? Moderated by Fi Wright  
Fi Wright
Megan Rogers
Gina Perry

Indelible City

The story of Hong Kong has long been obscured by competing myths: to Britain, a ‘barren rock’ with no appreciable history; to China, a part of Chinese soil from time immemorial that has at last returned to the ancestral fold. Navigate the tense history of Hong Kong through the lens...
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Louisa Lim
Jinghua Qian

The Beige Index

Ever wondered how diverse your favourite films are? The Beige Index is the Bechdel Test for race, exploring ethnic representation in IMDb’s Top 250 Films, featuring hot takes and data visualisations. Join co-creators Jonathan O’Brien and Siang Lu (The Whitewash) as they share stories and blame for how The Beige...
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Jonathan O’Brien
Siang Lu

Writing from Lived Experience

Transform your lived experience of mental health. This seminar provides a space for writers to ask questions about their projects, with guidance from experts Michelle Vasiliu (My Happy Sad Mummy) and Karen Ingram (Lifting the Lid). Hosted by Mia Boonen, supported by the Satellite Foundation  
Michelle Write
Karen Ingram

Haunted, Vivid and Exciting Women I Know

Three short story writers, Paige Clark (She is Haunted), Paul Dalla Rosa (An Exciting and Vivid Inner Life) and Katerina Gibson (Women I Know) read from their latest collections and discuss the short story as a form.  
Paul Dalla Rosa
Paige Clark
Katerina Gibson

Misogyny in Medicine

Neela Janakiramanan (The Registrar) and Susan White (Cut) have written thrillers set against the backdrop of a broken hospital system. In these psychological works of fiction, the most confronting aspect of their work day is not the high stress environment, but the men they work with. Moderated by Jacinta Halloran...
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Jacinta Halloran
Susan White
Neela Janakiramanan

Who Needs the ABC?

For the past nine years, the ABC has been besieged. Its funding has been slashed. It has been assailed by complaints from ministers and prime ministers. It has been relentlessly attacked by commercial media outlets. But who needs the ABC? Matthew Ricketson (Who Needs the ABC?), and Jinghua Qian discuss...
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Matthew Ricketson
Jinghua Qian

Westside Writers Salon

In partnership with the Emerging Writers’ Festival, join four new writers from the West: Kgshak Akec (Hopeless Kingdom), Sam Elkin (ed. Nothing to Hide), Gareth Morgan (When a Punk Becomes a Spunk) and Lia Dewey Morgan (Bath Songs) as they read a selection from their recent work. MC-ed by Elise...
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Sam Elkin
Kgshak Akec
Lia Dewey Morgan
Gareth Morgan

The Grandest Bookshop in the World

It had monkeys, sweets, a greenhouse, it was the biggest bookstore in the world! And it was right here in Melbourne. Amelia Mellor (The Grandest Bookshop in the World) takes us on a wild ride through the history of Cole’s Book Arcade. In conversation with Irma Gold, ‘stay as long...
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Amelia Mellor

Infidelity and Other Affairs

When faced with her husband’s affair, journalist Kate Legge (Infidelity and Other Affairs) discovered a fault line of betrayal running through four generations of his family. But is unfaithfulness predisposition or a learned behaviour? Legge and Clare Wright examine the vast catalogue of human behaviours that make us who we...
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Clare Wright
Kate Legge

Birthday Party!

As the festival comes to a close, come and celebrate 20 years of both Willy Lit Fest and the Emerging Writers Festival. Join our two program directors Emily Westmoreland (WLF) and Ruby-Rose Pivet-Marsh (EWF) as they interview the two festivals’ founders Angela Altair and Esther Anatolitis on the scope of...
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Angela Altair
Ruby-Rose Pivet-Marsh
Esther Anatolitis
Emily Westmoreland

Further West Program

Saturday Program

Sunday Program