I’m truly bummed not to be able to go to National Young Writers Festival (NYWF) this year. Instead, I’ll be heading west with QWC’s Programming Director Julie Beveridge, with Neil Diamond on the iPod apparently, visiting the fine citizens of Roma, Cunnamulla, Goondiwindi and Toowoomba to present QWC events.

That road trip is going to be fab and I can’t wait to see what the writers of those towns are working on. But having just checked out the NYWF program on their site I’m really sorry to miss it. This is exciting stuff, and despite the name, is a festival that any one of any age would enjoy and be stimulated by. There’s a killer line-up of guests including Marcus Westbury, Mark Davis, Amy Barker, Lisa Dempster, Simon Worthington, and Michael Webster. NYWF also presents the kind of events that seem to be mostly absent from the mainstream writers festivals in capital cities, events such as Web2Pod how-to workshops, StreetSpoken, a spoken word tour of Newcastle’s hidden locations and Get Lost! (with me), an interactive art adventure combining photography and storytelling in public and private spaces around the festival.

In every nook and cranny of the festival program there’s something to do, say, create and participate in, a much more energetic and active focus than writers festivals where the emphasis is on listening and observing. That’s not a criticism of the major capital city festivals, but more an observation that the audiences are different, and I don’t mean that NYWF is targeted at young people. The audiences are different because NYWF is aimed at writers, makers, producers and curators, rather than readers and the general public. Or, looked at from a different angle, NYWF assumes its audience wants to write as well as read, create as well as consume.

So, while I’m dodging kangaroo carcasses on the Moonie Highway singing along to Sweet Caroline (thanks, Jules), I hope you will be at the National Young Writers Festival making your own zine and remixing some lit.

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