Behind the scenes —

Work with US! Multicultural Program Coordinator

We’ve got an exciting new role working directly with both the Emerging Writers’ Festival and Melbourne Writers Festival!

Melbourne Writers Festival (MWF) and the Emerging Writers’ Festival (EWF) support and celebrate writers and readers of all kinds. Both organisations are seeking to reduce barriers to attendance and participation in literature events, and to support diversity of participation in the arts.

The post-holder will develop partnerships with community groups that work with culturally and linguistically diverse audiences, and will develop literary programs and events for the 2016 MWF and EWF festivals that grow diverse festival audiences and participants.

Click here for a full position description and details of how to apply. Applications close 5pm, Wednesday 14 October

MWF and EWF’s Multicultural Literary Programming Initiative 2015-16 has been made possible through the support of the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust.


Volunteer Call Out


Would you like experience in events? Would you like to see how our festival operates? And, very importantly, do you want to help make 2014 even more amazing that it is already shaping up to be?

We are currently looking for volunteers – is that YOU?

Volunteer duties include assisting festival staff in ushering & checking tickets. Note that all volunteers must be able to commit to half a day on the Writers’ Conference weekend plus two other festival events across Tuesday 27 May – Friday 6 June.

There will also be a brief festival briefing (and t-shirt pickup) on Monday 12th May at 5.30pm at The Wheeler Centre. It will be essential that you are able to attend this event.

In return, volunteers will be given access to all events (except Writing Night School events) and a festival t-shirt. Naturally our love, too!

Please email Kate to register your interest with the following information:

• Your contact details (name, phone number, email etc).
• Your availability for the festival.
• Why you want to participate, plus any relevant skills or experience you might have.

We always have far more applicants that places available for volunteers, so the better you answer the above points the better chance you have to be selected.

We can’t wait to hear from you!

Associate Producers: EWF Friends 4 Lyf

Every year, the Emerging Writers Festival takes on four Associate Producers who take on responsibility for an event at the festival. The challenging and rewarding program also presents opportunities to meet people in the Melbourne writing community. If you want to be involved, applications close 5pm Thursday 23 January 2014.

Kate McKenzie and Fiona Dunne met during their time as Associate Producers. We spoke to them about their experience.

What was your responsibility as an Associate Producer? 

Kate: I was originally responsible for Page Parlour, the zine fair event, which I was pretty excited about. It was an event that I had enjoyed in previous years, and I am excited about indie publishing. I already had some zines in particular which I hoped would get involved so I could meet the editors. Once the festival came closer, I was asked to take on responsibility for the Late Night Live events at Thousand Pound Bend. These literary events were hosted in an amazing warehouse space, and I had a lot of work to do to transform the event space. I brought in a stage and a projector and other equipment to create a performance space where artists could present awards, present readings and host panels. I was lucky enough to work with Melbourne magazines The Lifted Brow and Kill Your Darlings and Sydney magazines Ampersand and Seizure. They had some incredible guests including Bill Henson, Helen Razor as well as the winner of the Viva La Novella prize, Jane Jervis-Reid.

Fiona: I was a bit of an experiment in a few ways. I was brought on as an AP with the aim of making the festival a good experience for interstate attendees. Sam Twyford-Moore, as the festival’s first interstate Director, recognised the need to acknowledge the investment that writers make in travelling and attending the festival each year, between booking fights, trains, or hotels, and taking time off work.

With this in mind, we hosted an interstate networking event at the Thousand Pound Bend. It was an informal space where you could grab a beer or coffee and just have a chat with others who had travelled to Melbourne. It meant that there was a familiar face in the crowd and you could orientate yourself in the city before The Writers’ Conference began.

I also hosted the Australian Stories panel at The Writers’ Conference, where we heard from Ben Walter, Vanessa Jones, Leni Shilton and Chritopher Currie about the work that was going on in their respective states. I think it was a wonderful panel in many ways, and certainly highlighted the strong, diverse work that was occurring nationally. It was also a wake-up for many of the Melbournians in the crowd, and raised a lot of questions about what we could do to open up communication between the states to foster the writing.

Otherwise, I was helping out wherever I could, meeting and talking to people coming through the doors and live-tweeting until my fingers fell off or Twitter broke (whichever came first).

What did you learn? 

F: Tons. Learning what goes into producing a yearly festival was astounding. It’s a lot of love, energy, and sweat for everyone involved, and it was incredible to see the program on paper translate into conversations, discussions, debates, and performances. I learnt how to host a panel, write blog posts, research and analyse audience statistics, set-up, pack down and evaluate the success of events. It was really rewarding to see the process of programming go from an idea, to briefing sheet, to the event, and beyond.

K: I learned a lot very quickly. It was a challenging position – in a good way! Because it is a small team, everyone has to be able to help out in lots of different areas. I had to send out briefing sheets, write blog posts, organise volunteers, set up equipment and report on events. The Emerging Writers Festival has year-round programming, so I also worked at the White Night event last year because it happened to be during my time as an AP.

What was your highlight of the festival experience? 

F: Well, that’s a hard one. Overall, I enjoyed meeting new people and talking to them about their work or projects. It was especially exciting to meet those that I followed, or spoke to on Twitter, admired from afar, or those who only seemed to live on my bookshelf or radio. Continuing those relationships beyond the festival has been just as great. For example, I met Kate during the program launch at The Wheeler Centre. Sam said something along the lines of ‘Hey, you’re both APs, you should talk.’ After that, we grabbed some dinner and added each other on Facebook.  She very kindly let me crash in her spare room for the festival and introduced me to some of Melbourne’s best coffee and Spanish baked eggs.

The Hobart Roadshow was really fun, and a great experience to find out who the talented writers of Tasmania are and how their burgeoning literary community. They really blew me away with their work and enthusiasm.

Program wise, Sweatshop Stories was incredible and anybody who saw them will attest to that. Listening to Melinda Harvey talk on literary criticism as part of Critical Conditions, and hosting Australian Stories was a definite (if somewhat nerve-wrecking) highlight, as well as hosting and organizing Seizure’s Late Night Live event at the Thousand Pound Bend. Oh, and eating a steady diet of burgers and cider at the Bend for the 10 days I was there.

K: I really enjoyed the performance by literacy collective, Sweatshop, at the Writers’ Conference. They really blew my mind with their incredible energy and talent. Each speaker had such a strong voice, you really got sucked into their world as they were speaking.

I also got to meet the other festival staff who work incredibly hard and party just as hard. I met another AP, Fiona, when she came down to Melbourne just before the festival. We had dinner together at Thousand Pound Bend and she ended up staying with me during the festival later that year. I still work with her on projects and we Skype across the country.

I was lucky enough to go to the EWF Hobart Roadshow and I was asked to host a panel at MONA. The whole roadshow was really wonderful, and it was great to make connections with the Hobart literary community.

Kate McKenzie hosting a panel at MONA

What are you doing now, and how did the Associate Producer program help you get there?

F: At the end of last year, I was hired as the Publishing and Marketing Assistant of ARTAND Australia. It’s a fantastic and varied role with a truly intelligent and influential magazine. Each day is quite different, but overall, I assist in the production of the magazine and book projects, manage subscriptions, and help the office to run smoothly. It takes a great deal of organisation and adaptability, and I think The Emerging Writers’ Festival really prepares you to be versatile, creative and work to an unforgiving deadline.

Being an Associate Producer teaches you the ropes of how a literary festival works, the challenges it faces and just how wide-ranging contemporary literature is in Australia. This year, I’ll be working on the festival to produce an exciting new program. It’s an exciting opportunity, and definitely one I wouldn’t have been able to do without the skills and knowledge I learnt last year.

K: I have just been hired as the Marketing and Development Co-Ordinator at EWF. It is a new role, and it is super exciting to be able to take on this role and really make it my own. I have been working on some really cool projects with the Digital Writers’ Festival which is coming up in a few weeks. It really is ahead of the game in terms of digital events for writers. I have big ideas for developing the existing audience of the Festival and building new audiences interstate and overseas.

I am also a publisher’s assistant at COSMOS magazine. I get to work on bringing a print magazine into the digital world as part of a pioneering team. I have a very broad role where I help everyone in the editorial team as well as managing the subscriptions department. It is really great to be a part of the publishing world and to make a meaningful contribution to it. They were impressed with my work at EWF and I bring my digital marketing and event planning experience to the team there.

Hobart Roadshow Day Three

For the last and final day of the EWF Hobart Roadshow, literary journals Twitch and Stilts met to share ideas, workshop and tell stories. We were lucky enough to catch all the action on film and can share it with you today. This is the third and final EWF Roadshow wrap up for 2013.

Day 3 from Emerging Writers' Festival on Vimeo.

Hobart Roadshow Day Two

It was a perfect sunny day for Day Two of the EWF Hobart Roadshow. Filmmaker Joel Checkley shares the highlights with this short film.

Day 2 from Emerging Writers' Festival on Vimeo.

Hobart Roadshow Film Day One

In the early hours of Thursday October 31, The Emerging Writers’ Festival and dozens of artists from across Australia arrived bleary but wide-eyed at MONA for the 2013 Hobart Roadshow.

Filmmaker Joel Checkley was there to capture the day.

Emerging Writers’ Festival Hobart Roadshow 2013 from Emerging Writers' Festival on Vimeo.

Introducing EWF’s first ever General Manager!

We’re excited to announce, after a national search, that Kate Callingham will join the organisation in the newly created role of General Manager!

Kate comes to EWF from a development role at the Melbourne Writers Festival and with experience in arts management roles across a broad range of Melbourne-based Arts organisations. Prior to her time at Melbourne Writers Festival, Kate has held project management roles at Melbourne Art Foundation and Melbourne International Film Festival. Passionate about sustainable business models in the arts sector, Kate is currently completing a Masters of Business Administration.

Kate comes with an impressive background and we’re excited to see where she will take the festival, alongside Festival Director Sam Twyford-Moore. As our Chair, Mary Masters,  said  “The announcement of our new General Manager, Kate Callingham, is a chance to celebrate how far our organisation has come in ten years and look to the future with a strengthened leadership team and someone who can drive the organisations strategic plans. We are extremely excited about the skills, experience, and passion that Kate brings to the organisation.”

Kate has already expressed her enthusiasm for the opportunity to lead the organisation into the future, “I am excited to be joining an organisation that shares my passion for developing digital and creative spaces for artists. It’s a privilege to be in a position to make a positive and lasting impact on the Emerging Writers’ Festival and I look forward to building on the existing successes of the organisation, forging links between the EWF community and new audiences, and advocating for the Festival to the wider community.”

Kate is coming into the role at the festival at the perfect time – we’re heading to Tasmania just next week to deliver the Emerging Writers’ Festival Hobart Roadshow! Talk about throwing someone in the deep end! Kate will very quickly get to see just what an incredible national reach this organisation has and what an impact we can make on the creative careers of emerging writers. Welcome aboard Kate! We look forward to working with you!

The Emerging Writers’ Festival will bring it’s Roadshow to Tasmania from Thursday 31 October to Saturday 2 November 2013. For more the full program and to book, visit our events page.

This Isn’t a “Goodbye” – more of a “See you around soon!”

After two EWF’s under my belt as program manager, today will be my last day here at our Wheeler Centre HQ. I’ve not written a check-in post in quite a while (since May 2012, in fact) and thought I might try to string a few words together for this occasion.

As I’m sitting here, I can hear the last of the cleaning staff pack up their trolleys to wheel away and the scattering of conversations from the floor begin as more and more people start to arrive (I’m an early bird). The groanings and growls from various heavy machinery outside provide soundtrack when I’m not listening to music. It’s a nice, reflective time to be here, not only at this hour of the day but this period of the year, as the dust has more-or-less settled and I’ve caught up on sleep and feel – relatively! – normal again.

This has been my sixth EWF in total, and sixth in speaking in some sort of capacity. I feel a deep, deep affection and loyalty towards this festival, its staff and community, and it has afforded me many memories up until this point. I thought I’d share some of my favourites.

1. When I was staying in the city for the Town Hall Conference weekend in 2009, my hotel caught fire and we all had to be evacuated.

The beginning

The fireman discussing what to do before we were evacuated

But it was okay, because while they were putting out the fire and making things safe to return, I went and met Adele for the first time, chatting about books and writers for ages.

2. Another year, bunking down with Tiggy, again for the Town Hall Weekend, and us giggling and gossiping until the wee hours, raking through those enormous lit-filled showbags that used to be handed out.

3. Finally getting to meet writers who I’d published in Miscellaneous Voices: Australian Blog Writing #1 (some I’d known before), particularly Derek Motion, as we’d been on an ABC radio segment the night of the launch, and he was cut off and I always felt bad that had happened!

4. Getting big bear hugs from Laurie Steed. I burst into tears when he gave me one this year – they’re that good. Anyone who’s had one can testify to that truth.

5. Sitting at Page Parlour for those cold, weird, fun, time-stretchy days alongside many other passionate Indie and Zine publishers. With Tim Train‘s vegan baked goods!

page parlour 2011

6. Personally delivering a Berocca to Lisa Dempster (and having one myself) when we both needed a pick-me-up one day at Town Hall.

7. Simply being in the presence of other writers, talking about craft and issues close to our hearts, leaving inspired and motivated.

8. Being a 2012 Spelling Bee finalist. Pressure. (Losing to the very worthy Tully Hansen.)

Karen Andrews

9. On the back floor at Abbotsford Convent, a row of us getting into bridge position (or trying to get into bridge position!): my daughter, me, Sam Twyford-Moore and Mary Masters. I think we must’ve been quite the sight as a few people turned around in their seats to see what was happening. That was when the lack-of-sleep-makes-us-do-silly-stuff stage of the festival had well and truly kicked in.

10. And as I said before, the people.

Staff Picture - Closing Night Party 2013

Kate and Me

I’ll still be around in my usual way – on social media, blogging etc – and will certainly be returning for festivals in the future! It’s been terrific to see the organisation blossom, even in the years since I became involved, into what it has become and I’m certain there’s still much more to go!


This counts as a Golden Ticket, right?!

p.s Special mention also goes to former festival director David Ryding, who met with me that day in Flinders Lane for coffee in 2008 and I talked my mouth off for almost a solid hour. Afterwards, I was worried I’d killed my chances of becoming involved, so was very thankful he still invited me. I won’t forget!

Scream and shout with the Bali Emerging Writers’ Festival road show: Singaraja to Ubud

I wake up at dawn in Bali’s far north. Team BEWF snore in adjacent rooms – we rocked out to over five hours of performance and writing madness last night. I still have the image of a green-painted, nappy-wearing beastie-boy eating a whole watermelon with his face on stage in my mind. Mid-twenties, triple-funded Melbourne performance art has nothing on this.

A farmer points me in the direction of the beach and the dogs point me away. They are large and bored and look like they might want an Australian to eat. Back at the hotel, the BEWF crew arrive one by one for a morning swim in the pool and to eat our (second) breakfast. It’s as though we’re all taking a deep breath for the next part of the festival: a two hour workshop/conversation run by Sonia and I. I take a deep breath and duck dive into the over-chlorinated water.

Sonia and I 'in conversation'.

The hall at the University is already filled and buzzing with (mostly) young people. This is most of Sonia’s creative writing course and they (like me) adore her. Sonia starts by firing a few questions at me and then we open it up to the crowd. It begins slowly, a trickle, then the full force of creative enquiry comes at us.

‘What are the ethics behind memoir writing?’

‘Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction? Performance or prose?’

‘Can you talk about conflict and what it means to a short story?’

And, inevitably, ‘What was it like to write about your open relationship? What is an open relationship?’

A character exercise, would you believe …

We move the session on to the workshop, where I’ve decided to talk about character. Character! There are some characters in the crowd. After I’ve writhed, sweated, screamed and shouted through my poetic refurbishment of ‘My way’ (who is this woman? I ask. What is her character? Drunk, we decide.) the students get their turn. I’ve asked them to write a letter in character, then read it out. We get letters consisting of only three words repeated over and over, letters that are novelistic in scope, and letters so personal that the writer disappears quickly after reading it, cigarette in mouth. We get explorations of character that would satisfy any writing how-to. We get, not the best of emerging Bali, but the best of emerging anywhere.

As a workshopper, I am stunned and admiring. As a performer, I am flattered. As an exchange … writer … I can’t wait for the next weekend in Denpasar – kicking it with the southern crowd. And then beyond that to the EWF in Melbourne, the even more southern crowd, to talk emerging writing to emerging writers.

Laura Jean McKay will be appearing at Words Travel: Australia and Indonesia at the Emerging Writers’ Festival’s annual Writers’ Conference.

The Emerging Writers’ Festival/Bali Emerging Writers International Exchange is supported by the Commonwealth through the Australia Indonesia Institute of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


EOI for filming opportunity at EWF

Are you a filmmaker looking for a professional filming and editing credit?

This year EWF is working with Open Channel to offer emerging filmmakers the opportunity to film and edit sessions at this year’s festival, using state of the art Open Channel film and edit facilities.

We are seeking filmmakers to film and edit one hour-long EWF session using Open Channel’s equipment and edit suite. Along with a filming and editing credit to your name, you will also get a ticket to attend one EWF event.

To express your interest or if you have any questions, please contact Belinda at by Friday April 26th.

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