Magda Szubanski in Conversation - 10 October

On Saturday, 10 October, the much-loved comedian will visit Newcastle to discuss her new memoir Reckoning. Festival Director Rosemarie Milsom will be speaking to Magda about her extraordinary book, which describes her journey of self-discovery from a suburban childhood, haunted by the demons of her father's espionage activities in wartime Poland and by her secret awareness of her sexuality, to the complex dramas of adulthood and her need to find out the truth about herself and her family.

This intimate event will be held at Watt Street ARC, at 45 Watt Street, Newcastle, from 7pm. Tickets are $20 and are available now at There will limited cash-only door sales. Maclean's Booksellers will be selling copies of Reckoning, which Magda will happily sign.


Peter Garrett in Conversation - 22 October

On Thursday, 22 October, well-known Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett will be the star attraction at a special event at Newcastle City Hall. Peter will discuss his autobiography Big Blue Sky. This inspiring evening will trace Peter's journey from the northern suburbs of Sydney through to university, his music career and time as an environmental activist, as well as the most recent period as a minister in two Labor governments. Hear Peter's insights, views and stories, as he traces his journey of "growing up and making waves in the best place on earth".

The event will be held from 7.30pm in the Concert Hall, King Street, Newcastle. Tickets are $25 will be on sale from Thursday, 3 September, via or by phoning 4929 1977. Peter will sign copies of his book at the conclusion of the one-hour conversation. Thank you to MacLean's Booksellers for supporting this event.


Special Reading by poet Les Murray - 25 July

Poet Les Murray drove himself to Newcastle from Bunyah on Saturday, 25 July, and brought the sunshine and his incisive wit with him. Forced to withdraw from a scheduled appearance at this year's Newcastle Writers Festival in March due to illness, Murray wanted to fulfill his commitment so a special stand-alone event was organised with the assistance of Newcastle Region Library.

An audience of 85 filled the library's Lovett Gallery and listened to Murray read a selection of poems from his new volume, Waiting for the Past. The event's host, festival director Rosemarie Milsom, then interviewed Murray, who also happily answered questions from the audience.

Murray revealed that after avoiding computers in favour of a pen and typewriter, he has started to dabble with technology. He also said he no longer had any time for politics - "It's not good for you" - though his thoughts were with long-time friend, political commentator and writer Bob Ellis, who has been diagnosed with liver cancer. The pair were flatmates in their student days at the University of Sydney.


New residency opportunity for an emerging regional writer

Emerging writers from regional Australia are invited to apply for an exciting new two-week residency being offered at The Lock-Up, Newcastle, in the lead-up to next year’s Newcastle Writers Festival. The successful applicant will be given two weeks’ accommodation in a self-contained apartment at The Lock-Up, a contemporary inner-city arts space in the historic East End, as well as a $700 weekly stipend from the Newcastle Writers Festival. The resident will also have the opportunity to participate in the festival, which last year attracted more than 5500 people to the city. The residency is supported by The Lock-Up and the University of Newcastle.

Festival Director Rosemarie Milsom said the residency would give an emerging writer the chance to carve out some time to focus on a work-in-progress. “We are really excited to be offering this opportunity,” Milsom said. “Opportunities for regional writers are hard to come by and writing can be an isolating experience. The festival’s aim is to create a sense of community while promoting literature and the exchange of ideas. The residency is an extension of this and is open to regional writers Australia-wide. Not only does it offer the successful applicant some breathing space to write, it also gives them a great chance to engage with the community at the Newcastle Writers Festival.”

Writers who have not had a book commercially published and who are working towards a full-length work in any genre (including poetry and drama) are invited to apply. Applications will be assessed by Newcastle Writers Festival Director Rosemarie Milsom, Keri Glastonbury (University of Newcastle) and Sam Twyford-Moore (Director, Emerging Writers Festival).

The residency period is from 22 March to 4 April, 2016. Applicants must reside in a regional area as defined by state and federal departments as areas outside metropolitan centres. It excludes cities with populations of more than 100,000. Submissions open on Wednesday, 1 July and close on 1 October 2015. The successful applicant will be notified by 30 November.

Click here to download the conditions of entry and an application form.

Click here for more information about the Lock-Up Artist in Residence Program.


The Newcastle Writers Festival is now over for 2015, and exceeded all expectations. Thank you to our guest writers, volunteers, hosts, sponsors and, most importantly, our enthusiastic audiences. Special thanks to MacLean's Booksellers, Scion Audio, graphic designer Miranda Whittle, photographer Chris Patterson, and the hard-working staff at Newcastle City Hall. 

See you at the 2016 event, 1-3 April!

Some highlights from NWF15 - and read more in our latest newsletter


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