Lunch with Olympian Leisel Jones

The festival is thrilled to announce a special event with Olympic gold medallist Leisel Jones on the opening day of the festival, Friday 1 April. From the gold medal dais at the Beijing Olympic Games to the depths of depression, Leisel will talk to Newcastle sport identity Brett Keeble about the highs and lows of life in the fast lane, as well as finding her feet after competitive swimming. She will also sign copies of her memoir Body Lengths.

The lunch will be held from 12pm to 2pm at Crowne Plaza Newcastle and the $55 ticket includes a welcome glass of bubbly and two-course meal. Thank you to genXwomen and MacLean’s Booksellers for supporting this event.

Click here for tickets and if you have special dietary requirements email
by Wednesday, 23 March. Please note that door sales will not be available. 

Newsletter: Read more about NWF16 in our latest newsletter! Scroll to the bottom of this page to subscribe.


Inaugural NWF Microlit Competition Winners

The festival launched its inaugural Hunter Region Microlit Competition late last year in partnership with Spineless Wonders. The four finalists are Amanda Berry, Kelli Hawkins, Jodi Vial and Karen Whitelaw. The winner will be announced during a session at this year's festival and will receive $250. Short and Sweet: The Art of Microlit will be held on Saturday, 2 April, from 4.30pm in the Hunter Room in Newcastle City Hall and will feature the competition judges Bronwyn Mehan, Richard Holt and Joanna Atherfold Finn. 

All four entries have been read by actor Eleni Schumacher and recorded for a special visual presentation by Richard Holt, a visual artist, who manages Big Story Small


Regional Emerging Writer Residency brings Alice Springs talent to Newcastle

The Newcastle Writers Festival is delighted to announce that Alice Springs writer Michael Giacometti has been selected for the inaugural Regional Emerging Writer Residency, offered in partnership with The Lock-Up and University of Newcastle. Giacometti will spend two weeks in Newcastle in the lead up to the festival in April and will also participate in the program.

The three judges were impressed by his submission, which included an evocative short story written from the perspective of a six-year-old Indigenous child. Giacometti has spent the past decade working and travelling across isolated parts of Australia, including a walk across the Simpson Desert in 2008.

Festival director Rosemarie Milsom said the Festival aimed to promote the work of regional writers and the residency added another layer to this.

"Michael is actively involved in the Alice Springs writing community and it is wonderful to be able to offer him an opportunity to connect with other writers in Newcastle as well as being able to focus on his writing.”

Giacometti said he was looking forward to visiting Newcastle for the first time and would use the residency to continue working on his outback gothic novel.

“Regional writers are far removed from the literary landscape and opportunities of the major cities,” he said. “And though this creates some problems of isolation, it allows regional writers to develop a vastly different perspective, focus, and voice to urban writers. I am looking forward to exploring the Newcastle region, writing and engaging with local writers and creatives at The Lock-Up and Newcastle Writers Festival.”

The emerging writer residency is supported by The Lock-Up and University of Newcastle. It was judged by Newcastle Writers Festival director Rosemarie Milsom, University of Newcastle Creative Writing lecturer Dr Keri Glastonbury and writer and former director of the Emerging Writers' Festival Sam Twyford-Moore.



Newcastle Writers Festival is thrilled to announce that Tim Flannery, Charlotte Wood and Rosie Waterland are among the 140 writers who will be participating in this year's festival from 1 to 3 April. Their superb books traverse memoir, climate change and fiction. The full program will be issued on 20 February via our website. Tickets on sale 22 February. Stay tuned for more announcements.


MicroLit Competition

The Newcastle Writers Festival MicroLit competition, for imaginative writing of less than 200 words, is now closed. Thanks for your entries. 


Peter Garrett in Conversation - 22 October

On Thursday, 22 October, iconic Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett strode into Newcastle City Hall for a special event to mark the release of his autobiography Big Blue Sky. He spoke with NWF director Rosemarie Milsom about his many visits to Newcastle over the years, including the famous concert on Redhead Beach. He was thrilled to discover there were people in the audience who had attended the gig. A local musician presented Garrett with a copy of an original flyer from a 1979 gig at The Ambassador night club. The inspiring evening traced Garrett'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. He spoke about the importance of his family - he once drove home to the Southern Highlands after a gig in Cessnock so he could be there when his three daughters woke up. Garrett is someone who is always in motion and he said he doesn't live with regret. He also hinted that if the circumstances were right, Midnight Oil would consider performing again. "Let's just hope it doesn't require an earthquake or tsunami," quipped Milsom.

Thanks to City Hall staff, Festival volunteers, Scion Audio, photographer Chris Patterson @Intervision, and Allen & Unwin. 

Newcastle Writers Festival is


Magda Szubanski in Conversation - 10 October

The wonderful Magda Szubanski entertained a full house on Saturday night at a special out-of-festival event at Watt Street ARC. Newcastle Writers Festival director Rosemarie Milsom spoke to Magda about her compelling memoir Reckoning, in which she explores her father's Polish history and details the long and painful process of coming to terms with her sexuality. She was serious, hilarious, and very warm. Magda even performed her unique version of Irish dancing - from the waist up - and revealed she had been drunk-texted by Shane Warne. What a night! Thank you to the lovely Festival volunteers, MacLean's Booksellers, Scion Audio, Text Publishing and photographer Simone De Peak.


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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