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The first Sydney iteration of the Feminist Writers Festival (FWF) will be held from Nov 1-3 in collaboration with the UTS Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion. The three day event will explore the theme “Rewriting The Story” through a series of panels and workshops on subjects including activism, fiction and intersectional lives of women. FWF Chair, Foong Ling Kong says that despite the name, the festival will appeal to a broad audience. 

“From previous festivals and events around the country, we know readers are always on the lookout for new writers, and a festival is a perfect place in which to listen, engage and look out for new voices.”

With regard to what defines a “feminist writer”, Foong Ling believes that in a sense “every female writer is a feminist writer, since the very act of writing is so often an act of resistance, a writing back to reclaim our stories, or to bring into question issues of power.” 

In putting together the program, Foong Ling says they wanted to ensure diversity in the program and showcase works that reflect a range of styles, genre, voice while also remaining committed to feminist identity. All the selected writers “are provocative and utterly committed to changing the landscape of the public conversation, to discussing ideas that go towards creating actual social change,” says Foong Ling.

The FWF aims to provide practical tools, be a call to arms and to build on the work done by other feminists, speaking to a current social climate that is humid with discussion around misogyny, abuse, equal pay and buoyed by groundswell movements:

“There is a tremendous boldness to recently published writing by women, thanks to global political developments and activism, and we hope we have captured some of that fighting spirit and diversity in the programming.”

Since Mary Wollstonecraft first penned A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), feminist writing and ideas have evolved and shifted – but also fundamentally remained constant. The FWF embodies and celebrates the united voice of feminist writers across time and superficial borders. 

“[…] the wonderful thing about a festival such as this is how it opens up worlds and affords readers the opportunities to build new libraries of books by writers they may not have encountered before. Social mores change, writing styles change, but our feminist concerns are universal: equality, a commitment to social justice, resistance,” says Foong Ling. “[…] we hope the festival gives everyone a boost to keep talking, keep participating and keep resisting. Organised mischief needs all the conscripts it can get.”

Nov 1−3. University of Technology, Sydney. For more info: www.feministwritersfestival.com

By Rita Bratovich.