Brisbane Writers Festival 2022 Program Launch
As the newly-appointed vice-regal Patron of Brisbane Writers Festival, I am delighted to be with you for this afternoon’s program launch – and I’m especially pleased to have been invited to accept the role of patron in this, the Festival’s landmark sixtieth anniversary year.
It is particularly fitting for us to be celebrating here on Queensland Terrace. This marvellous space reminds us of the central importance of libraries, books and writing to our lives and communities, but, with its face open to the elements, the Terrace is also a reminder that this peninsula of the mighty Maiwar River, was a place where story-tellers gathered for many millenia before books and writing arrived on these shores.
The rich stories of our First Nations peoples continued to be told in the early days of European settlement, but at the same time, the first Queensland-born writers began to emerge – people like Rosa Campbell Praed.
Born in Moreton Bay in 1851, Rosa went on to write poetry, short stories, an autobiography and a staggering total of 39 novels on her way to becoming the first Australian novelist to achieve a significant international reputation.
Many other writers, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, have since made their mark on our State’s literary history, thanks in no small part to the farsighted women and men who organised the in augural Warana Writers’ Convention back in 1962.
That program of just six sessions had to compete with the extravaganza of Warana’s two-hour street parade, water ski shows and marching girls! But today, the Festival can confidently hold its own as a diverse, month-long celebration of Queensland’s cultural life and can proudly claim the record as the oldest continuous writers’ festival in Australia.
As patron, it is very pleasing to note that assured funding to 2025 has enabled the Festival to engage five curators for this special anniversary event. That funding, and the generous support of sponsors and donors, will also support the focus on emerging and established writers from Aotearoa-New Zealand and Pasifika, as well as the partnership with Brisbane Street Art Festival, and the exciting hybrid of in-person and online programming which was begun last year.
With so many writers, thinkers and artists in town and online in May, I am confident that the 2022 Festival will not only give us robust, stimulating discussion but will act as a reminder of the importance of telling local stories and encouraging the next generation of readers and writers.
It now gives me great pleasure to officially launch the 2022 sixtieth anniversary Brisbane Writers Festival.