Australia’s First Nations Writers Festival 2024 Unveils International Guest Speakers

Australia's First Nations Writers Festival 2024 Unveils International Guest Speakers

The Australia’s First Nations Writers Festival 2024, slated for May 24-25 in Townsville, has announced its lineup of esteemed international guest speakers, promising an enriching and diverse experience for attendees. Australia’s First Nations Writers Festival 2024 Unveils International Guest Speakers

Among the VIP guests are Peter Rockford Espiritu, Artistic Director of Hawaii’s Tau Dance Theatre and Disney consultant; Monty Soutar, Māori historian and author of the acclaimed Kawai book series; Andri Snaer Magnason, Icelandic author, documentary maker, and climate change campaigner; and Laben Sakale John, Papua New Guinean contemporary artist.

As a registered charity, the festival aims to uncover Indigenous narratives across the Pacific while providing emerging authors with opportunities to win cash prizes and publish their works.

Hawaiian cultural icon, Peter Rockford Espiritu, known for his advisory role with Disney on the “A Tale of Moana” stage show, expressed his excitement about hosting the event. “I am humbled and proud to celebrate the vibrant, resilient, and relevant stories of the Pacific Peoples and share them with our global village,” he said.

Monty Soutar, whose epic novel Kawai delves into the complexities of Māori culture in pre-colonial New Zealand, looks forward to seeing more Indigenous writers draw inspiration from oral traditions for their fictional works. “I’m eager to hear from a diverse range of writers, meet people from other cultures, and share my own experience of writing the bestselling New Zealand novel of 2022,” he said.

Offering his unique perspective, Icelandic author Andri Snaer Magnason, author of On Time and Water, which addresses climate change, brings a crucial discussion to the table. Festival Founder Anna Borzi AM highlighted the relevance of Magnason’s work to ocean cultures, emphasizing his insights into environmental myths, facts, and lived experiences.

Acclaimed abstract artist Laben Sakale John, from Papua New Guinea, known for his works that honor PNG culture, will also share his perspective at the event. Borzi expressed excitement about the lineup, noting that each speaker is a First Nations leader in their home country and an advocate for Indigenous rights.

The First Nations Writers Festival will not only announce this year’s award winners but also launch the books of last year’s winners, John W. Kuri and Paul Puri Nii, both from Papua New Guinea. Borzi encouraged attendees not to miss the opportunity to meet and hear from bestselling authors and emerging talents from the Greater Pacific. “Grab a book, and get it signed!” she urged.

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