18 July 2018
This year’s WORD Christchurch Festival (29 August – 2 September) promises to be filled with adventurous ideas and amazing stories from Aotearoa and abroad.
The biennial festival has an ‘adventurous’ theme, with a Scottish flavour and the spirit of 125 years of women’s suffrage running through it, with more than 120 writers and speakers taking part in nearly 100 events.
WORD Christchurch programme director, Rachael King, said this year is about audiences and readers taking the plunge and inviting a bit of adventure into their lives.
“While this festival showcases plenty of beloved names in books, we hope people will seek out the unusual and the informative and try something new.
“Every writer has been carefully selected not just for their great work, but because in person they are guaranteed to delight, entertain, provoke thought and open hearts and minds,” King said.
Headliners include Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, Scottish writers Shaun Bythell (The Diary of a Bookseller) and Denise Mina, and top international thriller writer A. J. Finn.
Fans of politics won’t want to miss an evening with American journalist David Neiwertdiscussing the rise of America’s alt-right, or an insight into Islam from former radical Ed Husain.
British YouTube poetry star Hollie McNish is sure to delight as will British YA author and LGBTQI+ activist Juno Dawson, American science fiction writer Ted Chiang and Australian rapper and poet Omar Musa.
A feature of this year’s festival is the number of intimate events that put the audience up close and personal with writers, including the New Regent Street pop-up festival. It’s not often you get to share your favourite author with just a handful of friends and fans.
Particularly pertinent to the garden city, British author and Eden Project trustee Jonathan Droriwill look at our relationship with trees, Irish physicist-turned-science-communicator Laurie Winkless looks at the science of city-building, and Chessie Henry appears on stage with her father Dr Chris Henry to share stories of earthquakes and family.
Christchurch poet Tusiata Avia has curated three sessions and a workshop, drawing on her friendships with writers and creatives of colour from cis and LGBTQI+ communities, featuringVictor Rodger, Poet Laureate Selina Tusitala Marsh and American activist Sonya Renee Tayloralongside Pati Solomona Tyrell and Manu Vaeatangitau from FAFSWAG, the skyrocketing collective of queer indigenous creatives.
Other New Zealand guests include poets Hera Lindsay Bird and Chris Tse; novelists Tina Makereti, Lloyd Jones, Catherine Chidgey and Pip Adam; historian Dame Anne Salmond, Michele A’Court and Tom Scott.
The festival’s nod to Kate Sheppard kicks off with a panel of extraordinary women, including Georgina Beyer and Kim Hill, discussing how far we have come and how far we have to go in the 125 year fight for gender equality.
This year features more sessions than ever before that celebrate and explore Te Ao Māori, supported by a continuing partnership with Ngāi Tahu. Events include a walk through the CBD with Matapopore Charitable Trust’s Joseph Hullen, and a panel on the current discussions around te reo Māori.
More than a quarter of events are free to the public, and there is plenty for children and families, with beloved authors Stacy Gregg, Barbara Else, Gavin Bishop, and Nanogirl, Michelle Dickinson.
The WORD Christchurch Festival programme launched at 5.30pm Tuesday 5 July at The Piano.
A full calendar of events and details of all the featured NZ and international authors is available on the website: wordchristchurch.co.nz