2022 National Young Writers Festival Wrap-Up
The National Young Writers Festival is an annual gathering of Australia’s young and talented artists. Held in Newcastle NSW as well as digitally, the festival showcases a variety of storytelling forms including poetry, screenwriting, zines, editing, music, and journalism, across several presentations such as a panels, workshops, readings, and performances.
NYWF has run for twenty-five years, and LoveOzYA’s Communications Director, Bianca Breen, and Visual Production Champion, Julia Faragher, were artists at this year’s festival.
Bianca reports on the experience.
Photo by Julia Faragher
With me being from Perth and Julia from Canberra, travelling to Newcastle for a writers’ festival was a big and exciting event. Newcastle itself is a buzzing beachside hub of tourists, locals, and festival goers – there was nothing more exciting than seeing someone wearing a bright yellow lanyard and feeling that instant hey we’re part of the same festival connection.
This year’s theme was Going Forward, Looking Back, and the festival met it by bringing people together after the isolation of the last few years, and the hybrid delivery ensured something was available for everyone, no matter where you were from.
While there was so much to see and do at the festival, we were most excited for the YA events as well as the Younger Young Writers Program, which aims to help kickstart and develop your writing career. The #LoveOzYA authors in the program, Rhiannon Wilde, Alison Evans, Alice Boyle, Nevo Zisin, and Jes Layton, delivered moving, inspiring, and at times hilarious presentations.
One of the highlights of the festival for me was Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Is there a better way to start a Sunday morning than talking about queer YA? #LoveOzYA’s Julia moderated the panel, chatting all things queer YA with Rhiannon Wilde and Alison Evans. The discussion was so wholesome and highlighted the importance of young readers seeing themselves reflected in stories. Rhiannon further discussed her debut, HENRY HAMLET’S HEART in Mizz Congeniality, which was an enlightening and inspiring talk about the process of writing and how to wade through rejection as a creator. Julia also appeared on I Like Your Shoelaces, a panel about fandoms and your own weird corner of the internet, and one I was particularly excited about watching! Anyone else miss Tumblr?
Photo by Bianca Breen
#LoveOzYA itself had an event all on its own: #LoveOzYA: More Than Just a Hashtag. Myself, Alison Evans and Jess Saunders discussed the Australian YA literary community, including what it’s all about for the new family members, and how to get involved. We also spoke about online communities as a whole and what social media can do for your writing.
You can also catch Alice Boyle’s event online, Health Messaging and Social Change PSAs: What should we know? As reflected in her debut and Text Prize winning novel, DANCING BAREFOOT, Alice discusses positive relationships with the body and sexuality.
In case you weren’t aware, Alison, along with fellow author Nevo Zisin, host a regular writing group for gender diverse writers. During the festival, these writers shared their work in the Trans and Gender Diverse Writers Showcase. These works were so heartfelt and beautiful, and we at #LoveOzYA are so excited for this next generation of young and diverse storytellers. We were also so excited to sit in on the announcement of the 2022 Hachette Australia Prize for Young Writers. The shortlisted works were showcased in readings, before the winners of each category – fiction, non-fiction, and poetry – were announced. Congratulations everyone!
Hearing artists read their own works was also a highlight for me. Authors Nevo Zisin, Jes Layton, and Alison Evans each read their works to a captivated crowd over several events, and a few artists put on their own impromptu late night reading, during which we gathered on the balcony of a bar overlooking Newcastle’s busy streets, and laughed.
Photo by Julia Faragher
The National Young Writers Festival is a wonderful opportunity for Australian artists to learn, connect, teach, inspire, and create. The #LoveOzYA team highly recommends participation either as a panellist or participant – here’s to more Australian YA events in the future!