NEXT month's Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival will continue to challenge and encourage debate in the relaxed and casual atmosphere that it is known for.
Sessions on a range of crucial topics will be held including a panel discussion on mining and nuclear energy and George Negus in conversation with David Marr exploring political leadership.
Another highlight of this year's festival will be a celebration of women writers and writing in Australia.
"Our celebration of women writers and writing is timely given the fierce debate regarding the underrepresentation of women writers in literary awards," the festival's program manager, Annette Marfording, said.
"We are very pleased to have Sophie Cunningham, Chair of the Australia Council's Literature Board as a festival guest and she will host a special session celebrating the Stella Prize, the newly created prize for women writers."
In compiling the remainder of this year's program, Ms Marfording said that in addition to drawing attention to the gender imbalances in literary culture, there were a number of other critical issues that also needed debate.
"Now in its third year, our unique Festival continues to go from strength to strength and the 2013 program will offer something for everyone interested in reading and ideas with panels and forums covering topics such as the decline of political standards, mining, nuclear energy and native title," she said.
Program highlights include:
- Historical Events through the Lens of Fiction and Non-fiction with Bill Gammage, Drusilla Modjeska and Belinda Castles. Chair: Venero Armanno;
- Political Leadership: Personality or Policy? George Negus in conversation with David Marr;
- The Biggest Estate on Earth Bill Gammage talks to John Bennett about writing history and his multi-award winning book on how Aborigines made the Australian landscape;
- Dangerous Activities: Mining and Nuclear Energy with Paul Cleary, senior writer with the Australian, researcher in public policy at the Australian National University and author of Mine-field, The Men Who Came Out of the Ground and Too Much Luck: The Mining Boom and Australia's Future, Sharyn Munro, author of Rich Land, Wasteland - how coal is killing Australia which arose from her empathy with the people and places of the Hunter Valley being devastated from runaway open-cut coalmining, and former diplomat, Richard Broinowski Chair: George Negus;
- How to get nonfiction published in literary journals with Jessie Cole, Mette Jakobsen and Romy Ash. Chair: Sophie Cunningham;
- Anglo-Saxon Writers' Portraits of Aboriginal People with Melissa Lucashenko in conversation with Jeanine Leane;
- The art of writing non-fiction with David Marr and Drusilla Modjeska (Contributing chair: Stephanie Dowrick); and
- Native Title in Fiction and Non-fiction with Melissa Lucashenko and Patti Miller (Chair: Annette Marfording)
Dorrigo will also host two events:
- All you've ever wanted to know about mining and its impact at the Dorrigo Hall, 7pm Thursday 21 March, with Paul Cleary and Sharyn Munro; and
- Bill Gammage, author of the multi-award winning The Biggest Estate on Earth, on how Aboriginal people made the Australian landscape at the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre, Friday 22 March at 10.15am.
The Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival takes place in Bellingen, Dorrigo and Coffs Harbour from March 22 to 24.
To purchase day and weekend passes, and for full program details and author biographies, go to www.bellingenwritersfestival.com.au
Tickets are also available in person or by telephone from Roots Records, 2/52 Hyde Street, Bellingen, phone 6655 2159.