Read a Blak Book Lately? Try at Blak And Bright: First Nations Literary Festival

Delivered at the tail end of The 2019 Melbourne Writers Festival, the second Victorian Indigenous Literary Festival Blak & Bright, with many free sessions from over 60 First Nations storytellers covering all genres – from songs to essays, oral stories to epic novels, plays to poetry, and politics. This is a chance to hear some of this country’s best writers and thinkers discuss critical issues, and offers up the Who’s Who of contemporary indigenous cultural icons and figureheads. The Festival Directors believe Blak writing is for everybody. 

Key figures Lidia Thorpe, Tarneen Onus, artists, and elders are all here having a yarn about all that’s important to our First Nations people today. Held across four days, spanning a range of venues across the city, including Enterprize Park, The Koorie Heritage Trust, Trades Hall, Melbourne Museum, VCA’s Grant Street Theatre, and some of the MWF precinct, hear talks on Treaty and Changing The DateTreaty Now Talk

Join famed elder and eminent blaktivist, Dr. Gary Foley, alongside members of the Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance[WAR] present curated, impassioned talks at the Yung Tent Embassy beside the Old Melbourne Gaol. Gary Foley Tent Embassy

In a Festival exclusive, award-winning fiction writer, activist and academic, Tony Birch shares a keynote conversation on personal grief and loss on country in Smoke Whispers Sorry. Educator and SBS TV’s Marngrook Footy Show anchor Shelly Ware co-hosts Charcoal Lane’s literati dinner where Stan Yarramunua shares his biography, A Man Called Yarra. With a special performance from Wiradjuri Soprano Shauntai Batzke, this event raises funds for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.  

 In a talk about a talk on Aboriginal philosophies and healing,indigenous men’s mentor and psychologist Dr Gregory Phillips shares his men’s healing practice while Victoria Grieve-Williams speaks to the concept of Makarrata, a peacemaking process after a conflict which begins with truth-telling as well as the intrinsic generosity of Aboriginal culture and Aboriginal spirituality.Aboriginal Healing

Take a guided walk through country down Birrarung River  hear traditional stories read to children, children’s book writers and illustrators describe their art, and elders storytelling round the campfire. Be lucky enough to watch five plays in day across the final Sunday at Blak Mama which showcases Coconut Woman by Maryanne Sam, Flashblaks by Jacob Boheme, Cottagers andIndians by Drew Hayden Taylor, MiWi 3027 by Glenn Shea and Swim by Ellen van Neerven.

Add to this Sistas Are Doin’ It about women’s creative practice, Yung, Blak and Bold on young people’s writing, a return to indigenous language, and the First Nations Australia Writers Network’s Pitch Blak Breakfast works-in-progress pitch to industry experts. 

author Tony Birch

It’s a blak fest open forum to be had which offers easy access to poetry readings, writing masterclasses, panels, sacred dance and music at DRMNGNOW, and spoken word at closing event The Bogong

BB MWF dance event

Learn about indigenous ways of being, philosophy, their Dreaming, their modern zeitgeist, and join in the celebration. Dip your toe in, get educated and aware, and follow their stories as indigenous artists speak, talk, explain, explore, and share. 

Welcome to their literary country. 
Blak N Bright Logo

– Sarah Wallace

is the Theatre Specialist for The Plus Ones, Melbourne.  A performing arts and English literature graduate of VCA, UOM and Deakin, she has a flair for bold, non-traditional performance platforms. An active contributor to The Melbourne Shakespeare Society, on the street, or in the box seat, she is always looking for quality works that push the envelope.

First Nations Literary festival: Blak & Bright runs 5-8 September at a range of venues in inner Melbourne -The Wheeler Centre, Melbourne Museum, Kathryn Syme Building, RMIT University, VCA Grant Street theatre, and others. Most events FREE with bookings essential- Book tickets here.  

Venues are accessible. Suitable for all ages. 

Check out the full Program, and Blak & Bright updates here.

Blak & Bright acknowledges the Kulin Nations, on whose traditional lands this Festival takes place.

Disclaimer: The Plus Ones were the guests of Prue Bassett Publicity.