2008 was the first year of the Rudd Government, and the year Obama triumphed. October brought us the global financial crisis and a world irrevocably changed. This Festival provided the space for writers and readers from all over the world to gather at a time of social turmoil, but also of great hope and potential.
The 2009 program was as wide ranging as ever. There was a host of events exploring ideas that stem from the recent political and social changes that dominate this moment. Obama’s election brings into play those lofty ideals of hope and optimism, citizenship, volunteerism and community engagement. The central values of empathy, compassion and responsibility that dominated his campaign infiltrate this program. The gaze has shifted inwards, with the increased focus on connectedness leading to an exploration familial and social bonds.
The art of storytelling in fine fiction and poetry was celebrated across all forms. Political and environmental issues were debated, together with globalisation and current affairs. Reportage was a major theme, with many events exploring the modes in which we receive information. Music featured strongly, with New Yorker critic Alex Ross as a very special festival guest and Kazuo Ishiguro spoke from London about his beautiful quintet, Nocturne. There was a focus on scriptwriting and film, with many fine writers representing this genre. Crime in fact and fiction also features prominently.
It’s been a great pleasure to curate this Festival. My deepest thanks to all those involved in the 2009 event, from those behind the scenes – the staff, Board and supporters – to the writers themselves. Particular thanks go to Premier Nathan Rees for the generous support that has enabled the Festival’s ongoing use of Pier 2/3.
Artistic Director and Chief Executive