This Festival highlight brings together five celebrated figures in contemporary poetry and storytelling. It features readings from New Zealand’s viral poet Hera Lindsay Bird, spoken word poet Ivan Coyote, Britain’s first female Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, prize-winning Yankunytjatjara/Kokatha poet Ali Cobby Eckermann, and New York Times bestselling author and spoken word poet Rupi Kaur. Don’t miss this line-up of international poetry’s most exciting voices, who demonstrate the power of poetry in the contemporary age. With Miles Merrill.

Rupi Kaur and Ivan Coyote supported by the Consulate General of Canada, Sydney

Carol Ann Duffy (International)

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Carol Ann Duffy is a Scottish poet and playwright. She was appointed Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom in 2009 and was the first woman, the first Scot, and the first openly LGBTQI-identifying person to hold this position in its almost 350 year history. She is the creative director and professor of contemporary poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University.  Duffy has written for all ages, and her poetry has received awards including the Whitbread, Forward and T. S. Eliot Prizes, and the Lannan and the E. M. Forster Prize. Her works include The World’s Wife and Rapture. Her 2011 collection, The Bees, won the Costa Poetry Award, and in 2012 she won the PEN Pinter Prize. Her recent theatre work includes Everyman. Duffy received a DBE in the 2015 New Year Honours list for services to poetry.

Ivan Coyote (International)

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Ivan Coyote is the award-winning author of eleven books, the creator of four short films, and has released three albums that combine storytelling with music. Ivan is a seasoned stage performer and long-time road dog, and over the last two decades has become an audience favourite at storytelling, writers, film, poetry, and folk music festivals from Anchorage to Amsterdam to Australia.

Ivan often grapples with the complex and intensely personal issues of gender identity in their work, as well as topics such as family, class, social justice and queer liberation, but always with a generous heart, a quick wit, and the nuanced and finely-honed timing of a gifted raconteur. Ivan’s eleventh book is Tomboy Survival Guide and recently was awarded a Stonewall Honor Book Award by the American Library Association, and was long-listed for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction.

Ali Cobby Eckermann (Australian)

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Ali Cobby Eckermann was awarded the Windham-Campbell Prize from Yale University in 2017. Ali presented at the WORD Festival in Christchurch NZ and an Australian Aesthetics Keynote at Berkeley in 2016. Inside My Mother is her latest collection of poems and published by Giramondo in 2015. In 2014 Ali was the first Aboriginal Australian author to attend the International Writing Program in Iowa USA and presented at the Jaipur Literature Festival in Rajasthan India.

Hera Lindsay Bird (International)

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Hera Lindsay Bird is a poet and bookseller from Wellington. Her self-titled and semi-autobiographical book of poetry Hera Lindsay Bird has earned her a cult status for her ‘smart, sassy and explicit takes on everything from female sexuality to Friends’ (The Guardian). In particular, her poem Keats is Dead so Fuck me From Behind hit a particular nerve with readers, and went viral. Her work has been published by The Toast, The Hairpin and has been included in Best New Zealand Poems.

Rupi Kaur (International)

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Rupi Kaur, Toronto-based poet, multimedia artist, and spoken word performer, began her career sharing poems at poetry readings and online. Her poetry and prose collection, Milk and Honey, is a #1 New York Times bestseller, and sold one million copies. Her new collection will be published in September. Rupi often uses Instagram to publish new work, and gained support for her photoseries to destigmatise the taboos around menstruation.

Miles Merrill (Australian)

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Performing writer, Miles Merrill brought poetry slams to Australia from his home-town, Chicago. He is now the driving force for spoken-word programs and projects in Australia. Miles tours internationally with artists like Saul Williams and Shane Koyczan. He has hosted an ABC TV special on poetry slams, wrote and directed a show in Sydney Festival, performed solo at Sydney Opera House and created spoken-word festivals – Night Words and Story-Fest. Merrill directs the literary arts organisation Word Travels and is founder of the international performing writers' program, the Australian Poetry Slam. He publishes text, video and audio but is best live.