Explore upcoming events

SWF Opening Night: Jazz to the sound of three Anns

True. The best writers you have ever met were at kebab shops. Redfern Station hums with departing trains. Turn into Wilson St, which shares the last name of your straight-outta-high school-ex-boyfriend. You reckon that’s why the pavements are drenched in darkness and shadows from overgrown gutter foliage. Don’t let night make you feel so small. Wilson had the same affect – son of an All-American-Boy pastor and a teacher whose family arrived on the first settler fleet. Winnie, what does that say about you since you actuals dated him? Forgive your self-hating days already. Pālangi ex = safety check, an app that will automatically call emergency services if you don’t press the “Stop” button. Turn it off, you idiot… Redfern has seen enough cops. Yellow street light illuminates the entrance of Carriageworks. Remember the first time you met Mr Daniel Naysayer Nour. It was in a smokey-aired and grease-walled joint in Auburn. He might wanna talk about it (again) because it was there he cried, coming out of the closet after Christians Like Us. New Star Kebab? Winnie, if you don’t focus right now, you’ll be such a period.


Sit second row. Danny is a recovering Catholic, so confess to him immediately. Can you hear yourself telling him Opening Night is mandatory but Jazz Money is phenomenal? The word phe grazes your lips, nom caresses the roof of your mouth and enal taps against your teeth. Arrived late of course, because youse are both ethnic. Shame on you for only catching the end of Welcome.


At the podium, a grey-suited man is talking. Don’t look so rigid in your seat! Maybe he has a point about the recent Cumberland Council ban of that same-sex parenting book … Sydney Writers’ Festival is about books after all. Grey Man says he’ll never fund any Council that bans books. Well, there’s your answer: the responsive applause from over 500 people… Now let’s watch what happens when a Council bans ‘From the river to the sea.’

Festival Director, Ann Mossop, reminds everyone how good we got it – freckled fingers intertwined; adorned with silver bands. In the middle of disembodied coughs and the clash of perfumes, she crucifies Texas for banning over 5,000 books. Good on ya!

Orange hair a sunset against blue velvet. Jazz introduces themself in Wiradjuri. Remember how you first met? Istanbul in Parramatta. There was a Christmas tree made out of newspaper-stuffed kebab wrappers. They took a photo for their then fiancé (now wife). The yellow petal-puff dress they’re wearing looks so similar to that hot noon. Mohammed (Ahmad), Shirley (Le) and Hannah (Donnelly) squeezed lemon wedges over the spinach and cheese gözleme. You all shared crumbly falafel soaked in hummus and stuffed in toasted white wheat along with stringy lettuce and tomatoes… you didn’t even think twice.

Seeds take root in the ruins. Only Country lasts forever. Needles and their metaphors in a sterile IVF clinic. Making love not being enough to create life. Genocide on a phone. Images from Jazz’s upcoming collection, mark the dawn, paint inside your ears. Their rosy cheeks rise after each stanza. The very same cheeks you pressed your own to before they got up on stage – Fob kiss. You know Jazz will make a great parent – birds, bats, bees are more than enough for Opening Night.


Kebab on King. Neon dazzles until the menu pixelates on a flat screen. How sweet is the sauce and bread you reckon? Too crazy for you to request on the side? Yes. Forget it. You’re the only Islander to ever to worry about grams of added sugar. Can you sit still in this booth and listen to Danny talking about his boyfriend? You’re a word vomiter. Blurt out, "I recently got in trouble for mixing up Lebanese boyfriend with lesbian girlfriend." Just eat. Danny did you a massive favour coming tonight. Otherwise, it’ll be just you listening to Ann Patchett and Annabel Crabb discussing a cop dad and helicopter parents. Not that you don’t love having three Anns in one night! But one Winnie is just sad. Stop shaking your leg, you’ll rattle the napkin dispenser. Everyone is already looking at you pulling bits of flatbread like some mental case. Just eat. Danny wraps his blazer-padded elbow into your forearm as he Christian side-hugs you. Didn’t youse buy a Kirby plushie from Auburn Woolies after those first kebabs? He feels as comforting as one. “Eat what you can, habibty.”

Winnie Dunn is a Tongan-Australian writer and editor from Mount Druitt. She is also the General Manager of Sweatshop Literacy Movement. Winnie's debut novel is Dirt Poor Islanders.