Iconic literary festival renowned for relaxed, coastal vibe returns

The Byron Writers Festival returns with the theme of 'Radical Hope'.

Byron Writers Festival 2022 (26-28 August) has revealed an inspiring program of celebrated authors as well as powerful new voices to mark its welcome return after a two-year hiatus. Themed ‘Radical Hope’, Byron Writers Festival 2022 will feature more than 140 writers and thinkers gathering together at the Festival’s beautiful beachside location adjacent to Elements of Byron Resort, Byron Bay, Bundjalung country. The festival also offers writers’ workshops, an engaging program for children and several feature and satellite events in venues across the Northern Rivers region.  

In curating the program, incoming Artistic Director Zoë Pollock reflected on the theme of ‘Radical Hope’ in the wake of fires, pandemic and floods. 

‘Radical hope imagines a future goodness that transcends our current reality. It is a provocation to seek and create a new world in the face of incredibly challenging circumstances. Radical hope is a denial and refusal of cultural destruction and a determination to build a new culture for a changed environment.

‘At this year’s festival you will hear from social and environmental experts on how we can tackle the challenge that is climate change. You will be uplifted by listening to our most gifted storytellers explaining how they celebrate the human condition and render our experiences so magnificently on the page. You will meet talented emerging and established writers who are challenging the status quo. In hearing and engaging with these ideas you are playing your part in making the world anew. I am very much looking forward to welcoming you.’

Radical hope will be front and centre in discussions about climate change and how we can address it with real world solutions. Leading thinkers will come together at the festival to share their visions of a greener future and how to get there. These include A.C. Grayling, Damon Gameau, Bruce Pascoe, Joëlle Gergis, Delia Falconer, Marian Wilkinson, Claire O’Rourke, Tim Hollo, Matthew Evans, Mia Thom and inventor, engineer and author of The Big Switch: Australia’s Electric Future Saul Griffith. 

‘There are strong reasons to believe that we might be about to launch the most transformative movement in history – a movement that redefines our extractive relationship with the planet, lightens our footprint and improves our lives. It might just be the luckiest time, in the luckiest country,’ says Griffith.

There is also space for local reflections on the devastation of recent events, the power of storytelling on the long road to recovery, and hearing from those who have come through the 2019-20 bushfires, with Sunday’s program particularly focused on community resilience and healing.

Radical hope peppers the many conversations at the festival celebrating First Nations knowledge and voices, such as ‘First Nations Science’ with astronomers Krystal De Napoli, Karlie Noon and DeadlyScience founder Corey Tutt, ‘Indigenous Healing’ with Judy Atkinson, Paul Callaghan and Marcia Langton and ‘Learning from Country’ with Bruce Pascoe.

Finally, radical hope is about celebrating the human condition and our collective urge to fight for what we love, so there are plenty of uplifting conversations to feed your soul. Hear from Julia Baird and Indira Naidoo on the power of nature to restore and Ben Quilty and Fiona Foley on the importance of ‘Radical Art’. Trent Dalton will share his Love Stories and you can get your hands dirty in the world of gardening with Costa Georgiadis and Matthew Evans.

Immerse yourself in the poetry of Evelyn Araluen, Anne-Marie Te Whiu, Thando Sibanda and Sarah Holland Batt, and be inspired by the incredible life stories of Aaron Fa’aoso, Akuch Akuol Anyieth, Amani Haydar and Chloe Hooper, who all offer extraordinary examples of living with great strength.

‘If your love of life is faltering, a weed will certainly set you straight… Their domain in the city may be within the cracks, but cracks are also how the light gets in.’ Indira Naidoo from The Space Between the Stars

To view the full program and buy tickets, visit byronwritersfestival.com/festival

Thuy On is Reviews Editor of ArtsHub and an arts journalist, critic and poet who’s written for a range of publications including The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, Sydney Review of Books, The Australian, The Age/SMH and Australian Book Review. She was the books editor of The Big issue for 8 years. Her first book, a collection of poetry called Turbulence, came out in 2020 and was published by University of Western Australia Press (UWAP). Her next collection, Decadence, was published in July 2022, also by UWAP. Twitter: @thuy_on