Reverberations through time and place

This year’s NT Writers Festival asks us to consider causality and effect, and the impact of our actions on others locally and globally.
NT Writers Festival. Image is a group of people standing outside with the sun coming through the trees and observing a smoking ceremony.

The four-day NT Writers Festival (NTWF) takes place from 27-30 June 2024.

Returning as Artistic Director for the third year running, Rita Horanyi is enthusiastic about the happy marriage between time and place. ‘This year’s Festival is back in lush Larrakia Country in the middle of the Dry season. So, it’s beautiful, perfect weather. We will celebrate stories and literature on the front lawns of the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) in Darwin. As it’s an outdoor festival, people get to really make the most of the beautiful tropical environment at this time of year. There will be marquees and events en plein air too.

‘As always, we really try and program in a way that takes into consideration where we are. So, we’re running a couple of special walking workshops that take people on journeys through different environments, and that will help them see this place in a different light,’ she tells ArtsHub.

The theme for this year’s NT Writers Festival is ‘Reverberations’. Horanyi says she’s always been drawn to ideas of the past lingering in the present. ‘I’m first generation Australian (my family’s from Hungary), so I’ve grown up with the idea of events and memories from the past, that I didn’t experience first-hand, still having an lingering impact. This year, with everything that’s happening in the world, the upheavals and atrocities, I’ve also been thinking of the consequences of our actions – the decisions we make and how they affect people in faraway places. The theme alludes to the way that we’re all interconnected, and how we need to consider the impacts of our behaviour on others and on future generations.’

Horanyi adds that many Festival guests and books have been programmed that specifically speak to the theme – around 38 events and 80 writers and storytellers. Although the final program won’t be released until 9 May, several notable names have already been confirmed, including Charlotte Wood, Tyson Yunkaporta Benjamin Law and (via livestream) Shankari Chandran.

 Also in the line-up will be Julia Baird, Walkley Award-winning journalist Dan Box, and First Nations novelists Julie Janson and Debra Dank. 

For those on the east coast thinking of coming over to escape the cold, Horanyi assures festivalgoers that temperatures hover just above 30 degrees in Northern Territory in June, and without any humidity as it’s the Dry season. ‘So that’s tempting, isn’t it?’ she laughs. ‘Basically for four days people can just expect glorious sunshine!’

Alongside the literary sparkle of the Festival itself, Horanyi touts other nearby attractions that visitors might consider checking out, including the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA) at MAGNT. ‘That’s another thing that this Festival works hard to do,’ she says, ‘to present some of the rich First Nations culture that exists in the NT and around the continent. June really is the perfect time to head up north and see it all.’ 

The NT Writers Festival takes place 27-30 June 2024.

Thuy On is the Reviews and Literary 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 debut, a collection of poetry called Turbulence, came out in 2020 and was released by University of Western Australia Publishing (UWAP). Her second collection, Decadence, was published in July 2022, also by UWAP. Her third book, Essence, will be published in 2025. Twitter: @thuy_on Instagram: poemsbythuy