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As the Wet season skies clear, word nerds come out to mix and mingle at Wordstorm. The NT Writers' Festival hits the Top End every two years, so clear your diaries for the jam-packed program of panels, book launches, talks and workshops.

By Tamara Howie


For the last 10 years blogger, author and photographer Mayank Austen Soofi has told the stories hidden in plain sight in Delhi.

His acclaimed blog The Delhi Walla is an honest and raw depiction of life in a city home to more than 25 million people.

“I wake up in the morning wondering, and in fear, if I’ll be able to meet stories,” he says.

“But I always do, often as soon as I step outside my house. It could be a woman sitting on the pavement, or an old door, or a young man with a strange new kind of hairstyle, or a half-ruined tomb… it could be anything, anyone.

“Everything, everyone is special and as unique in the big wide world as your fingerprint.

“What grabs my attention? Anything that affects my heart.”

Soofi is heading “down south”  to Australia for the first time as a special guest and panellist for Wordstorm, the annual NT Writers’ Festival organised by the NT Writers’ Centre.

Darwin is a long way from, and far less crowded than, his home in Delhi and Soofi says he’s excited to see what stories Darwin has to offer.

“When I look at the map, Darwin seems so remote, so out from everything I know,” he says.

“And yet I know, when I’ll be there, that it will be the centre of my world. I am looking forward to that thrill.”

Soofi will be joined by Darwin journalist and author Christopher Walsh (Crocs in the Cabinet), Buzzfeed correspondent, journalist and podcaster Kylie Stevenson, and Indonesian writer and lecturer Intan Paramaditha for a panel discussion ‘Beyond the margins of the newspaper’.

Soofi says he feels newspaper will stay relevant through intelligent presentation of how to make sense of the world, rather than breaking news.

“I think increasingly if newspaper dailies have to survive they will have to give stuff to their readers that cannot be found online initially, and can’t be created by anybody with a net connection and cell phone camera. 

“Ultimately, the newspapers will have to hire really smart people, reporters, writers, observers, with sharp minds but who are rooted enough to reach out to readers. 

“It’s like, you know, everyone can draw, or write, but only a few can really make an art out of it.”

The Wordstorm program is packed with panel discussions, book launches and special events.

Kicking off the celebrations will be a free event in the Brown’s Mart courtyard where a special guest will reveal the short list of the biennial Territory Read Book Awards.

Legendary musician and artist Tom E. Lewis will sit down with young songwriter Stevie Jean to talk about their songwriting processes with MC and fellow songwriter Sam Carmody.

Novelist Michelle De Krester will discuss her fifth novel This Life to Come over a literary brunch.

There’s plenty on for the youngest word lovers with readings and workshops for kids all weekend. 

In traditional Wordstorm style the festival will end with a comedy debate asking wordsmiths, ‘Critics: Excrement or Guardian Angels?’.


At the margins of Delhi with Mayank Austen Soofi | THU 24 MAY 2018 | 8:00pm | BROWN'S MART COURTYARD | $30| NTWC MEMBERS $25

Toplines: Song and how they were written with Tom E. Lewis and Stevie Jean | FRI 25 MAY 2018 | 7:30pm | BROWN'S MART THEATRE | $35 | NTWC MEMBERS $25

Literary brunch with Michelle De Krester | SUN 27 MAY 2018 | 10:00am to 12:00pm | WHARF ONE | $70 | NTWC MEMBER $60

Top image: Mayank Austen Soofi

Bottom image: Michelle De Krester

Thumbnail and header image: Pennyrose Wiggins, 'Kingswood Country' (detail), 2017, oil and acrylic on found car boot, 131 x 93cm

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