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Lovers of the written and spoken word are in for a treat this month, as the NT Writers Festival (NTWF) returns to Larrakia Country with a huge four-day program centred around the 2024 theme ‘reverberations’.

By Tierney White

Established in 1999, the NTWF has grown over the years to deliver an annual program complete with thought-provoking discussions, immersive events and powerful performances that celebrate language, culture and story shaped by place.

Held annually, the festival alternates between Darwin and Alice Springs, giving folks across the Territory the chance to engage with the festival and immerse themselves in the unique landscapes, culture and history on which the festival is delivered. This year is Darwin’s turn, as NTWF returns to the gorgeous seaside setting on the lawns of the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT).

The 2024 theme allows writers and audiences to consider the impacts of their actions on others and to reflect upon their ongoing consequences. It invites participants to view the world relationally, and to understand how things may be interconnected. It also means listening to the echoes of the past to help imagine a better future.

Festival Director Rita Horanyi says the theme offers a chance to both reflect and move forward.

“This year’s festival theme is a timely one, asking us to pay attention to the reverberations of the past, thereby helping us to understand the present moment,” she says.

“Writers’ festivals are places where words reverberate – ideas are exchanged, stories are shared, perspectives aired. The words we hear at a writers’ festival can echo in our minds long after the sessions have ended, connecting and inspiring us.”

The 2024 program was developed with assistance from NTWF Advisory Committee members made up of Marie Munkara, Mililma May, Sally Bothroyd, Penny Drysdale, Kylie Stevenson, Tisha Tejaya, and Bernadette Ryan.

Events this year are curated to explore both collective and personal memories from the past. Historians and artists come together at Fannie Bay Gaol to share some of the stories that comprise the history of the iconic site, whilst local historians Richard Creswick and Derek Pugh OAM are joined by Jared Archibald, Curator of Territory History at MAGNT, to discuss their new oral history, Tracy – 50 Years, 50 Stories, ahead of the 50th anniversary of Cyclone Tracy in December.

As you recognise the past, you’re also invited to consider the future. Participate in panels that address the future of storytelling and how fiction can help reimagine the world, or take part in workshops that invite you to write letters to future generations. Young minds are also considered, with a specially curated children’s program.

Another exciting event, Ripple Effects – Stories for the Ages, features a special performance by the Ngarukuruwala Women’s Group from Tiwi Islands, tunes by Kuya James, a live performance of a graphic novel, plus readings from an exciting line-up of artists, with videography by Sean Healy (Jean Poole).

In a festival first, Djapu poet, performer and spoken word artist Melanie Mununggurr has taken the reins as the festival’s First Nations Guest Curator, curating two exciting events – First Nations Orators and The Juggle is Real – that amplifies the voices of First Nations artists and artists of colour.

There’s so much to sink your teeth into in this program, with history to acknowledge, ideas to discuss and futures to consider. Let the words, sounds and messages of the 2024 NTWF reverberate through you.

NT Writers Festival

Header: William Carroll
Thumb & inset: Nicholas Goldhurst

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