Inaugural Friends’ Writers Festival: ‘Quiet Roar’

Posted on June 2, 2022

The Festival:

Why a writers festival? Why not?

The Friends’ School English Faculty has a long tradition of creating connections with the wider community of writers that exist both locally and nationally.

The current English Faculty’s annual Writer-in-Residence Program, in which a single writer spends a week with our student cohort, has meant Friends’ students have had the privilege of learning from writers such as John Marsden, Cate Kennedy, Omar Musa, Arnold Zabel, Manal Younus, Carmel Bird, Heather Rose, Sam George-Allen, Lenny Bartulin and Lian Tanner.

The 2022 Friends’ Writers Festival was an additional opportunity for our students to continue to work with industry professionals and for the School to celebrate writers and writing in a different way.

In fact, a writers festival at Friends’ is not a new thing; we simply chose to revive an older tradition this year as we continue to find ways to facilitate the development of student voices and to realise the School’s concepts and values: acceptance of diversity, fostering of community, the creation of peace and the development of a global perspective.

The Theme:

The theme for the 2022 Friends’ Writers Festival was ‘Quiet Roar’.

Being heard is about agency and empowerment.

When a multiplicity of voices is given an equitable hearing, stories change, stories emerge; perspectives change

‘Quiet Roar’ puts a spotlight on writers whose words make some noise, on unsung (or usually unheard, or just beginning to be heard) voices; a spotlight on issues that need to be examined; on ways of telling stories that are moving from the margins to the mainstream; a spotlight on voices that will no longer remain quiet.

The Guest Writers:

Joshua Santospirito writer and multimedia artist living in nipaluna on palawa land, lutruwita (Tasmania), whose work often focuses on identity and modern Australia. His writing, comics and illustrations have appeared in The Monthly, Island Magazine, Meanjin and The Suburban Review. His 2013 graphic novel The Long Weekend in Alice Springs is now its fourth print. Joshua’s graphic novella, Swallows Part One (2015), about Italian migration in Melbourne was critically well-received, resulting in a large-scale exhibition of the art from the book at the Immigration Museum in the Old Customs House, Melbourne. Joshua ran workshop sessions about ‘Comics & Stories of Migration’, delivered a Keynote (‘The Stories that Need to be Told’) to senior secondary students and was a member of our Panel Discussion.

Emily Conolan is a writer and teacher living in Hobart who is known for her humanitarian work. She is the author of the interactive The Freedom Finders novels for young readers which explore the migrant experience. In 2011 she started an organisation called Tasmanian Asylum Seeker Support (TASS), which led to the creation of the award-winning Tasmanian documentary, Mary Meets Mohammad (2013). Emily is passionate about facilitating new voices in writing and empowering others to tell their stories. Emily ran workshop sessions with Year 6 students in ‘Spoken Word Performance: Changing Hearts & Minds’ and delivered a Keynote to Year 10 students titled, ‘The Stories that Need to be Told.’

Hani Abdeli is a Somalian-born journalism student, writer and spoken word performer based in the country of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation in Sydney. Hani was forced to leave her home country and came to Australia in 2014, seeking protection. Her first book of 43 poems, I will rise (published by Writing Through Fences in 2016), was written during her 11 months in immigration detention and explores how the power of our collective voices can help shape the world to be a better place. She is an honorary member of PEN International and Ambassador for the Refugee Advice and Casework Service. Hani would have run workshops with Emily Conolan and co-presented the Keynote to Year 10s with Emily but was unable to attend the festival at the last minute. We hope to work with her in the future.

Lenny Bartulin is a Tasmanian writer, author of the Jack Susko Mystery series and of historical novels Infamy (longlisted for the 2015 Tasmanian Premiere’s Literary Awards, the Tasmania Book Prize and the Margaret Scott Prize) and Fortune. His poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous publications including HEAT, Meanjin and Island Magazine. Lenny is working on his latest novel, also set in Tasmania. His work is part of that growing sub-genre of Tasmanian Literature, and reflects an emerging interest in Tasmanian voices. Lenny was our writer-in-residence in 2021. Lenny ran sessions titled ‘Tasmanian Places, Tasmanian Voices’ with senior secondary students.

Geordie Williamson is a writer, editor and critic: ‘Publisher-at-Large’ of Pan Macmillan’s Picador imprint, former chief literary critic of the Australian, outgoing editor of Best Australian Essays and winner of the 2011 Pascall Prize for Arts Criticism for his critical writing and reviewing. His reviews and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and journals both here and in Britain and he is a regular on ABC Radio. Geordie’s collection of essays about neglected Australian authors, The Burning Library, was published in 2012. Geordie ran workshop sessions titled ‘New National Narratives’ with our senior secondary students and hosted our Panel Discussion: ‘New and emerging narratives: Narratives of nationhood and selfhood’.

Sam George-Allen is a writer, editor, podcaster, musician and teacher based on unceded melukerdee country in southern lutruwita/Tasmania. Her first book, the non-fiction text, Witches: what women do together was published in Australia in 2019 and internationally in 2020. Her essays and cultural criticism have been published in various publications, including The Guardian, The Lifted Brow, Overland and Kill Your Darlings. She has established a creative writing Podcast, First Word, and edits the First Word Journal which she created for writers who have not yet been published. Sam was our writer-in-residence in 2020 and is currently writing her first novel. Sam ran workshop sessions in creative non-fiction with our secondary students and was a member of our Panel Discussion.

Adam Thompson is an emerging Aboriginal (pakana) writer from lutruwita/Tasmania who writes contemporary short fiction and also writes for the screen. Adam was awarded the First Nations Fellowship at Varuna – The Writer’s House, several Arts Tasmania grants and was one of ten recipients of The Next Chapter initiative through The Wheeler Centre. His debut collection Born Into This was shortlisted for the USQ Steel Rudd Award for a short story collection and the 2021 Age Book of the Year award. In 2022, Born Into This won the international Story Prize: Spotlight Award. Adam ran sessions on ‘Indigenous Voices’ for our secondary and senior secondary students and was a member of our Panel Discussion.