Melbourne Writers Festival: Fashion Journal’s picks

Words by the Fashion Journal team

This year’s theme is love.

Last year’s Melbourne Writers Festival was controversial for its radical and experimental programming. Creative director, Marieke Hardy, redefined what was conventionally expected from writer’s festivals by including storytellers rather than writers, and it was the most inclusive lineup the festival had ever seen. It was also completely non-traditional. It caused some backlash, but the program was refreshing: a spark of life and a celebration of art. This year, Hardy’s second program has further delivered. 

Here’s where the Fashion Journal team are headed this festival season:

Dating in the Digital Age

Everybody who’s used Tinder has at least one horror story worth sharing (and repeating until it stops sounding insane). Online dating was supposed to be the answer to lonely people’s prayers, bringing eligible bachelors and bachelorettes right to our fingertips. Adolfo Aranjuez, Sam George-Allen, and Fiona Wright speak with Maria Lewis to address the complex – sometimes scary – reality of the situation. 

Sloane Crosley: Look Alive Out There

Sloane Crosley is an essayist – a New York Times bestselling one, at that – with a knack for ‘making profound art out of awkwardness’. She speaks with Tamara Zimet about her newest work, Look Alive Out There, covering everything from neighbourhood wars to Ecuadorian mountains. 

The Politics of Disgust

Dion Kogan runs this deep dive into what it means to be labelled ‘disgusting’, particularly as it applies to LGBTQI+ experiences. Norman Erikson Pasaribu, Nic Holas and Fiona McGregor discuss the social, cultural and legislative implications of the term. 

The Pleasure of Guilty

We’ve all got guilty pleasures, and it’s time we opened up about them. Decidedly highbrow journalists Virginia Trioli and Paul Kennedy, and State Library exec Kate Torney confess their love for lowbrow rom-coms and other pop-culture no-nos. 

Sex Work on the Page

Nadine Chemali, Fiona Patten, Nic Holas and Rita Therese join Jules Kim to discuss the many myths surrounding sex work. Hear from those working in the industry on the literary importance of sex worker voices. 

What We Learn from Heartbreak

Candid authority on all things romance, Zoë Foster Blake, speaks with Madeleine Dore about how to make the most out of heartbreak. Learn the tips and tricks to finding a lesson in even the hardest situations. 

Love in the Age of Reality TV

Whether it’s the Bachelor or Love Island, plenty of perfectly rational people have been ready and raring to find The One in front of TV audiences everywhere. Sami Shah asks Clementine Ford, Meriki Onus, and Michael Rowland what our obsession with reality TV says about our approach to love. 


Free events:

Alone Doesn’t have to Mean Lonely

Journalist Madeleine Dore and politician Fiona Patten talk all things solo, including the best ways to utilise a day by yourself, and how to come to terms with loneliness without sacrificing joy. 

Museum of Broken Relationships

Get a taste of Croatia’s famous Museum of Broken Relationships, in a showcase of pieces from Zagreb, LA, and possibly your own home. Curators are accepting donated mementos of heartbreak between now and August 7, some of which will be exhibited in Melbourne before joining the museum’s worldwide collection. Donation forms are available online. 

Brow Talks: Oliver Reeson

Oliver Reeson discusses navigating privilege and toxic masculinity as a transmasculine person. The non-binary writer explores privilege and pressure through their new and often confronting lens. 

Blak & Bright: Change the Date?: A Hypothetical

Gregory Phillips poses the question of Australia Day to Nayuka Gorrie, Yvette Holt, Liza-Mare Syron, Jason Tamiru. Expect a humour-tinged debate on whether or not a date change is the best way forward. 

You can see the full program here. Buy tickets here. 

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