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Byron Bay Writers Festival launches 2014 Program

"If there’s a story to be told and if the story has some validity, some resonance, then you don’t keep it to yourself."
From Stories We Tell by Canadian Film Director Sarah Polley

The Byron Bay Writers Festival proudly opens the pages of the 18th edition of this major literary event showcasing a cavalcade of more than 130 writers, thinkers and creative spirits and a world of ideas over three action-packed days.

Festival Director Edwina Johnson says the 2014 Program is designed to challenge, provoke, connect and inspire.

'We've created a stimulating program featuring a strong core of powerful Australian writers together with acclaimed international talents. Securing celebrated UK author, Jeanette Winterson, is an enormous coup for the Festival. She’s considered one of the world’s Top 10 writers to see live and will deliver the Festival’s Keynote Address. US author Poe Ballantine will discuss his lauded memoir and will be joined by esteemed international writers including Geoff Dyer and Susie Orbach.'

'Cognisant of David Suzuki's belief that 'mounting climate evidence underscores the need to act' we have again afforded the environment a strong focus this year, Johnson says. 'We're looking forward to Bob Brown's session with Tim Flannery exploring an environmental vision for Australia.'

Johnson says the Festival team has continued with its tradition of not shying away from the complicated issues. 'Julian Burnside, Antony Loewenstein, Joanne McCarthy, and Kate McClymont are all attending. We expect robust debate about how our country treats some of the world’s most vulnerable people.'

Don't miss Pulitzer Prize winner David Finkel, author of the brilliant and harrowing Thank You for Your Service and former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser as they explore Australia’s relationship with the US, prompted by influential commentator, David Marr.

The Festival will also probe into our past with authors of fiction and non-fiction including the 2014 Stella Prize winner, Clare Wright, M.L. Stedman, James Brown, Ashley Hay and Mike Carlton.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a festival without food events. Travel the Indian spice route with fêted chef Christine Manfield at her Literary Lunch at the Byron at Byron resort. Saturday's supper with substance will be dished up by national treasures Julian Burnside and Frank Moorhouse in conversation with Sian Prior.

See John Safran's acclaimed live show Murder in Mississippi at the Byron Bay Community Centre. Then dust off your Ziggy Stardust outfits as one of Melbourne's best-loved spoken word events Liner Notes literary cabaret comes to Byron for the first time. A literary cabaret, this year's performers include, among others, Andrew Denton, Missy Higgins and Benjamin Law.

Relish another musical treat with Richard Clapton in conversation with David Leser. And let the music keep playing with Missy Higgins at the launch of her new album.

Kids Big Day Out adds an extra Festival dimension on Sunday featuring some of Australia's favourite authors led by Andy Griffiths, with Sally Rippin, Martin Chatterton, Nick Earls and two Byron Shire locals, Jesse Blackadder and Tristan Bancks. Enjoy another Festival first as Asphyxia unfolds her magical world of marionettes, and if you're one of the millions of kids who own a copy of Possum Magic, bring it along for Mem Fox to sign.

If that’s not enough literary action, delve into memoir, screenwriting, travel, poetry, romance and more at festival panels and at hands-on skills development Workshops. Enjoy over 105 sessions commencing with a John Weiley Retrospective Film Screening and conversation with Kerry O’Brien on Wednesday night and closing with the sweet voices of the Byron Bay Public School Choir.

Festival founder Chris Hanley believes the 2014 Program offers enormous depth. 'Curating any landmark international literary festival requires knowledge, dexterity and passion. Certainly, this year’s Festival signposts Byron Bay as a destination literary event.'

The Festival runs at North Byron Beach Resort from 1- 3 August with workshops commencing on 28 July. For more Festival information or to purchase tickets visit byronbaywritersfestival.com or call 1300 368 552.

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