The Blak & Bright Festival program unveiled

Blak & Bright First Nations Literary Festival is a celebration of First Nations stories, books and writers across Naarm, Australia and internationally from Thursday 17th to Sunday 20th March 2022.

Blak & Bright brings together the world’s oldest storytelling traditions in bold and innovative ways. Featuring over 67 of the nation’s most engaging storytellers in a 27-event program ranging from oral histories to epic novels, poems to monologues, history to activism.

Organized to give voice to rarely heard stories, guests include Tony Birch, Claire G. Coleman, Elders, Jazz Money, Nardi Simpson, Ellen van Neerven, Tara June Winch, Chelsea Watego, Alexis Wright, The Yung Tent embassy and more.

Jane Harrison, Festival Director:

We’ve crafted a bold new festival with new talent, new stories and new events, delivered in new hybrid ways, while bringing back old favorites (artists and events). We believe Blak’s stories are needed more than ever, in the face of climate change, pandemics, Blak Lives Matter. We need to access connection, compassion and country through stories. Here are Blak’s words live.

Festival highlights include:

Official opening

Welcome to Country and Commissioned Performance: Solace

Three traditional owners and artists imagined a multidisciplinary performance exploring men’s mental health. With Philly, Bryan Andy, James Henry and Steven Rhall.

What changed ? What has remained the same?

Melissa Lucashenko speaks on the theme, with a spotlight on Jazz Money writers Alexis Wright and Crystal McKinnon. With Glenn Shea.

Black and white and read (and heard) everywhere

Unpacking the importance of Blak voices in the media. With Daniel Browning, Thomas Mayor and Declan Fry. Moderator Merinda Dutton

Yung Tent Embassy

For two hours, six activists from various social justice sites will present their impassioned ten-minute interviews. With time for audience responses. Organized by Crystal McKinnon. With Aunty Ronnie Gorrie, Senior Activist.

Big Blak Poetry Reading

Six of the best poets read three of their best poems. With Jazz Money, Charmaine Papertalk Green, Tony Birch, Kirli Saunders, Ellen van Neerven, as well as Samoan-New Zealand poet Tusiata Avia

Borrow a living book

Sit with an Elder at Big Esso Mabu Mabu to hear the story of their lived experience. With Uncle Larry Walsh, Aunt Pat Ockwell, Aunt Pattie Lees, Aunt Pam Pederson.

Wright’s stuff

Alexis Wright reads excerpts from her award-winning work and a special treat – an excerpt from a new work. Starring Alexis Wright, Jane Harrison.

The monologues

Hear the best upcoming monologues from Blak playwrights including Kodie Bedford, Richard Frankland, Jane Harrison, Anita Heiss, Andrea James, Nathan Maynard, Maryanne Sam, Dylan Van Den Berg, Ursula Yovich. Read by two of our best actors

Smoked ham

Gammon is the Aboriginal slang word meaning ‘joke, joke’. This is Blak comedy at its darkest. MC Kimmy Lovegrove with Denise McGuinness, Ben Moodie, Kasey Johnson, Tommy Pemberton.

Architecture & Design: A Blak aesthetic?

What is an Aboriginal aesthetic? How can you design buildings and products that reflect Indigenous worldviews? With Alison Page, Brian Martin, Sarah Lyn Rees. Moderator Timmah Ball.

Running words

The how, when, where, what and why of their writing practices. With Tara June Winch, Charmaine Papertalk Green, Claire G. Coleman. Moderator Declan Fry.

The Bogong

The Bogong is a celebration and sharing of spoken word and the final event of the festival. Nardi Simpson, SJ Norman, Declan Fry, Tara June Winch, Victor Rodger (NZ), Emily Munro-Harrison, Nayook, Claire G. Coleman, Nayuka Gorrie.

Most events are free and reservations are essential. This year, the festival will feature both in-person and live events.

Blak & Bright is proudly supported by Creative Victoria, the Australian Council for the Arts, the RISE Fund and the City of Melbourne.


Season details

Location: Dark & ​​Bright
Dates: March 17 — 20, 2022

For more information click HERE

Photo credit: Tiffany Garvie

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