Local writers give Perth Writers Festival a universal voice

American author Joyce Carol Oates wrote "the regional voice is the universal voice".

And with WA authors tackling subjects ranging from how to best "read" a dress to love and loss in the shadow of family legacy, the 2018 Perth Writers Festival has curated a rich list of literary talent who tell local stories with universal appeal.

Will Yeoman is curating this year's Perth Writers Festival.

Will Yeoman is curating this year's Perth Writers Festival. Photo: PIAF

There are of course international writers and interstate writers like Helen Garner, Sofie Laguna, Alan Hollinghurst, Rachel Khong and AC Grayling who will bring their local voices to the festival.

But the Guest Curator of the Festival's writers program Will Yeoman has aimed to bring WA voices to the fore, saying "in all arts festivals you're bringing the world to the local audience, but you also want the local audience to come and see the world."

"People expect to see some headline international names but it's also important to showcase local talent, because that's how you bring people from outside the state to the Festival," he said.

"We've got so much great local talent that goes unacknowledged - it's partly due to the 'cultural cringe', the idea that it can't be so great if it's in our own backyard, which is the least true in WA out of all the other states, I would say.

Tim Winton will preview his new novel The Shepherd's Hut. Photo: Denise Winton

Tim Winton will preview his new novel The Shepherd's Hut. Photo: Denise Winton

"We have people who aren't celebrated at anywhere near the level they ought to be and it's the responsibility of any programmer of any festival such as this to bring these people to the attention to others."

There are more than forty WA authors taking part in this year's festival, with something for everyone from true crime, poetry, romance, literary fiction and architecture to pianos and dresses.

The Perth Writers Festival is on from February 19th to the 25th around Perth, Fremantle and at the University of Western Australia, with the Perth Festival Writers Week launching on the 18th January to celebrate Australian storytelling.

WA writers at the Perth Writers Festival

Two-time winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award and Freo local Kim Scott will discuss his latest book Taboo, appearing alongside top tier Australian writer Helen Garner at the opening event to share their latest works and shine a spotlight on the importance of literature in Australia.

<i>Taboo</i>, by Kim Scott, is a sprawling, unsentimental and very fine novel of coming to terms with colonial violence and suppressed history.

Taboo, by Kim Scott, is a sprawling, unsentimental and very fine novel of coming to terms with colonial violence and suppressed history.

Arguably WA's most prominent modern writer, Tim Winton will preview his new novel, The Shepherd's Hut, described as "a powerful meditation on lost boys and the riptide of toxic masculinity," before its global release.

Josephine Wilson, winner of the prestigious 2017 Miles Franklin Literary Award and the inaugural Dorothy Hewett Award for her second novel Extinctions will speak at the festival "on the fragments we shore against our ruins."

Rising WA writer Laurie Steed will launch his debut novel You Belong Here through Margaret River Press, a boutique imprint that's backed his story of "hopeful meditation on what it means to be a family in modern Australia."

WA writer Laurie Steed will launch his debut novel You Belong Here at the festival.

WA writer Laurie Steed will launch his debut novel You Belong Here at the festival. Photo: Laurie Steed

Crime writer and academic David Whish-Wilson will lead a literary walk on the dark side on a tour of some of Northbridge's most notorious crime scenes and will dive into one of the most fascinating unsolved cases in WA's history, the murder of brothel madam Shirley Finn, with Dirty Girl author Juliet Wills.

Poet Carolyn Abbs brings her collection The Tiny Museums - highly commended in the 2016 Dorothy Hewett Award - and is set to speak on "adulthood as a series of sometimes haunted negotiations between past and present."

Pilbara author Lorrae Coffin brings her book Free Diving to the festival, which pays a "poignant tribute to the Indigenous men and women who worked in the pearling industry."

Anaesthetist turned novelist Robert Edeson will share his latest work Bad to Worse, where science, poetry and philosophy underscore a ripping tale of family feuds.

Josephine Wilson

Josephine Wilson won the 2017 Miles Franklin Literary Award for her novel Extinctions.

Awarded a Varuna residential fellowship in 2014 and shortlisted for the City of Fremantle's TAG Hungerford Award, debut author Louise Allan will discuss her work The Sisters' Song.

Raised in South Sudan and living in WA since 1988, Yasmin Hamid's Swimming on the Lawn makes a case for compassion and care" for refugees coming to Australia."

Emily Paull is making a splash with short stories appearing in Shibboleth and Other Stories and Joiner Bay and Other Stories from Margaret River Press.

ECU Lecturer Lydia Edwards will teach people How to Read a Dress with her authoritative visual guide to women's fashion across five centuries.

WA writers and works at Perth Writers Festival:

Carolyn Abbs - The Tiny Museums

Louise Allan - The Sisters' Song

Josie Boyle - Mrs White and the Red Desert

Cristy Burne - To the Lighthouse

Lorena Carrington - Vasilisa the Wise & Other Tales of Brave Girls

Alan Carter - Marlborough Man

Claire G Coleman - Terra Nullius

Lorrae Coffin - Free Diving

Shevaun Cooley - Homing

Robert Drewe - The Whipbird

Patricia Dudgeon - Us Women, Our Ways, Our World

Robert Ederson - Bad to Worse

Lydia Edwards - How to Read a Dress

Deb Fitzpatrick - The Spectacular Spencer Gray

Sara Foster - The Hidden Hours

Anna Haebich - Dancing in the Shadows: Histories of Nyungar Performance

Yasmin Hamid - Swimming on the Lawn

Rachael Johns - The Greatest Gift

Michelle Johnston -Dustfall

John Kinsella - The Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry

Geoffrey Lancaster - Culliford, Rolfe & Barrow: A Tale of Ten Pianos

Natasha Lester - The Paris Seamstress

Mirian Wei Wei Lo and Emily-Rose Lochore - Bree's Forest Adventure

Geoffrey London - An Unfinished Experiment in Living

Fleur McDonald - Suddenly One Summer

Dervla McTiernan - The Ruin

Tamara Moss - Lintang and the Pirate Queen

Fiona Palmer - Secrets Between Friends

Charmaine Papertalk Green - False Claims of Colonial Thieves

Emily Paull - Shibboleth and Other Stories and Joiner Bay and Other Stories

Vanessa Russ - Discussing art history and aboriginal art

Tracy Ryan - The Water Bearer

Saltwater Dudes, Sally Mayman & Dale Kentwel - Seeing Saltwater Country

Kim Scott - Taboo

Laurie Steed - You Belong Here

Leigh Straw - After the War

Elizabeth Tan - Rubik

Juliet Wills - Dirty Girl

Josephine Wilson - Extinctions

Tim Winton - The Shepherd's Hut

Jess Woods - Beautiful Messy Love

This story Local writers give Perth Writers Festival a universal voice first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.