Top Events for High School Students at the Sydney Writers’ Festival

The Sydney Writers’ Festival is an annual event which has been running since 1997. The festival brings together a diverse community to celebrate literature and ideas. Through panels, debates and performances, it explores the role of storytelling and asks important questions about the future. 

This year the festival runs from 16-22 May. The programs specifically for primary and high school students do book out early. Fortunately, there are lots of  panels and discussions which are suitable for students and many are free. You can find details about the times and venues in the festival program

Top events for high school students include:

Shadows and Reflections 

What better way to help students become passionate about poetry than through a live reading? This exploration around the concepts of shadows and reflections seeks to bring poetry to life by setting the words against moving images.

Multiple poets from a wide range of backgrounds approach the theme from different perspectives. This encourages students to expand their horizons and think creatively. Auburn Poets and Writers have been presenting concepts through performance for 17 years, and their presentation is sure to delight. 

Meet the Emerging Writers of 2022 Premier’s Literary Award 

This free event is ideal for budding writers. It’s also available via Zoom. Students will hear emerging writers talk about where they get their ideas, how they develop them and their journey to getting published. They’ll also share their plans for future books.

Enthusiastic writers, as well as students who struggle with creative writing, will benefit from this conversation. Hearing writers talk about their work is inspiring and shows kids that they, too, can be writers

Growing Up in Country Australia 

Students from both city and country backgrounds will appreciate this panel. Based on the new anthology Growing Up In Country Australia, this discussion will challenge ideas and offer fresh insights into regional life. 

Established and emerging writers share their experiences about isolation as well as dealing with natural disasters such as droughts and bushfires. They will also talk about the beauty and adventure of growing up outside a capital city. 

Meet the SMH Best Young Australian Novelists

Another panel discussion to inspire kids to write. This is the 26th year anniversary of the Sydney Morning Herald’s young fiction writers award. Melanie Kembrey, the editor of Spectrum, will lead a discussion with the most recent winners.

Young authors will discuss their writing and read selected passages from their books. Hearing an author read their own work is a valuable experience for students by helping them engage with and understand the writer’s voice. 

Keeping Tech in Check

Technology already plays a huge part in young people’s lives, and this will only intensify in the future. This free panel will consider  the benefits of AI and also ask questions about who benefits from the collection of data. 

The participants will debate whether technology has led to a deterioration in public discourse and will consider the ethical dilemmas raised by robotics and AI. Students will be encouraged to think more deeply about the issues that affect them directly. 

We Can Work It Out

In this panel, YA authors Clayton Zane Comber, Sophie Gonzales and Kay Kerr will talk about identity, love and the confusion that comes with being a teenager. They will discuss these issues in relation to their own books, making this event very relevant for students. 

The discussion will consider how books help young people navigate the rocky road to adulthood. The panellists will consider how much comfort and solace can be found through reading, and the role stories play in helping teens start the next chapter in their lives. 

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