Feminist Writers Festival – Q&A with Nikki Anderson

We’re thrilled to be supporting the inaugural Feminist Writers Festival, taking place in Melbourne from 26-28 August this year. We’ll be featuring interviews with several artists and Committee members over the coming months in the lead up to the event.

Our Editor/Founder, Zoya Patel, will be speaking on a panel during the Networking Day on Friday 26 August – to find out more, and see all of the amazing events programmed as part of the festival, head to their website.

First up, we chat to Canberra’s own Nikki Anderson, Deputy-Chair of the Feminist Writers Festival Committee about how this glorious thing came about in the first place!

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a freelance literary consultant: I organise events (most notably here in Canberra with the lovely Muse bookshop/restaurant), do a bit of book PR, and lots of corporate writing to pay the bills!
What is the Feminist Writers Festival (FWF), and what do you hope to achieve with it?
The Feminist Writers Festival is basically a big shindig – a gathering together of feminist writers, readers and thinkers to discuss, network, strengthen community. It comprises two streams – a full day of feminist programming at our networking day, Friday 26 August; and five public events co-curated with Melbourne Writers Festival over the first weekend of that festival, 27-28 August. We’re hoping to draw feminist writers together, as well as raise the profile of feminist writing in all its forms.
What made you and the rest of the FWF Steering Committee decide to bring this excellent idea to life?
Well I can’t claim much credit to the kernel of the idea, which came about through some Facebook conversations by  disparate feminist writers basically thinking a get-together would be a great idea. The idea took life, and was encouraged by the Melbourne Writers Festival who are our inaugural hosting partner. Various committee members came on board, and as a life-long feminist and longtime artsworker it was something I had personal interest in, and saw great potential in. I jumped in and many others have too – we’ve been overwhelmed by the interest from across the country, from writers, readers, publishers and volunteers. We’ve clearly struck a chord.
What’s a highlight of the program that you’re looking forward to? 
That is really tough! We have 14 sessions featuring around 40 writers at our networking day (Friday 26 August) and I hope to sneak into all of them. Because my background is in publishing, I’m naturally interested in hearing publishing veteran Susan Hawthorne of Spinifex Press talk with Zoya, and Marisa Pintado (from Hardie Grant Egmont, purveyors of stealth feminist books for kids!) – to get a feel for how to stay in the game and how it’s changing with changes in publishing and new media. The session ‘Tearing us apart’ will be a really important discussion of how we support all feminists, and an honest appraisal of where things go wrong when feminists don’t get along. Sessions on ‘Mothering from the fringes’ and queer and transgender writing will extend my understanding of the lives and writings of other women around me. And our start to the day with a bunch of incredible, diverse (slam) poets will be better than a Melbourne coffee!
How can we keep the ethos of FWF alive throughout the year, outside of festival times – are there things each of us can do to advance gender equality through writing? 
I think simply the act of writing, as a feminist, is basic but intrinsically strong. Every book, feature, op ed, blogpost or even tweet which affirms women’s place in the literary arena – and others – or questions the status quo advances the cause. Obviously engaging with all the fantastic women writers and publishers we have in this country is a great way of actively supporting and growing a feminist writing culture.

Find out more and register to attend the Feminist Writers Festival here!
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