Picture: Chris Patterson.
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First guests announced for 2022 Newcastle Writers Festival

It’s been a long time between drinks but after a three-year absence, the Newcastle Writers Festival is coming back, live and large in 2022.

And it’s shaping up to be a massive three days with the first guest artists for the April festival announced this week.

And Australia’s high vaccination rate means that the program will include interstate guests such as Professor Peter Doherty,who has led the nation’s reopening strategy in response to COVID-19, First Nations poet and editor Evelyn Araluen, international best-selling writer Hannah Kent and debut author Amani Haydar.

Festival director Rosemarie Milsom said 2022 promises a huge program of 60 free and ticketed events, adding securing Hannah Kent, who will be discussing her latest novel Devotion was a particular coup.

“Coincidentally, Hannah’s first book Burial Rights was published in 2013, which is the same year that the inaugural Newcastle Writers Festival was held. I’ve been trying to lure her here nearly every year since,” Rosemarie said.

The depth of talent is exciting and this has buoyed me amid the uncertainty.”

“So many of us have turned to books to help us through lockdown and it’s well and truly time we gather to celebrate the power of literature to comfort and sustain us. We also shouldn’t lose sight of its power to challenge us.”

For the first time, the organisation engaged guest curators,Kirli Saunders (First Nations); Claire Albrecht (Poetry); and Laura Kebby and Amy Lovat (Emerging Curators), to help shape the festival program and Rosemarie said the collaboration had been a huge success.

“The collaboration has been valuable, and I’ve appreciated having a small team to bounce around ideas with,” she said.

The Newcastle Writers Festival in on from April 1-3 2022.The full program will be available from March 4 and tickets go on sale the same day. Head here for more information.