According to Jemma Birrell, Director of the 2016 Sydney Writers Festival, “a good festival, like a good book, should bring real-life benefits – joy, solace and a new understanding of the world.”
There were plenty of all these things on Opening Night of the festival, with the highlight of the evening being a compelling opening address by British poet and spoken word artist Kate Tempest, who received a standing ovation for her poems and streams of consciousness, covering topics like homelessness, racism and the power of literature.
After the address, the opening night party kicked off at Pier 2/3, which was transformed into The Hemingway Bar and lit up in festival colours of red, orange and yellow. Guests included writers Thomas Keneally, Tara Moss and Emily Maguire, radio host Amanda Keller, as well as British psychoanalyst Susie Orbach and her partner, writer Jeanette Winterson.
The theme for this year’s festival is bibliotherapy, with events centred around the ways in which literature can be used to heal.
Photographs: Prudence Upton
Background photograph: Remy Varga-Taylor