WORD Christchurch is back with a local flavour as it celebrates New Zealand books, stories, and writers in the WORD Christchurch Spring Festival (28 October – 1 November).

The WORD festival will be the first major metropolitan literary festival to take place with live audiences since the COVID-19 lockdown. WORD Christchurch is following Ministry of Health guidelines regarding alert levels and is actively monitoring the situation to ensure contingencies are in place should the levels change. 

The festival promises to be a colourful explosion of stories, poetry, ideas, and song. With 65 events and more than 100 of Aotearoa’s finest writers, thinkers and entertainers at its heart, the four-day festival is centred around the idea of community and in that vein, many of the events will be free for the local community to attend.

Programme director Rachael King says this year’s festival will be a more intimate experience and will showcase many themes that are relevant to the changing times in which we are living.

“There’s no doubt the global pandemic has had an effect on each and every one of us,” King explains. “We wanted to capture some of the shared experiences, and the challenges and opportunities from those experiences, in our programme and we also wanted to support our local publishing and book industry. Having a festival that is centred on New Zealand writing and New Zealand writers allows us to do that and to focus on that sense of community that we have all shared this year.”

Guest programmer, poet, and comedian Ray Shipley, provides a welcome spot of relief from the events of a turbulent year with their events: Bedtime Stories for Anxious AdultsStand Up Poetry: A Quiz Show and a special edition of Ray Shipley’s Late-Night Poetry Hour

Other highlights include the ever-popular Adventurous Women, the Great WORD Debate, the WORD Gala: Brave Worlds, with the theme of courage, and tributes to artist Ralph Hotere and Katherine Mansfield.

The festival will showcase many of New Zealand’s best known and best loved fiction and non-fiction writers, poets and historians including Elizabeth Knox, Behrouz Boochani, Witi Ihimaera, Vincent O’Sullivan, Becky Manawatu, Dr Siouxsie Wiles, Laura Jean McKay, Annabel Langbein, Selina Tusitala Marsh, Kaiora Tipene (The Casketeers), Carl Nixon, Pip Adam, Bill Manhire, Owen Marshall, Golriz Ghahraman, Tusiata Avia, Tom Scott, Farid Ahmed and many, many more.

The WORD Christchurch Spring Festival programme launches at 6pm Tuesday 8 September.

A full calendar of events and details of all the featured guests is available on the website: www.wordchristchurch.co.nz

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