Bellingen Readers & Writers Festival reborn

Jason John
Jason John

AFTER weeks of locked-down brainstorming, planning and literary juggling, the Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival (BRWF) creative team is excited to announce new digital iterations of select events originally planned for the cancelled 2020 festival.

The upcoming virtual festival can be viewed either via ZOOM, Youtube or Facebook, with audiences encouraged to actively participate with comments, author queries and observations.

Offerings include a mix of book launches by local and regional authors; a short story contest in conjunction with 'I Love Bello Shire' for kids, teens and adults; writer-focused presentations and workshops; headline author podcasts; and a mammoth two-evening poetry slam.

Straight out the gates is a presentation on Saturday by Linda Nix with a workshop on editing your own work (book your place at

The virtual festival will also showcase interviews with three independently published local authors who are launching their books at the event. Conducted by Debbie Lee, senior manager of book distributor Ingram Lightning Source, these interviews will be uploaded to the festival website, Facebook and Youtube.

In the following days, audiences can meet virtually on to chat live with the authors themselves.

* The first launch finds Debbie interviewing author/raconteur Jason John, winner of the 2019 Bellingen Poetry Slam and this year's slam MC. On Thursday prepare to be entertained, confronted, uplifted, and jolted into a new way of thinking with his literary debut, I'm Not Racist But, I've Got a Racist Butt. Jason's live Facebook event will follow on June 3 at 7.30pm on the BRWF Facebook Page.

* Also on June 3, Debbie will interview Tim Cadman, research academic, environmental activist and author of The Changes, as they discuss the epic work involved in writing an epic. In Tim's fictitious world, climate change acts as chief protagonist, while idiot presidents are breaking up the US, Europe is imploding, and a catastrophic viral outbreak is wreaking havoc. Tim's live Facebook event is at 7.30pm on June 12.

* Mid-June sometime, it is Josie Robinson's turn to be interviewed with her book called Women in Black.

In association with 2BBB FM, the Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival programming director, Adam Norris, will present five original podcasts with headline authors who were scheduled for the 2020 festival proper. Each podcast includes backstage insights from BRWF luminaries, music, and performances from a selection of celebrated festival authors reading from their own work.

Release dates for each episode will be unveiled on the BRWF Facebook page.

Last year's poetry slam presentation

Last year's poetry slam presentation

Organisers will once again stage the piece de resistance for many loyal festival followers. The 2020 Virtual Bello Poetry Slam will be held live on Facebook over two evenings: 7-9 o'clock on Friday June 5 for Heat #1, and Saturday June 6 for Heat #2 and the finals.

Hosted by 2019's winner, Jason Johns, this year's slam features the best that Bellingen, the region and Australia has to offer. Each heat will also feature a special, non-competing feature poet to perform between sets.

And, this year, there is a new twist to the judging: Judges are normally plucked from a live audience. This year, anyone can be a judge! All you have to do is register at, and with the ticket price of $5 per night or $8 for both nights, you will be issued an exclusive Zoom Room pass to view the talent and participate in the judging.

Successful slammers are in the running for a $400 first prize, and a $200 second prize.

The festival organisers are proud and excited to get the ball rolling once again. With plenty more events scheduled for the months ahead, be sure to check the website and Facebook page regularly.

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