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Conversations between Australian and Chinese writers

Media release

Curtin University’s China Australia Writing Centre (CAWC) will host its inaugural literary event, Creative Conversations, on Saturday, 10 September. The event, supported by ABC Radio National, brings together writers from Australia and China to discuss the experience and art of writing across cultures.

Presented by CAWC Director Dr Liz Byrski, alongside Radio National presenters Kate Evans and Amanda Smith, the event will feature activists, poets, novelists and journalists who will cover topics including the history of the novel, writing from the heart, crime writing and writing that challenges the establishment.

Miles Franklin Award winner Kim Scott, a Professor of Writing within Curtin’s School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts; prominent crime novelist and justice advocate, He Jiahong; and acclaimed poet Lucy Dougan will be among the prominent Australian and Chinese writers.

Dr Byrski said each conversation would focus on the craft, experiences, difficulties and rewards of writing in the vastly different countries.

“Creative Conversations brings together talented and experienced writers to discuss writing as a cross-cultural experience. It is part of the China Australia Writing Centre’s ambition to build relationships through writers and writing,” Dr Byrski said.

CAWC is a research and creative partnership between Curtin University in Perth and Fudan University in Shanghai.

Established in 2015, the China Australia Writing Centre showcases Australian writing in China and Chinese writing in Australia, and provides a forum for the exchange of ideas about writing and the teaching of writing in Chinese and Australian universities.

Tickets for Creative Conversations, which can be used for any or all of the sessions, cost $30 each and can be purchased from



Notes to Editor:

There will be four panels at the event on 10 September 2016. Full details about each panel session are below.

9.45 – 11.15am Panel One: The Novel Through Time

Featuring Miles Franklin Award winner Kim Scott, Tan Zheng and Alison Lumsden

The impact of industrialisation on writers and writing is apparent in the literature of the times. The 19th century novel both documents and illustrates this impact most significantly in the work of regional writers and their depictions of changing regional lives. What can this historical background tell us about the impact of late 20th and 21st century globalisation on contemporary writers and writing?  How might it impact on the work of regional and indigenous writers and how is it reflected in their creative work?


11.45 – 1.15pm Panel Two: The Power and the Passion: Writing from the Heart

Featuring poets Lucy Dougan, Nicholas Wong, memoirist Rachel Robertson and short story writer Isabelle Li

What is at work when we read something that brings us to tears of joy or sadness, touches our deepest emotions, and speaks to us at an intimate level? How do writers reach readers in this most profound of ways, and what is the impact of that heartfelt writing on the writers themselves? Whether writing of love and beauty, sadness or joy, inhumanity or the deepest of human connections, what does it take to put your most profound emotions into words?


2.00 – 3.15pm Panel Three: What is it About Crime?

Featuring justice expert He Jiahong and crime novelists Leigh Straw and David Whish-Wilson

In print and e-books, television series, the movies and in our new 21st century obsession with streaming television, crime fiction and true crime stories top the popularity polls. So why do we love to read about murders, serial killers, gangs and mafia bosses, violence and cunning plots? Are we hungry for sensation or do we seek the reassurance of a story that provides resolution and restores belief in justice? In this panel three successful crime writers discuss why we love crime, and why and how they choose to write it.


 3.45 – 5.00pm Panel Four: Making Waves: Writing that Challenges the Establishment

Featuring historian Frank Bongiorno, journalist Wendy Bacon and justice expert He Jiahong

What happens when writers come up against the law, the government, accepted versions of history or politics, or other powerful vested interests? What pressure is brought to bear on them when they speak their minds or reveal new and challenging evidence, interpretations or opinions? A lawyer, a historian and a journalist, discuss the rewards and the risks of participating in public discourse and how they deal with the results.


About Kate Evans and Amanda Smith, ABC Radio National

 Kate Evans joined ABC’s Radio National (RN) in 1997 and has spent time both behind the scenes and in front of the microphone on a range of programs including The Book Show and BooksPlus. Amanda Smith currently presents The Body Sphere and Books and Arts on RN.


About Dr Liz Byrski

 Dr Liz Byrski is a writer, journalist and former ABC broadcaster with more than 40 years of experience in the British and Australian media. She is the author of nine novels about the lives of older women and 12 non-fiction books. Liz has a PhD in writing and lectures in Professional and Creative Writing at Curtin. She has won several awards for her work as a print and radio journalist and is a former President of the WA Women’s Advisory Council to the Premier.