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Mark your diaries for our fourth Canberra Readers and Writers Festival, to be held at the National Library of Australia, Canberra, from 25-27 August 2006. See around 50 national and local authors in conversation and reading their work on the theme of
Deserts and desertion: landscape and escape.

This year will feature a Schools Day with writers for young people on the Friday; as well as a number of book launches, a literary lunch, an afternoon tea and fun evening events throughout the weekend.

The 2006 program will be uploaded in late June.

History of the Canberra Readers & Writers Festival

The ACT Writers Centre hosted a fabulous three-day Spring Poetry Festival in 2002, at the Ainslie Arts Centre venue, with over 50 poets involved and proving that it had the resources and volunteers to take on such a task.

With the demise of Canberra's long running Word Festival in 2003, there was space for the ACT Writers Centre to host a small literary festival of its own. The National Library was kind enough to lend us its theatre and in October 2003 the Centre ran a modest one-day festival with its own funds and support from a range of local literary groups. Featured authors included Bradley Trevor Grieve (The Blue Day Book) and Danielle Wood winner of the Australian/Vogel literary award for The Alphabet of Dark and Light.

In 2004 the Centre ran both a Greek Literary Festival in August (ahead of the Olympic Games), and another writers festival just 8 weeks later in October! With assistance from the Brisbane Writers' Festival and the Canadian High Commission we featured overseas guests Austin Clarke and Isabel Huggan along with interstate and local authors.

After proving ourselves, we received a small Australia Council grant with which to host the 2005 Festival. The National Library again provided staff liaison, technical support, two large venues for consecutive sessions, the foyer for launches, the Friends Room for festival guests and the bookshop and cafe for our audiences. The festival theme was related to the International Year, and was Poverty: hunger of the body and hunger of the soul. There were many issues covered and lively discussions with such authors as Kate Holden and Craig Sherborne and Zimbabwean novelist, Ian Holding. With a limited budget, we were grateful to over 10 publishers for assisting us with costs for their interstate authors.

Successful grant applications to Festivals ACT and the Australia Council (written right in the middle of last year's festival!) have meant that finally the Festival will be able to pay staff for the 2006 organisation. As well, the money allows us to have a professionally designed and printed program, and to advertise and promote the Festival around the region.

This year there will be three venues and an exhibition space in use over three days and nights. A Youth Program will take place on the Friday. The theme is Deserts and desertion: landscape and escape. There will be readings, workshops, panel sessions, literary lunches, cocktail parties, book launches, Romance Gauntlets and poetry slams. Something for everyone.

The Canberra Readers and Writers Festival is supported by Festivals ACT, the Literature Board of the Australia Council and the National Library of Australia.