The Invisible Now: Writing Crisis and the Future Imaginary

Image by John Byrne, via Wikimedia Commons
Thursday 1 July 2021
6.00 - 7.30pm

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Online (Zoom)

A panel of critically acclaimed writers examines the power of writing during a moment of multiplying and interconnecting crises.

Just as COVID-19 has laid bare the racial, gender, and economic inequalities upon which our societies are built, the accelerating climate catastrophe has made the violence of capitalism and colonialism inescapable. Yet as social and political structures around the world buckle and break, writers are finding new ways of representing and interrogating the world we inhabit. In doing this many are asking new and important questions about the nature and purpose of writing in a world in the midst of transformative change.

What is the role of the writer in such a moment? How does writing in a time of emergency alter the practice of writing? What might a literature capable of speaking about the violence of the past and its pervasive and continuing legacies look like? And perhaps most importantly, what is the role of writing in helping us imagine and reimagine the future? Join Evelyn Araluen, Tony Birch, and James Bradley as they discuss their own work and the broader challenges of writing into and out of crisis.


Evelyn Araluen is a poet, educator and researcher working with Indigenous literatures at the University of Sydney. Her work has won the Nakata Brophy Prize for Young Indigenous Writers, the Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize, and a Wheeler Centre Next Chapter Fellowship. Born, raised, and writing in Dharug country, she is a Bundjalung descendant.

Tony Birch is the author of three novels: the bestselling The White GirlGhost River, which won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writing; and Blood, which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. In 2017 he was awarded the Patrick White Literary Award. In 2021 he will publish two new books; Whisper Songs, a poetry collection, and Dark As Last Night, a book of short stories, both with the University of Queensland Press. Tony is a frequent contributor to ABC local and national radio, a regular guest at writers’ festivals, and a climate justice campaigner.

James Bradley is an Australian author and critic. His books include the novels Wrack (1997), Clade (2015) and Ghost Species (2020). His books have won or been shortlisted for many major Australian and international literary awards, and in 2012 he won the Pascall Prize for Australia’s Critic of the Year. As well as writing fiction, his essays and articles have appeared in The Monthly, The Guardian, Sydney Review of Books, The Sydney Morning Herald and more. James is also an Honorary Associate of the Sydney Environment Institute.

Christopher Wright (Chair) is a Professor of Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney Business School where he teaches and researches business responses to climate change, sustainability and critical understandings of capitalism. He has published extensively on the political economy of climate change, organisational sustainability, corporate political activity and the evolution of climate fictions.