Queensland Poetry Festival is back for another year, kicking off today and running right through until Sunday. Hosted across four main venues – the Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane Multicultural Arts Centre, Brisbane Square Library and, new this year, Bloodhound Corner Bar & Kitchen – the festival will showcase 80-plus sessions and more than 130 artists.

This year’s theme, “distant voices”, provides the connective tissue for the festival, the aim being to tap into as many different kinds of Australian experiences as possible.

To help you navigate the program, Queensland Poetry Festival co-director David Stavanger has listed his must-see events. “There’s too much on, you can’t get to everything, but what you will see will be really great,” Stavanger says. And with, about 75 per cent of the sessions free, “anyone can come to something [and] feel welcome.”

The QPF 2017 Literary Cabaret
“If you wanted to get a broad view of the festival, this is a great event,” Stavanger says. With a cast of six multi-award-winning names including the QPF2017 Indigenous Poet in Residence Ali Cobby Eckermann and Stella Prize–short-listed author Maxine Beneba Clarke, “you get a really great taste of what poetry and spoken word can be.”

Writing Through Fences (WTF) events (co-presented with Queensland Multicultural Month)
Writing Through Fences is a group of writers who are currently, or have previously been, held in Australian detention centres. The free events will consist of a poetry performance and panel exploring experiences of displacement and poetry. “I think that’s going to be one of the most powerful sessions of the whole festival,” Stavanger says.

QPF Queer Literary Salon
“Everyone should get enrolled to vote and then go to the ‘Queer Lits’ performance,” Stavanger says. The late night event includes a line-up of 11 queer poets, short prose writers and musicians celebrating diverse voices and life experiences.

Each Map of Scars
This collaboration between poet Andy Jackson, artist and performer Rachael Wenona Guy, and videographer and animator Leonie Van Eyk will showcase a multimedia performance “exploring how we inhabit the body using poetry, puppetry and projections,” Stavanger says. “[This short performance is based on three poems] and is one of the most complex shows during the festival.”

Viral Verse
Poets Hera Lindsay Bird, Patricia Lockwood and Sierra De Mulder are considered leaders of a new movement in online and social media poetry. At this event, the three will be reading some of their work live. “[They] have huge followings online through poems that went viral,” Stavanger says.

For the full events program and more information about the Queensland Poetry Festival, visit the event website.