This year’s Emerging Writers’ Festival (EWF) will see more than 300 writers taking the stage. The festival is a safe and inclusive space for writers and readers, from all walks of life.

Artistic Director Izzy Roberts-Orr stresses the importance of giving a platform to emerging voices.

“We make sure that folks whose voices might not be heard in mainstream media and perspectives that are often marginalised are really given a space at the festival,” says Roberts-Orr. “When thinking about the future of our storytelling … it’s so vital that we make sure we support voices that have important things to say.”

Spanning 11 days, the festival includes 70-plus panels, workshops, masterclasses, parties and performances. More than half of the program is free too.

One of Roberts-Orr’s favourite events this year is Soapbox – a comedy event hosted by Nayuka Gorrie, writer for ABC skit comedy show Black Comedy.

“She’s flippin’ amazing,” says Roberts-Orr. “All the other comedians that are in the line-up are super fab, so that’s going to be a fun one.”

But if you’re overwhelmed about where to start Roberts-Orr suggests the opening night if you “aren’t sure about what to go to, or just want to get a bit of an overview and a feel of what the festival’s like.”

With that in mind here are a few of Broadsheet’s own top picks from this year’s Emerging Writers’ Festival.

Speakeasy: Money, Sex and Death
Here, taboos are encouraged. Three nights of controversial topics – money, sex and death – are on the plate and up for discussion, with dinner and drinks served afterwards. Every night the vegan menu changes, with Moroccan Soup Bar, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Catering and Tiba’s all taking turns in the kitchen. It’s your chance to join esteemed artists in discussions at the dinner table.

On Tuesday, weigh up how economies, class and politics collide with Esther Anatolitis, Farah Farouque and Helen Razer. On Wednesday explore erotic writing, desire and gender with Dani Weber, Angela Serrano and Dion Kagan. And for Thursday’s final instalment, Pia Interlandi, Hayley West and Elizabeth Flux will explore the curious depths of death, grieving and rituals.

When: Tue June 26 to Thu June 28, 6.30pm
Where: Brunswick Mechanics Insti-tute
Tickets here

Queer Icons Party
Get your groove on and celebrate the glory of queer histories. The evening will begin with 10-minute poetry readings and performances from Adolfo Aranjuez, Quinn Eades, June Jones, Chris Tse and Peter Polites, before finishing up with a set from house and techno DJ Jennifer Loveless. Hosted by Mama Alto, a self-titled “gender transcendent diva”, it’s set to be a night of banging good tunes and inspirational words. Don’t forget your dancing shoes.

When: Sat June 23, 8pm
Where: Alpha60, Chapter House
Tickets here

This night’s all about celebrating pixelated graphics, arcade games and homemade cassette tapes – technologies and devices that are no longer cutting edge, but are still a source of creative inspiration. Multidisciplinary performances from Calvin Fung, Fury, Nathania Gilson, Nikki Tran and Tegan Webb will take place throughout the evening. Expect readings about The Sims, some game play and even a showcase of tech experiments. Heavy bouts of nostalgia are likely.

When: Tue June 26, 7pm
Where: Bar SK
Tickets here

Imaginary Homelands
Home – a tangible place or an intangible concept? On this night, seven artists will unpack the idea of placemaking. Then, it’s your turn to take to the stage. Here, you’ll have free reign to talk about what home means to you. Improvised, prepared, freeform or haiku, it’s up to you. Or just come and listen to others – it’s free.

When: Thurs June 28, 7pm
Where: Victoria University, Metro West, Foot-scray
Free. More info here

The Emerging Writers’ Festival takes place from June 19–29, 2018.