Wellington Scoop

Magic formula for readers and writers festival

verb wellington 2021

News from Verb Wellington
The eighth annual Verb festival celebrating Aotearoa writers and readers in Pōneke has a distinctly magical theme for 2021. Verb Wellington takes place 3 – 7 November and includes the popular LitCrawl on Saturday 6 November.

“We chose the theme of ‘coven’ this year to explore ideas of community, magic in literature, circles of knowledge both ancient and new, and to honour the idea that writing and reading can be powerful acts: words and ideas can make an impact and affect change,” says Festival director Claire Mabey.

Highlights include Charlotte Grimshaw speaking about her memoir The Mirror Book; Hinemoa Elder and Māni Dunlop discussing Elder’s best-selling book of whakataukī Aroha; Lana Lopesi and Rosbel Tan will talk about Lana’s forthcoming book, Bloody Woman; and the return of the popular Feminist Rage Night hosted by Michele A’Court.

The programme also includes several appearances from international writers thanks to the magic of the internet: “There are a handful of international authors whose work so strongly influenced the kaupapa of this festival that I felt we just had to bring them to our audiences despite the current inability for that to be in-person,” says Mabey.

Doireann Ni Ghriofa is the acclaimed author of the Irish Book of the Year 2020, A Ghost in the Throat, which has won numerous awards worldwide and is universally praised for the way the book blends memoir, scholarship, and fiction.

Meg Mason, author of the worldwide hit book Sorrow & Bliss, will beam in live to speak with Noelle McCarthy about the extraordinary success of her novel about mental health, family and relationships.

And Sam George-Allen will join us from Tasmania to speak to Michele A’Court about her collection of essays called Witches: What Women Do Together which explores the various ways that women work collectively for the greater good.

LitCrawl includes the debut of a new opera in progress by Chris Tse and Ruby Solly in collaboration with musicians; and a session on faith in the pandemic with acclaimed historian Hirini Kaa and writers Danyl Mclauchlan and Ian Harris. LitCrawlers will be able to hear from Whiti Hereaka on her new novel Kurangaituku; join a literary Hexing session; and much more.

The Festival includes a series of early events taking place throughout October, including Travelling Covens, which bring writers to homes for in-depth, intimate conversation and creative writing inspiration.

Mabey says planning a festival during a pandemic is hard work, but reckons it will be worth it.

“The last two years have been stressful for this industry. Gathering people together to celebrate the enormous capacity of the human imagination is tough in a pandemic environment. But we are optimistic that we can shapeshift plans if we need to. I had a great dream as we were finishing this programme: I was running down the street naked handing out glittery nail polish. I like to think that’s my subconscious showing me that’s the potential of a festival in times like these.”

Key Details:
Verb Readers & Writers Festival 2021
3 – 7 November (LitCrawl 6 November)

Website: verbwellington.nz

Key supporters:
Creative New Zealand, Wellington City Council, Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage, National Library of New Zealand, MBiE, The Dominion Post, Vic Books, Naumi Studio Wellington, BlueStar, Bowen Galleries, New Zealand Community Trust, HUIA Publishers, ReadNZ.


  1. Anna Fifield, 23. September 2021, 9:58

    Wow the Verb Wellington line-up looks INCREDIBLE. I wonder if I can get to *every single event.* [via twitter]

  2. Philip Matthews, 23. September 2021, 10:36

    Charlotte Grimshaw and Michele A’Court is a great combo. See also: Kim Hill vs Megan Dunn. [via twitter]


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