Jesse’s Top Two … and Some Others to Look Out For: WORD Christchurch 2022

WORD Christchurch is on from Wednesday 31 August to Sunday 4 September 2022.

I can’t believe I’m saying this but in the four years since I started working at Christchurch City Libraries, I’ve never attended WORD! It shocks me just to think about it, but I’ll forgive myself because 2022 is the perfect year to make it my first. As always there are so many exciting literary events happening across Ōtautahi Christchurch. I am looking forward to reporting back on some of them, and even just heading along for fun to others.

This year WORD is bringing us a festival programme with in-person events, as well as livestreaming some for those who prefer to watch from home. There’s also a huge line-up of international guests via The Faraway Near, a unique concept where speakers join over video in discussion with a panellist while guests sit in a fantastical and intimate bar-esque venue situated in Tūranga. The Faraway Near guests include writer and activist Rebecca Solnit, sci-fi novelist Emily St John Mandel (Station Eleven), Indian powerhouse Annie Zaidi, the surreal Ottessa Moshfegh, novelist Heather Morris, David Mitchell, Rachel Kushner, and Pip Williams (author of The Dictionary of Lost Words).

Other stand out events include (and I might be biased here!) - the pre-festival event An Evening with Liane Moriarty, Kate De Goldi: Earthquakes and Cathedrals, Indelible: Tattoo Tales, Out here: An Anthology of Takatapui and LGBTQIA+ Writers from Aotearoa, If I Were a Story and You Were a Song: David Mitchell and Tiny Ruins, and The Gentrification Blues and Comedy Hour.

This year’s programme is nothing if not exciting and innovative…so what am I looking forward to? Let’s take a look!

The Faraway Near: Rebecca Solnit
Friday 2 September, 10am to 11am
Book tickets

Rebecca Solnit, born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, grew up in a violent household where “everything feminine and female was hated” she has said of her childhood (Caitlin, 2014). Throughout her career she has worked on human rights and environmental campaigns and discussed her interest in climate change, feminism, politics, art, and place. She has received two NEA fellowships for literature, and her 2013 book The Faraway Nearby was nominated for a National Book Award.

Solnit's numerous ground-breaking books include Recollections of my Nonexistence, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, and Men Explain Things to Me. In her latest book, Orwell’s Roses, she focuses on the life and legacy of novelist, essayist, and critic George Orwell and discusses his relationship between gardening and his other political commitments. Rebecca joins Morgan Godfery live from the United States as part of The Faraway Near. This is an event that literary lovers will not want to miss – I can’t wait to attend!

Rebecca Solnit has published 20 books. Find books by Rebecca Solnit in our collection, including:


Clementine Ford: How We Love
Thursday 1 September: 6pm to 7pm
Book tickets

Attracting charged attacks from critics and love from fans, Clementine Ford is among the most combative and fearless voices in contemporary feminism. Ford’s incendiary debut Fight Like a Girl is an essential manifesto full of rage, wit, and insight. She is unapologetic and demands that the world can do better. In Boys Will Be Boys she writes about male entitlement, power and abuse, and rape culture. Her latest book How We Love, turns her heartache and joy into a memoir that reflects on love itself. It’s a heartfelt and personal departure from her previous work. You’ll find yourself laughing, crying, and angry all at once.

Clementine joins Naomi van den Broek live on stage at The Piano for a candid conversation through the loves of her own life: romantic, platonic, scary, familial, and perhaps hardest of all, self-love. I look forward to hearing Ford talk about love, and how she feels about being such a combative voice for feminism in the twenty-first century.

You can find all three of Clementine Ford’s books at Christchurch City Libraries:


Other Events I Recommend

 There are so many things in this year’s programme to keep an eye on. Here are three other events I recommend taking a look at.

Out Here: An Anthology of Takatapui and LGBTQIA+ Writers from Aotearoa
Friday 2 September: 4pm to 5pm

In Out Here LGBTQIA+ writers set out to fill the silence that homophobia and erasure have created in New Zealand society. Join the anthology’s editors Chris Tse and Emma Barnes for dive into the diversity of Queer writing today with readings from Ray Shipley, AJ Fitzwater, and others.

This session is held at The Piano for in-person audiences and offered as a livestream event for those watching from home. Limited is entry and on a first come first served basis. Find out more

Out Here

No Other Place to Stand: Creativity and Climate Change
Saturday 3 September: 4.30pm to 5.30pm

Join human rights and climate change campaigners Kera Sherwood-O’Regan in discussion with the editors of new publication No Other Place to Stand – a climate poetry anthology. They’ll discuss how poetry can get us past the language of science and policy to where the human and ecological meet. Find out more.

No Other Place to Stand

Crime After Crime: Ngaio Marsh Awards Edition
Thursday 15 September: 6.30pm to 7:45pm
Book tickets

This is a ‘post WORD Festival’ event being held on Thursday September 15 at the Tautoru TSB Space, Tūranga. Three global crime writing superstars will be in attendance for a conversation about the inner workings of their minds, the challenges of understanding terrible people, and why as a society do we find gritty material so hard to put down. Join the Queen of Crime, Val McDermid, Australia’s own Michael Robotham, and Aotearoa’s finest crime writer J.P Pomare in conversation with Vanda Symon.

Val and Michael will also present the 2022 Ngaio Marsh Awards for Best Novel and Best First Novel. Join as we find out who will take come these coveted mystery and crime prizes!

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