As the Melanesian Arts and Culture Festival (MACFEST) inches closer, an exciting, first ever literary component, Haus Storian, has been finalised.

A number of passionate literary advocates have joined hands with organisations to put together an exciting itinerary to promote Melanesian voices in the form of storytelling, prose, and poetry.

Haus Storian will run alongside other important parts of the festival, from 24 to 28 July 2023 in Port Vila at the Alliance Francaise.

Creating a literary space for Melanesian creatives at the festival helps to highlight the significance of this art form. It also provides linkages to the larger Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture (FESTPAC) and the literary activities within the wider Pacific festival programme and beyond.

MACFEST provides an opportunity for the sub-region to reflect on ways to gather Melanesian writers and to create awareness about locally produced books as well as to encourage the sale of these products at the festival itself.

The link between literature and social consciousness is a primary point of discussion for educators, scholars, creatives, and literary analysis. Establishing a literary arts space at MACFEST provides an intervention to understand what Melanesian writers and poets are writing and thinking about, and translating their life experiences and observations.

The key events of Haus Storian include a short story Writers Masterclass and Creative Writing Workshop on Micro and Flash Fiction with award-winning author and poet Mikaela Nyman on 24 and 25 July at Alliance Francaise, a workshop on the ‘Mighty Melanesian Girl’ with BookLab and a ‘Kava Literature’ session with readings by writers in different Melanesian languages on 27 July, a Poetry Slam on 28 July, and the Sisterhood Creed: Celebrating Melanesian Spirit on 28 July, as well as many more. A registration page for the workshops is available here.

Each of the participating organisations will bring a unique contribution to Haus Storian.

A book fair coordinated by the Alliance Francaise will run from 24 to 28 July. Writers and artists who are bringing books to sell are encouraged to organise this through the Alliance Francaise.

The Asia Foundation will bring together a BookLab session based on their “Let’s Read” initiative. The authors and illustrators would be engaged in the process of creating accessible stories for Pacific children. Practical examples will be shared on the values of “Let’s Read” in creating relatable content for Pacific children.

Sista and Melanesian Women Today will bring together the threads of stories of women and society, while Nabanga Pikinini will add youth-engaged sessions to the schedule. Haus Storian provides an opportunity for Melanesian writers to visit schools, do readings, and engage with students and other creatives on their writing.

Partners of Haus Storian include the Government of Vanuatu, Alliance Francaise, Commonwealth Foundation, The Asia Foundation, Melanesian Women Today, Sista, and Nabanga Pikinini. Writers, poets and storytellers from across Melanesia will be participating in this inaugural event.

Keep an eye out for more details on Haus Storian on the social media pages of MACFEST and partner organisations.