Holding The Space: Sydney Writers’ Festival heads to Western

Western Sydney University will host some of Australia’s leading writers and thinkers for Holding the Space, a night of food, music, and discussions of place: how it shapes who we are, our politics, friendships, sense of community and identity.

Held at Western’s Parramatta City Campus, the Sydney Writers’ Festival event will be an evening of stories, provocations and talks about place led by essayist Eda Gunaydin; Gomeroi poet, legal scholar, and essayist Alison Whittaker; writer, critic, and visual artist Anwen Crawford; and writer, researcher, curator, and archivist Ilhan Abdi – who will also host and DJ the afterparty. The event will be MC’d by writer, performer, producer, and director Maeve Marsden.

Essayist Eda Gunaydin, whose debut collection Root & Branch (UNSW Press) engages heavily in Western Sydney, said it is fitting that the event is taking place in the region.

“Western Sydney made me and is the only home I’ve ever known. Not only do I love Western Sydney, but it is also the setting for many of the essays in Root & Branch. In the collection I ask questions about the region, focusing on the urban development occurring in Parramatta; what it means to resist gentrification on colonised land; what Western Sydney 'is'; what narratives and stereotypes we hold about it; and what it means to be 'from' Western Sydney.

“Beyond questions about Western Sydney which will be discussed on the night no doubt, I think place is a vital topic of discussion for all. Every non-Indigenous person who lives in Australia has a duty to think about how we relate to place as settlers, including what responsibilities we have to this place and its traditional owners.

“I also find myself thinking a lot about place from the perspective of being a second-generation migrant. I find it dissatisfying when migrant stories emphasise that we are deficient or incomplete people, who are stuck between one place and another place, with no real 'home'. I prefer instead to think about how we can find fulfillment, wholeness, and homes where we are, by looking for community, engaging with politics here, and building relationships (including with place) right here.

“I’m looking forward to ‘holding the space’ at this event while discussing what it means to hold space.” said Eda.

Holding the Space, a Sydney Writers' Festival event is presented by The Finishing School, The Parramatta Artists’ Studios and the Writing and Society Research Centre at Western Sydney University. Supported by the City of Parramatta and Western Sydney University.

Event details:

What: Holding the Space
Date: Thursday, May 19, 2022
Time: 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Venue: Western Sydney University, Level 9, 1PSQ, 169 Macquarie Street, Parramatta

Tickets are free, but bookings are essential via this link.


6 May 2022

Emma Sandham, Senior Media Officer