Same Same But Different NZ
I’m writing this from a hospital bed in Ward 67 Room 4c at Auckland
Hospital, where I’m being treated for cancer. These are not orthodox
words to introduce the third outing of the same same but different LGBTQI
Writers Festival, but in one way they evoke risk, challenge and even maybe a kind of daring – as this festival has always set out to do. We started same same to give ourselves – our words, feelings, frustrations, our opinions, outrage and even our contemplated silences – a very special space in which we could communicate.
In three short years we have created a festival which is energetic and complex, acknowledging our brilliant elders, such as Renée, as well as attracting the brightest young talent New Zealand has to offer. Snapchat dude Tom Sainsbury stands beside Madeleine Sami; the sensation of the moment Hera Lindsay Bird alongside Courtney Sina Meredith and Best First Book award-winner Gina Cole. Same same 2018 is a complex queer mix, with visiting Australian writer and poet Quinn Eades, Wellington poet Chris Tse, provocative queers in academia as well as our always popular
Gala events. Pick and mix, pop in and go off; it is our pleasure to provide this picnic of words, verse, laughter, memory, insight, anger and self-realisation.
After the successful launch of the same same but different festival in 2016, we are back with another vibrant weekend of queer writing and writers specifically for a New Zealand audience. As you will see in this programme, we have gathered a scintillating array of writers to enchant, entertain, challenge and infuriate you.
This year we have expanded the festival to include writers both from New Zealand and overseas. During the past 12 months, talented local LGBTQI writers have published for the first time, often to great critical acclaim, while writers abroad continue to give voice to the lives and concerns of queer people everywhere. We hope you enjoy samesame but different 2017. We guarantee you a stimulating and enjoyable weekend.
Click below to download the programme
I was always a very timid boy. This was after I was bullied at Mt Albert Grammar. But I have to thank the bullies because I became a writer, which enabled me to say on paper what I couldn’t say out loud. But when I’m at festivals and faced with an audience, I always have an involuntary reaction. For one moment the audience turns into the boys at MAGS and I close down. I learnt to get past this moment of primal fear and in fact I began to feel the enormous freedom of being able to say exactly what I wanted. I developed what is called ‘a sharp tongue’. Written and spoken language became my weapon.
This small journey is the experience of many LGBTQI people. Language is our first line of defence. We changed the hurtful words so often used to describe us and claimed the upbeat ‘gay’ in the 1970s. From there we went on to use many other terms that we ourselves chose. Language is what defines us as humans. Choice is what makes us who we are.
One of the pleasures of putting this festival together has been celebrating the strong voices of the present with writers as distinguished as Witi Ihimaera, Victor Rodger and Joanne Drayton. But a surprise has been the discovery of new voices. These fresh new voices redefine the experience of what it is to be human and to see the world from a new LGBTQI perspective. My hope is that same same but different will introduce a heightened awareness of the timbre and reach of our voice but also celebrate the richness inherent in difference.
All writers and readers festivals are a version of talking up a storm. Let me now step aside with a bow and the talking begin.