Two to the Power of Five: The power of queer words

Held from July 24-26th 2020, Two to the Power of Five: The Power of Queer Words was a special winter online festival that paired up fascinating queer writers for five fantastic online conversations. The sessions were all free and held thanks to the support of Creative NZ.

The lineup of talent included international guests Eileen Myles and Nevo Zisin, as well as an amazing lineup of Aotearoa’s top LGBTQI+ writing talent.

“Samesame but Different is held every February during Auckland’s Pride Festival, but the Covid-19 lockdown got us thinking about brightening up the middle of the year with some stimulating conversations between queer writers,” said Samesame but Different’s Simie Simpson. “Two to the Power of Five was an exciting event for us, because it gave us the chance to invite more people to be inspired by the creativity of the writers we’re showcasing.”

“We thought really hard about how to set up a programme that people can enjoy in their PJs, with a cuppa from the comfort of their living rooms,” said Sam Orchard, Samesame but Different’s Creative Director. “We’ll record the sessions so people can watch them again whenever they feel like it – as well as entertaining and stimulating people on the day, we’re establishing what we know will be a great future resource for queer writers from all over Aotearoa.”


Queer Writing Now

Friday July 24th, 7pm

How do we understand what queer writing is now? And is that kind of understanding even possible? Incredibly talented poets Chris TSE and Emma BARNES are trying to answer those questions in their roles as editors of an upcoming anthology of queer writing from Aotearoa. They chat with Chris BRICKELL about their collaboration, and the uplifting and (sometimes) arduous process of selecting the work of New Zealand queer writers for this eagerly anticipated collection.

Media Matters

Saturday 25th July, 11am

It’s a time of unprecedented upheaval in media. Business models are broken, but old certainties are also being overturned. Sometimes it seems like there is more space to tell LGBTQI+ stories than there ever has been. So how do we tell our stories in this tumultuous age? How can queer voices and issues be better represented in mainstream media? Journalists Alison MAU (Stuff) and Felix DESMARAIS (Rotorua Daily Post/NZME) talk to former Paperboy editor Jeremy HANSEN about the highs and lows of their careers, the tales they most want to see told, and how their own experiences shape the stories they tell.


Saturday 25th July, 2pm

It’s not often you have writers with such substantial experience on hand to share the secrets of their craft. Here, two writing veterans illuminate their approach, philosophy and practice, and share ideas for you to apply to your own work. This writing workshop features renowned author Renee (Ngāti Kahungungu/Scots) and acclaimed New York Times bestselling writer Joanne DRAYTON. They are hosted by Gina COLE, an award-winning poet and fiction writer.


Sunday 26th July, 11am

The boundaries of poetry are constantly being tested and broken, as new generations of writers unearth undiscovered creative potential in the form. In this talk, two powerhouse poets discuss the breaking of boundaries and gender binaries in their work. Featuring Ockhams 2020 poetry finalist essa may RANAPIRI and international guest and poet Eileen MYLES in this don’t-miss discussion of personality and poetry with author Tulia THOMPSON.


Sunday 26th July, 2pm THE LIBERATION AND RISKS OF WRITING A MEMOIR: How do LGBTQI+ people tell their stories? Is it possible to give an honest account of your personal history without alienating important people in your life? And in the absence of an abundance of queer voices, what responsibility does a writer hold for telling a story that also feels right and rings true to their communities? In this talk, first-time author Lil O’BRIEN – whose memoir Not That I’d Kiss a Girl was released in June 2020 – and our international guest, Australian author Nevo ZISIN, whose memoir Finding Nevo addressed gender transition, talk to Sam ORCHARD about their approaches to writing honestly and sensitively, and reaching for the truth.