When we talk about love, we think of firelit dinners, roses, grand gestures and inevitable heartache. This year’s Melbourne Writers Festival promises none of these things, instead offering a variety of panel discussions, exhibitions and interactive media curated by some of our most adored creative minds. With Marieke Hardy continuing as artistic director, the festival aims at connecting writers from all over the world as they try to unpack love in all its forms.

Here are some of the upcoming events that already have our collective hearts palpitating.

Let’s Talk Love with Bigoa Chuol
Saturday August 31st, The Wheeler Centre, FREE.

As social media continues to sell us the self-care narrative of bubble baths and turmeric lattes, writer Bigoa Chuol offers an alternative approach to the way we look after our physical and mental health. This panel discussion will focus on how we can move into a space of love towards ourselves and communities regardless of what is presented to us by media and culture.

Bigoa Chuol is a writer, poet and performer based in Melbourne who will facilitate this discussion around how love can be given to those who aren’t visible in communities, how we can love through hardship, through addiction and how we can extend this love to ourselves unconditionally when others don’t.

Museum of Broken Relationships
Exhibition opening Saturday 31st August; runs until 29th September. No Vacancy Gallery, FREE.

Still holding on to a trinket from a past romance? This month-long exhibition will showcase the true experience of a love lost. Including personal stories and pieces from a permanent collection in Zagreb and Los Angeles, this exhibition will have you keeping a close eye on your belongings.

Opening night will feature creators Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić in conversation with Honor Eastly as they discuss their journey creating this exhibition after the end of their four-year relationship and surprising stories shared by contributors.

You can donate an item and story of heartbreak to the museum before the 7th of August for a chance to be featured in one of Europe’s most daring collections. Who knows? Your ex might stroll through on a Tinder date and find their missing watch wasn’t lost in a move after all.

 Marry your Friends
Saturday 31st August, The Toff in Town, standard ticket.

Ever wanted to tie the knot with your bestie? Want to ensure you’ll have someone by your side through thick and thin, rich and poor, for better or for worse? Make things official by attending this hour-long commitment ceremony, where love guru and award-winning Australian poet Emilie Zoey Baker will conduct a mass friendship marriage service. Make sure the friend you’ve chosen is the one: BYO rings and vows.

The Melbourne Writers Festival 2019 runs from Friday 30th August to Sunday 8th September. Check out the full program here.

Like what you see? Going Down Swinging has a free Festival Pass to give away! Enter the draw using the competition code ‘GDS’ to win access to five events.

Darcy Rock is a writer and musician. She’s currently completing her bachelor’s in Creative Writing at RMIT and interns at Going Down Swinging. Find her tweet and gram @darcysrocks.

Photo from Melbourne Writers Festival.