2022 wrap: it’s been a quiet year, with no Australian salons (but things happening in NZ). We have some exciting things in the works for Oz next year but can’t announce yet.
Happy and safe summer to all. ^ Jenny

2022 update: For more recent news on the New Zealand Bad Diaries salons (during Covid times, the only ones to go ahead), head to co-curator Tracy Farr’s page, where she has everything laid out really nicely!

‘An evening of wonders – raucous, moving, hilarious,
and provocative. Often all at once.’

AJ Finn (aka Dan Mallory, US), #RISK, Christchurch, 31 August 2018

The Bad Diaries Salons quickly became a crowd favourite, so much so that I appeared on the radio, doing a short reading, with William McInnes (actor: Sea Change, Blue Heelers, and writer) ahead of our salon #GET_REAL at Geelong Library, in 2018. You can listen here. (If you ever wondered what William would have been like as a school-boy, this interview answers that question.)

Bad Diaries Salon update, end 2019 before Covid hit and scuttled plans almost everywhere:

We’re closing the year having run several salons in 2019. In addition to the one below, at Willy Lit Fest in the middle of the year, we ran two in New Zealand, one in Perth and the last one for the season in Geelong at the Word for Word Festival in November.

At Geelong, we had a fabulous line-up and because the group shots were so good, here’s all four:

 Geelong poster – the theme was #OPEN

‘What a warm and uplifting event – to hear from some great writers as they excavate their bedrock. A great concept and very well executed. I hope to attend many more.’

Carrie Tiffany, after attending (not reading at) Bad Diaries Salon #INFLUENCED,
Buck Mulligan’s, 10 July 2018

‘The Geelong BDS was a feast of gentle self-mockery and genuine belly-laughs. Writers spend a lot of time pretending their work is flawless, effortless, weightless. And here you are in a room with the ones you admire, listening to them laughing at their own face-palms and cringes. More than anything, it brings on a sigh of relief – turns out we’ve all had a dip in the Sea of Cliché.’

Jock Serong, reader at #first, 2018

Earlier this year, the terrific Tracy Farr (did you know she produces some of the posters including the above? She is MULTI talented) curated and MC’d — and in some cases read at — salons in Christchurch (August), Perth (October) and Wellington (November).

chch shift

‘Come for the public humiliation, stay for the deeply comforting realisation that we all start from the same place.’

Sarah Krasnostein, reader at #influenced, july 2018
wellington crush

‘Going public with work that you never intended anyone
to hear is dangerous, challenging and potentially the most fun
an author can have.’

Stacy Gregg, #RISK, Christchurch, 31 August 2018

 ‘Bad Diaries Salon was a wildly enjoyable opportunity to read
in public the stuff I felt I shouldn’t show anyone, which is of course
the only stuff worth writing.’

Rob Doyle (IRELAND), #FIVE at LitCrawl, Wellington, 10 November 2018

Here are some pics from those events:

ABOVE: Perth #BURN: Sisonke Msimang, Michelle Johnston, Annabel Smith, AJ Betts & Holden Sheppard

ABOVE: Wellington #CRUSH Kate Camp, Christos Tsiolkas, Victor Rodger, Renee Liang (& TF photobombing top left)

‘Re-engaging with first drafts and diaries and sharing them in public at the Bad Diaries Salon was cathartic for me. I was reminded that writing is my lifelong passion and experienced a great sense of solidarity with the other writers. Best of all, it was enormous fun.’


shift chch

ABOVE: Christchurch #SHIFT Rachael King, Tracy Farr, Ben Brown, Karen Healey, Tusiata Avia

Thanks to all readers and everyone who came along to a salon to listen and revel (and perhaps have a little weep or a big laugh).

See you in 2020. We’re already rubbing our hands together with what we will bring you. Keep well and keep writing those diaries!


‘Bad Diaries rips into a writer’s soul. It lets out the juice of memory, the folly of youth, the extremes, the emotions, the angst. But in doing so it is the most authentic way of hearing an author’s true and original voice. No prettying up or pretence. No editing or artifice. What a joy to be able to share the moments and the strangeness of life, on stage, under a spotlight in front of a lonely microphone. Bad diaries is truth.’

Michelle Johnston, #BURN Perth Oct 2019

Wow. Already more than half way through 2019 so you might be wondering what’s the deal with the salons this year? Well, I can say we have had a quiet first half but did stage a salon at the Willy Lit Fest in June, it was fab and here is the poster:


Again it was a wonderful salon with readers performing, time travelling, entertaining and moving the rest of us with their selected readings. (Thanks once more to Maestro R Lukins for artwork, as well as to the festival organisers especially Stella for all her hard work pulling the reader list together!)

We have four more 2019 salons in the pipeline that aren’t announced yet. Once we can let you know then of course we will let you know.

Until then: don’t go changing

*nose wrinkle*

‘The first Bad Diaries Salon I went to was in a small cafe in North Melbourne, and the authors read from old diaries. It was illuminating and hugely entertaining to say the least – our younger selves so funny, sad and sometimes desperate, but above all, the writing reflected the seeds of what we were to become. What we wrote in our diaries years ago was acutely observed, deeply felt and deadly in its accuracy reading characters. Listening to the readers at that first salon, I understood what talent actually is, and I saw that we writers had always been alive to the foibles of humans, and of course, the characters that now live in our fictional worlds.’

Rosalie Ham, reader at inaugural salon

November Salons

We have three upcoming salons in November.

1. 10 November in New Zealand at the Wellington LitCrawl. Theme is #FIVE and details are here.

2. 4pm Sunday 18 November, at the Geelong Word for Word National Non-Fiction Festival, theme is #GET REAL. Tickets on sale here.

3. 7pm Wednesday 21 November at Buck Mulligan’s Whisky Bar + Bookshop in Northcote. This is a FREE event, and unticketed.
Theme is #CLUELESS.


‘At Bad Diaries ‘Spin’ salon, I read from the diary I wrote when I was 13. This diary detailed, painfully, my utter obsession with the Australian test cricket team, and with Bruce Yardley – an old man with a moustache – in particular. I expected to be booed off the stage. Instead, I got such a warm reception that I even began to forgive my 13-year-old self for being such a bizarre weirdo. Thanks, Bad Diaries.’

jane rawson, early co-curator of the salon, read at #spin

‘Bad Diaries Salon is a unique and powerful experience for both the performer and the audience. It celebrates the honesty and beauty in the unabashed writing we do when we think nobody will ever read it – and the sharing of these arcane gems (and, sometimes, arcane turds, let’s face it) is an incredible ride unlike nothing else. The shared vulnerability at Bad Diaries Salon, and the way this forms a kind of invisible contract of trust and safety between the performer and audience, is something I have not found anywhere else. I cannot recommend Bad Diaries Salon highly enough and I feel endlessly privileged to have had the chance to be a part of it.’

Holden Sheppard, #BURN Perth Oct 2019

‘Such fun and who knew my book of very bad poems would
gain currency after all these years.’

Justine Sless, #CLUELESS Melbourne 21 Nov 2018

Salon update – September 2018

We hosted a salon in Christchurch recently as a part of the WORD festival. It was the first time the salon has gone international and it was a BLAST. New readers, new theme of #RISK. It was a great night, and one of the funniest salons we’ve done, yet there was also poignancy and pain; the sharp observations and memories that we have when we look back on our lives. Thanks to readers: AJ Finn, Stacy Gregg, Ray Shipley and Emily Writes. Posters whipped up by multi-talented (& MC for the evening) Tracy Farr.


‘For a writer, the subconscious is the bad diary that’s perpetually open, always ready to hand over the megaphone to the inner critic, the anxiety disorder, or impostor syndrome.’

Chris Price, #FIVE at LitCrawl, Wellington, 10 November 2018

‘Bad Diaries Salon was a safe, warm and exceptionally fun environment to explore some writing I never thought would see the light of day again. I felt well supported and encouraged in the process.’

Ray Shipley, #RISK, Christchurch, 31 August 2018


‘Leading up to the Bad Diaries Salon, I was hoping to fall down a small flight of stairs, have a minor car accident, or contract some contagious but non-life-threatening disease — nothing too serious, just enough to get me out of doing it. I couldn’t believe I’d agreed to read from my excruciatingly bad teenage diary in front of an audience! On the night, telling my angsty tale of first love was actually fun, and funny — so many laughs and groans of recognition from the audience. The Bad Diaries Salon organisers and audience were wonderfully supportive, and made it feel like a safe space for airing some very embarrassing moments. The readers were all hilarious and brave, and much of the writing was surprisingly good, in a bad way!’

Tania Chandler, reader at #influenced, july 2018

Winter 2018 series

Blarney Books + Art, Port Fairy [Saturday 7 July]. #DELETED

Buck Mulligan’s Whiskey Bar + Bookshop, Northcote [Tuesday 10 July]. #INFLUENCED

Geelong Library + Heritage Centre, Geelong [Wednesday 11 July] #FIRST


‘Sharing my seventeen-year-old secrets with a room of (kind) strangers was both terrifying and exhilarating. To revisit my younger self conjured many emotions, including pride, frustration, embarrassment, and love.
It’s not usual to see fellow authors as bare as this. We saw each other as hollow and hopeful in a way that reminds us we’re all the same. What a unique privilege it was.’

AJ Betts, #BURN Perth Oct 2019

‘The Bad Diaries Salon has been a fantastic experience. Revisiting my over-wrought, teenage self was at times heartbreaking, hilarious and embarrassing. Reading it to an audience was fun – after the event – and believe it all not, affirming. Amidst the laughter were wry smiles and nods of recognition. If you’re lucky enough to be asked to read your diaries, do it! And if there is an event near you – go!’

Sue Lawson, #GET_REAL Nov 2018

Influenced-1[Winter series posters designed by Robert Lukins]

The concept


Five published writers read for ten minutes, to a theme, from their terrible old diaries or other juvenilia. It can be bad poetry. Terrible song lyrics. Stories written in childhood. No writing to purpose, no editing or revising. Events are not recorded, there are no auditions or submissions, and the salons are proving candid, hilarious, rare, unique and special. And awkward. See posters for some of the fabulous Australian writers who have read at a Bad Diaries Salon so far. We are planning more salons for 2018, so stay tuned for announcements here and on FB. If you are a published Australian writer and would like to read, if you have gold in diary or early works form, please get in touch via the contact page. We will also be looking at running salons with other groups of five: musicians, journos, visual artists, dancers and so on. So likewise, if you have some old teen diaries burning a hole in your psyche, please let me know. Readers are paid, some events are free and some ticketed.

You can read here about the Perth salon REGRETS, and two of the Melbourne salons TRIPS and MISTAKES.

In the meantime, while you cool your impatient heels, if you can access it, have a listen to a chat on TRIPLE RRR, about the Bad Diaries project. I’m on about 1:35 hrs in.

I also chatted with ABC Bendigo and ABC Ballarat in the week of 7 July about the Port Fairy salon.

You can follow Bad Diaries on Facebook & Twitter

Bad Diaries Salon poster artwork by Robert Lukins, Esq.