The prestigious Sydney Writers' Festival officially kicks off on Monday but the Illawarra will get an early taster with a fringe event at Wollongong City Gallery on Sunday.
The Rocket Readings poetry meeting will host Northern Territory poet Kaye Aldenhoven, Nowra poet Irene Wilkie, and an open mic session for aspiring artists to share their work.
"It's always lively and a great crowd," said event host Linda Godfrey. "We've been doing Rocket Readings for five years, inviting prominent poets from all around."
The Wollongong-based Ms Godfrey, a poet herself, said the event allowed hidden talents to shine through.
"It is a relaxed and welcoming environment. People just turn up and put their name down to speak," she said.
Rocket Readings and another Writers' Festival fringe event, the Black Wallaby Indigenous Writer's Night on Thursday, are presented by the South Coast Writers' Centre.
Friederike Krishnabhakdi-Vasilakis, director of the centre, said they allowed a rare chance for locals to be involved with a high-profile writers' event.
"We have membership down to Bega and the Southern Highlands, and not everyone can get to Sydney," she said."It's an opportunity to mingle with the high-end writers, and for people to test the waters."
Rocket Readings is at the Wollongong City Gallery on Sunday from 1.30pm, while the Black Wallaby evening will run from 6.30pm on Thursday. Entry to both events is free.