Friday was the opening night of the Emerging Writers’ Festival, called The First Word. There were performances by Josephine Rowe (spellbinding, as usual), Maxine Clarke (powerful) and The List Operators (hilarious), plus more. There was a ‘Call to Arms’ by comic book writer Shane McCarthy – in which he basically said: if you’re a writer, you’re a writer, fuck calling yourself anything else. People should fear writers! And he also mentioned that we should carry spears. I like that idea.
I was on a ‘Hypothetical’ panel alongside Michael Williams, Toni Jordan, Justin Heazlewood, Sandy Grant, PiO and Jason Steger. Michael Nolan presented us with a narrative about Steve, the aspiring writer from country Vic, and then asked us to fill in gaps in the story which led to (heated) discussions about what Melbourne’s status as a UNESCO City of Literature means. There was a balance of humour and conflict. A friend in the audience was anticipating the moment where PiO and Michael Williams or Jason Steger would pick up their chairs and thrust them at each other. Basically, PiO was worried about the institutionalisation of literature and voices ‘on the streets’ being compromised (or not getting funded). Williams, who is the head of programming for the forthcoming Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas was much more positive about its role and influence. I’m positive about it too – PiO did have some valid points, and good on him for being honest and arguing his case. But I think (and hope) the CBWI will have room for all sorts of voices, and will give books and writing a focus in the wider community. Or something. Anyway, I look forward to walking down that corridor and popping my head in the various organisations, hiring out rooms for interviews and literary work (Michael Williams, will there be a video camera in the Centre that booky-bloggers such as myself can use? And performance poets etc.? Let’s talk.)
So that was the sold-out, successful opening to the festival. Afterwards, things got fun, sexy and geeky all at once. The latter part of the night involved (many) shots (sweet, salty, aniseedy and almondy), the Thriller and Beat It dances, a fox, three pairs of glasses, stripy socks, and someone who may write a play about it all to be performed on tonight. Inspirational.
Today at the festival is the Speaker’s Corner in the Atrium at Federation Square, on now, and the 48-hour Play Generator – tonight. See the website for deets.
I hope some of you can pop along this week to 15 Minutes of Fame – the series of mini book launches I’m hosting at the City Library, 5:30pm each afternoon, with wine tastings. FREE! Mon 25th May, Tue 26th May, Wed 27th May, and Thu 28th May.
Some links for the week:
* I mentioned this on Twitter but not yet on the blog. I was recently interviewed for the Avid Reader newsletter. Check it out.
* The Auckland Writers’ and Readers’ Festival has wrapped up. See Beattie’s Book Blog for a lot of the goss. Also, I love these awards given by the Christchurch City Libraries blog. Great idea, really. I might have to steal it.
* Of course, the Sydney Writers’ Festival is also on. Due to my EWF duties, I am not attending. But I would sincerely love some reports, gossip and titbits for a possible round-up on here. Email me: literaryminded (at) gmail (dot) com.
* My friend, Genna Campton, has just moved to Melbourne, and she’s an awesome illustrator. I love the MJ one. And all of them, really. If you need illustrations, her contacts are on the blog.
* There’s a Melbourne blogger meet-up planned for Sunday 31 May. Not sure if I’ll be able to make it yet.
* Two new blog discoveries: Emilie Collyer, who had an awesome piece in the latest Torpedo, has a creative, thoughtful and immediate kind of blog, between the cracks; and The Heartbroke Daily is a great idea – collective stories of heartbreak.
* And last but seriously not least, is a little gem you may choose to ignore (because my microphone was too close and I’m loud) – a podcast I joined in on for my good friend Gerard’s film blog Celluloid Tongue. Please read his disclaimer before choosing to listen. And if you would just like to listen to us go on and on about our love for Synecdoche New York, go to about a third of the way through. I recommend this if you have seen the film and loved it. All our raw ramblings from head and heart about this shattering film might really click with you…