Sunday, May 1, 2011

Williamstown Literary Festival 2011: my highlights

How much fun can one have in 4 days?

This was the 8th Williamstown Literary Festival and I think I have only missed one and for two of them I was on the committee working for the youth program.

The festivities kicked off on the Wednesday and went through till Sunday and with such a stretch, participation had to be woven around work

My involvement began with the Peoples Choice Awards at the Pirates Tavern - an open mic event of poetry and prose. The folk who turned up to read were practised, and skilled wordsmiths, making for a night of excellence. Michael Reynolds hosted the poetry and with his casual and warm personality established a wonderful tone for the evening. The winner for this section was was Lily Chan.

My job was to introduce the prose readers who had to get their stories across in only 3 mins. With careful selection and well rehearsed
readings, the participants held the room.

Matthew Lang with his story about cheese and raisins was the runaway winner of this section.

While the votes were counted I took the opportunity to share the story of the making of the kamishibai by Ted Smith for the oral storytellers in Melbourne. Although an adult night, I demonstrated this storytelling form using The Princess and the Pea as the art work was
created by local artist Leonie Kervin who has recently taken residence in the new Riverside Studios in West Melbourne. So much talent and generosity in our community.

Saturday the Festival began with a smoking ceremony and the relaunching of Yalukit Willam: the first people of Hobsons Bay. Aunty Caroline Briggs and Brendon conducted the cermemony on the lawn in front of the
Williamstown Town Hall. This small publication will soon be available on the council website so at last people can read about the indigenous people who once lived in our area. I can't tell you how thrilled we are that this step has been taken by council. My community grows richer every year.

Friend Claire Saxby hosted a brilliant session with author and illustrator Alison Lester. Claire had researched Alison's work thoroughly and her engaging style had thoughtful questions drew the very best out of this wonderful festival guest.

Another of my favourite sessions included Tanya Ha and Anna Krien. Tanya is a great favourite in our house - wonderful practical advice on living cleaner, greener lives. Anna Spoke about her book Into the Woods, a journalist's account of the environmental issues in Tasmania. I bought a copy and am already half way through reading - informative, poetic, intelligent.

I'm a fan of the Festival and I thank all the volunteers who spent so many hours planning and hosting this enriching program.

This year the Festival website has a fabulous blog. Megan Bourke could be spotted with tapping away on her laptop here there and everywhere. Check out Megan's work, she's terrific: Williamstown Literary Festival Blog

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