Saturday, April 6, 2013

Newcastle Writers Festival Saturday Recap

Yesterday was a big day for me at the Newcastle Writers Festival  and I had the great pleasure of doing
some reading from Sublime Planet at Sprocket's Cafe, and the even greater pleasure of listening to some other wonderful poets reading too, amidst the delicious scent of freshly roasted coffee and pastries.  After that it was straight over to the Lock Up Cultural Centre for a conversation on the State of Australian Poetry with Jean Kent, David Musgrave, Anna Kerdijk Nicholson, and Philip Salom, who all spoke with depth and lucidity about a range of questions as wide reaching as the Australian voice, the importance of indigenous poetry, the impact  of creative writing courses, the impact of the Internet, why we are in a "golden age" of poetry (and the great divide too), the impact of small poetry houses, and lots of advice for readers and writers.  The value of reading literary journals and reading the work of others was mentioned - you could do a lot worse than starting with these four amazing poets, but we did reference this article by Kent MacCarter at Cordite: and Mascara was mentioned several times as well.

I skipped (in my heeled boots) straight over from the Lock up to the Newcastle Business Centre where the crowds were queuing (and a few people were hoping for last minute standing room tickets as the session was sold-out) for my session with Ramona Koval.  I'm now regretting that I didn't hand my camera to someone in the Ramona Koval audience like I did with the State of Poetry session (and big thanks to that photographer, whose name I didn't get but who chased me out of the building to give me my camera back), so I have no photos of my session, but hopefully someone else will put a few photos up somewhere and in the meantime you'll have to take my word on it that Ramona was her usual bubbly, chatty, delightful self, interspersing deep wisdom with tidbits of light-hearted and sometimes poignant biography and reading to us about the Kama Sutra and the ribald antics of the Romans, despite having bronchitis.  The audience was lively and engaged and I'm sure we could easily have gone on for another hour as hands were still waving to ask questions, if the timekeeper at the back didn't gently and subtly tap her watch and wink at me so I was reminded to close the session.

There's still another day of activities at the NWF and if you're anywhere in the vicinity you really must get over to experience the amazing atmosphere, and sessions on such things as writing the thriler with Jaye Ford, Wendy James and Caroline Overington, the David Marr hosted session with Major General John Cantwell on his memoir Exit Wounds, Felicity Biggins' super popular session with John Wiltshire, Amanda Hooten and Miriam Margolyes on Pride and Prejudice (sold-out twice over but I think they've moved the venue to allow for more tickets), and many many more - you can check out the program here:

and if you missed it all, don't fret.  The Festival was so successful, so beautifully managed, and popular that I have no doubt in my mind at all that we'll be repeating it again next year.  I'm already excited about it.

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