Jules Verne went around the world in 80 days, but I’m not quite so ambitious, I’ll settle for around the Pacific in five writers festivals. I absolutely love this time of the year when literary festivals release their programmes – and what programmes they are.
I love listening to authors speak their minds about anything and everything. Some are surprisingly shy, others amaze with their strong, unwavering command of an audience. I wish I could indulge my passion, but my bank account does not have an elasticised “spending” button which stretches to meet my wants, rather than my needs. Living in Brisbane, going to just the Australian festivals alone would cost a pretty penny, but if I included the festivals in Christchurch New Zealand and Ubud, Indonesia, I would probably give the bank manager a heart attack – best I keep below their radar!
Kicking off the second half of the year is the Melbourne Writers Festival (MWF) from 24 August until 2 September. This is the first MWF program from artistic director Marieke Hardy, who took over from former director Lisa Dempster. Hardy said this year’s festival theme, ‘A Matter of Life and Death’, is ‘a reflection on the things people reach for in order to survive and those moments where we look to words for comfort’. Hardy added: ‘It is a celebration of empathy. Yes, life is hard, but we are in it together.’ Click for programme here This is a seriously eclectic programme as you might expect from Marieke Hardy.
Developed in partnership with the MWF is the Canberra Writers Festival (CWF) running from 23 to 26 August with the theme: ‘power, politics and passion’, My pick from the amazingly diverse programme is a ‘Girls’ Night In’ closing night event, featuring Kathy Lette, Annabel Crabb, Nikki Gemmell, Bridie Jabour and Jean Kittson – that is one list of talented ladies! Mind you the opening night event is a dinner with the awesome Maggie Beer – ummm what to choose. Click here for full details of the CWF.
Now here’s a dilemma for someone who loves this city dearly as I do; the 2018 WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival, runs from 29 August to 2 September, overlapping the MWF. The festival program includes 120 writers and speakers, with a focus on the theme of adventure.
Wonder how much a private plane at my disposal for the period 23 August to 2 September, big enough to fly back and forth across the Tasman a few times would cost? ( Bank Manager has now turned a funny shade of greenish puce and is muttering something about early retirement.)
I’ll arrive home just in time for the Brisbane Writers Festival, 3 through 6 September, enjoying dinner with the author of The Devil Wears Prada, Lauren Weisberger.
One event I most definitely won’t miss is the opening on 6 September by Geoffrey Robertson Q.C.: Rather His Own Man. I’ll be enthralled as he wryly observes the absurdities of growing up as one of ‘Ming’s kids’; the passion of student protest in the sixties and his early crusades for ‘Down Under-dogs’, before leaving on a Rhodes Scholarship to combat the British establishment. The full programme for the BWF is available here.
A few weeks to catch my breath, see my family then off to The Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF), between 24 and 28 October. The theme of this year’s festival is ‘Jagadhita’, meaning the individual pursuit of universal harmony and prosperity as one of life’s primary goals, interpreted in English as ‘The World We Create’. The programme is being finalised still but if you click here some details are available.
Okay, that’s my wish list – what’s yours?