It's a little late but I thought I might share a few highlights of the Emerging Writers' Festival. The town hall program in particular. Although I didn't take any notes during any of the sessions I attended, so perhaps this is more of a memory game, though I'd like to think the bits I recall must have meant more to me than some of the others.
It would be wrong not to start with the Artist's party that was held on Friday night at the Wheeler Centre. Though if you follow Angela's blog, you'll know already that I had myself a good time. And why not. I didn't have to fulfil my hosting duties until Sunday morning, so the least I could do was assist the organisers by taking some of that wine off their hands, right?
Aside from the alcoholic pleasures, the party was an excellent opportunity to chat with other writers and I particularly enjoyed meeting Chris Downes, who spoke on the panel A short note on process that I hosted, and Jeremy Balius from Black Rider Press.
It's not often I get the opportunity to drink, either because I have to wake to to the call of 'mum-mum' that comes too early every morning, or because, well, put simply, Cockatoo is not within walking distance to anywhere. So staying in the city was an excellent plan and having a roomie made it even better, as we got to spill our showbags together and share excitement over the smallest tidbits of festival news.
Saturday offered a pretty full on program which began with Seven Enviable Lines, where the festival ambassadors shared seven secrets they wish they'd known when they started out. This event has been reviewed here and here, so all I'm going to add is that Sean Riley was my favourite, even though I've never even tried to write a play. Even as I listened to him I couldn't help but wonder if some of the newer writers at the festival realise that the advice doesn't apply just to plays but to any and all forms of writing, or if some took him (and others) literally.
I weaved in and out of various sessions throughout the afternoon, and landed at the festival club afterwards, although I had just water given someone had the foresight to schedule me to be articulate and presentable by 10am on a Sunday!
Our session A short note on process went well, although I can't say I expected to take away this advice from a writers' festival: don't take drugs. Chris Downes wowed the audience by acting out illustrations from his comics. Mischa Merz took us to the shrink's couch. Myke Bartlett struck a personal chord as he spoke of never writing anything until close to the deadline (thankfully I've learned to treat my pretend ones at least semi-seriously) and Steph Bowe was so amazing she perhaps impressed the not-so-new writers while possibly making some of the newer ones feel inadequate because they hadn't achieved half as much as her despite several extra years. You can read her presentation here.
I'm with Irma Gold as far as highlights go. My favourite panel was You want me to do WHAT? a discussion on promoting, or prostituting, yourself. All panellists were entertaining, although I particularly enjoyed Sean M Whelan's advice of what not to do when speaking/performing in public. Because there's always been someone (or two) who does one or all of these things at every poetry reading I've been to. For specifics, see Thuy Linh Nguyen's write-up.
Although now that I've said that, I hope none of those types of poets happen to be at Sospeso Readings on 4th June (tomorrow/today), where I'm reading as part of a feature organised by Geoff Fox. The theme is Motherhood and Vicki Thornton, Amy Bodossian, Geoff Fox, Koraly Dimitriades, Di Cousens and myself are combining forces for the feature, with an open mic that offers an excellent prize for the poem deemed to be a particular person's favourite on the night. It's happening from 7pm at Sospeso Caffe, 428 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn.