Monday, February 27, 2012

my day at Perth Writers Festival (2012)

This was the first time I attended the Perth Writers Festival. 
It went from Thursday to Sunday (23rd-26th Feb, 2012). 
Because this was the first time I went to the writers festival, I didn't have very high expectations (nor very low ones!). 
So I was pretty blown away by how much FUN I HAD! 
I was supposed to go with my friend Jess, but she bailed which was a bummer... 
But then I bumped in to a different Jess, fellow book-blogger Jess from The Tales Compendium! Which was lovely. :) 
Anyway, here's what happened from beginning to end (btw, the first half of the recount below was written on Saturday, the day I went, whereas at the end of the post I say today as in Monday):

1. I got to uni (the festival was held at UWA campus, aka my uni) at 9.15am and went to the Dolphin Theatre for "What's the problem with poetry?", a panel discussion with poets Dennis O'Driscoll, David Brooks and Cate Kennedy with William Yeoman as chairperson. 

It was one of the first sessions of the day and I was already having a lot of fun. There were a lot of older folks in the audience which I did not mind at all, in fact I even favour that aspect. William read an article talking about how poetry has become unpopular over the years; how people in society these days are looking to other media of arts/culture that are maybe more accessible, trendier or easier to consume (like technology, tv and the internet); and just generally how meagre the reception of poetry has become in today's society.
I wish I had a better memory (but I am really tired right now, it's 10.25pm and I was there from 9.15 to 6.15 today) but I can't recall everyone's response to that article. I think Dennis talked a lot about the importance of poetry in his own country (Ireland) and Irish history. How politics and politicians often sought the advice of poets. Or something like that. :P On the other hand David kinda agreed with the article, saying how Aussie culture is more like how the article described 'us'. I can't remember what Cate said. 
It was just a really interesting discussion and I found myself really glad that I came to this 'early' session. I mean, it was a free event and I got to hear some really interesting stuff, and gain a bit of knowledge about poetry. (I don't write it, but I used to). All in all, it made me really think about how significant poetry can be, and that I should definitely read more of it. 

2. I really needed to pee so I did that and then hopped into a long queue to get my ticket for "Tapping into the Zeitgeist" with YA authors James Roy, David Levithan and Chetan Bhagat. The line for the tickets was so long I was almost late for the 11am start. This panel discussion was televised I think (not sure where it was broadcasted, but they had cameras all around and spiffy lighting!), and it was one of the highlights of my day! It'll probably be one of the highlights of my month. Maybe even year. 
James Roy went on a little rant about the significance of YA today - in particular the big three - Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games. He mentioned that David Levithan actually edited The Hunger Games, which was a really awesome fact for me to learn! James was really funny - all three of them were, actually. David talked about how as a YA writer the aim isn't really to tap into the zeitgeist, but rather create it. Chetan joked a lot, it was just a really amazing/hilarious/interesting panel to be able to watch and I was pretty surprised that there weren't more people in the audience!

3. Straight after the Zeitgeist panel I went to the Dymocks tent and picked up Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan, and also The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan. I got both of them signed by him straight after, as well as my copies of Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist and Dash & Lily's Book of Dares (which I brought along). 

4. Next was a slightly boring interlude - I had to wait another hour or so for the next session I wanted to go to, so it was the perfect time to run some errands and get lunch! 
I went to the Co-Op Bookshop in Guild Village to buy my unit readers for my two english units this semester. I also had to order my Greek grammar textbook/workbook. Then I went back to my car to ditch the whole lot of stuff before trekking back up to Reid Library so I could book a group study room for a meeting I had to organise this week. The library was closed so I just picked up the new issue of the Pelican magazine and hopped off to lunch. (Sorry about this tediously in-depth recount of what I did, it gets more interesting I promise!)
Then I walked over to the University Club for lunch - Writers Festival guests were allowed to eat there which was LUCKY for me because students are normally never allowed in there! The café was so nice - loads of seating areas, bar tables, normal tables, lounge areas, patio seating, comfy sofa areas... and good air-conditioning. The food was alright too. So there I am, eating my smoked salmon wrap when suddenly I look up and James Roy and David Levithan are right in front of me! Then they go and sit down at a table outside to have lunch, which is like 2 steps away from where I was sitting. So I pretty much just sit there and tweet about it, and text Jess (The Tales Compendium), and try to stalk them without being conspicuous and creepy. I really wanted to stare but I guess I was either too chicken or too prideful to. Probably both. 

5. Then at 1.45pm we headed back to the Dolphin Theatre for "Starting Out", a panel where authors Favel Parrett, Alan Carter and Rohan Wilson talked about how they wrote their debut novels and their publishing process. The theatre was fully packed for this session. I thought it was really interesting to hear about how these guys write, how they got their manuscripts noticed and the editing process. Favel in particular gave some pretty inspiring words of encouragement for me at least, in terms of the writing process - she said that she writes to explore, with so many unknowns looming in every corner, and just the hope that it'll all magically come together at the end. I learnt a lot from this panel session, for example how significant the role of the editor is, but also the importance of the author to fight for the words they believe in so their work remains true to themselves. 

6. At 3pm there were actually three different sessions I wanted to attend: "Writing and Ethics", "Is Reading Overrated?" and "Hard to Love". I wasn't originally planning to go to "Hard to Love" but Jess (luckily!) told me David Levithan would be part of that panel so I ditched the other two for that one! Looking back, it's such a shame there were so many workshops and panel sessions all packed into just a few days because I would have LOVED to go to those other sessions that were on at that same time. 
This was probably my least favourite session of all five, even though they were all really good. Charlotte Wood, David Levithan and Craig Sherborne were the authors in this panel and the first (and probably the most difficult) question they were given was: 'What is love?' I think the reason I didn't like this session as much was because of the topic of love. I'm pretty sure I would have found "Is Reading Overrated?" a more interesting panel, but I did enjoy this one as well - the panelists were pretty funny, bar the chairperson.

7. By this time it was about 4.30 in the afternoon and I was ready to go home. I'm SO glad I didn't. I will never regret my decision to stay for "A Taste of Something New" - the Craig Silvey reading at 5pm in the Sunken Garden. 
Jonothan Holloway (Arts Director of the Perth Writers Festival) came and sat with Craig, introduced him, talked to him a bit before the reading then did some Q&A with him after the reading. On a slightly unrelated note, I feel like I should describe to you what Craig was wearing - a (really well fitted, aka tight, by my terms) grey t-shirt, mustardy yellow jeans and bright blue thongs. I had no idea what this author looked like beforehand because I hadn't read his stuff before. All I knew was that he wrote a pretty popular book called "Jasper Jones" or something. Prior to the festival I didn't even know he was from Perth. Craig is fit bloke! That's right- I said it. And it's probably an understatement. 
Jonothan first told us that he had been inviting Craig Silvey for many years to come to the Perth Writers Festival. I also should note that Jonothan was really, really funny. Best chairperson/host guy of the festival, probably. I wish I had recorded the entire session actually, because there were so many LOL moments. 
This was the first reading I've been to in my life, and it was really good. I don't really read much Australian Literature, but I went out today and bought Craig's first book Rhubarb. The reading was a snippet of the beginning, no characters were introduced yet. Craig kept saying afterward how weird he felt talking about a WIP (work-in-progress). Of all the many writers I heard speak today, Craig was the youngest and by far the most eloquent. I could easily listen to him talk ALL DAY. He was also really funny, so Craig + Jonothan together = a lot of laughs and good times. 
I can go on and on about this reading session, but I'm not going to because this post is almost 2000 words long, which is INSANE, so I'll leave the rest of those lovely memories tucked away for now.

The day I had at the Perth Writers Festival was just simply an inspiring experience. I would not have traded this day for anything. I so regret not going to the writers festival last year! 
So if you are a person that has ever in your life had an interest in creative writing, or just literature in general, I whole-heartedly recommend you do everything in your power to attend one of these awesome events. :) 
CAN'T WAIT TIL NEXT YEAR! (I wish we had a writers festival like this every month).

If you read this far, thank you so very much, I would very much wish to hug you. If you skipped down to this last part, just read the penultimate paragraph and I'll be a happy chappy. 
See you next time! :)


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had an absolutely amazing day! Love all the different signings David Leviathan did for you, it's so nice when they write a diff thing in each book for you to enjoy.

Jess - The Tales Compendium said...

I totally agree about the Hard To Love talk. I loved the answers David gave but wasn't impressed or interested in the other two authors or the guy running the panel..

Ismé said...

It sounds like so much fun - I wish I could have gone. Darn school!

What David Levithan wrote in the books was cool, a lot better than just a signature - it must have been a great day.

The Book Slooth

Niii said...

Loved it!
How cool Arielle!
sounds like you had a great time!

Shirley Marr said...

Hey Arielle, I totally love your day, it sounded like so much fun. And you are so cute. Thanks for blogging about your Craig Silvery experience, I was so desperate to go and couldn't make it, but it's sweet hearing it from you. I totally crush on him. But that's a different story! xx S