Melbourne Writers Festival this week
I'm going to some of the sessions of the Melbourne Writers Festival, which opened yesterday. I missed out on the opening address – Germaine Greer's keynote sold out pretty early, I gather, but it would probably be enough to read the extended essay and follow the broo-ha-ha in the media.
I'm unable to go to as many sessions as I'd like, but I'm fitting in what I can manage under the demands of juggling caring for children with my partner, work and school.
Also cost was a factor – prices went up this year, despite earlier promises of a more expense-friendly festival with its move to Federation square. I was pretty annoyed that they did away with the discount for those buying five tickets or more, and replaced it with an early bird discount, which ended on 2 August – twenty days before the festival began! That wasn't much help to those of us who had to wait for paydays and to scrape together the money, or chronic procrastinators, or busy people who don't check out programs or purchase tickets that early – and I fit all those categories...
So what am I paying my hard earned money to attend? I'm going to hear short story writer and literary editor Nam Le (of The Boat fame), and watch Salman Rushdie on the big screen – beamed live from Edinburgh. Both are tomorrow night – and I mean 'night'. The festival is pushing events later and later to squeeze more in, though it could be more to do with international timelines and the satellite connection with the Edinburgh Festival (the session with Nam Le is being shown at the Edinburgh Festival by satellite).
I'm also looking forward to hearing Chloe Hooper, Gideon Haigh and Nicolas Rothwell discuss the essay and compare writing non-fiction books and articles (Saturday 30 August). I love a good essay, and am a fan of the art writing essays. I really enjoyed Hooper's essays on the Aboriginal death in custody on Palm Island, on which her new book Tall Man is based. Haigh is also an established essayist and non-fiction book author, so there will be a lot to hear and think about. I think I've only read a couple of Rothwell's articles in the papers, but I'd like to hear what he has to say.
I'm looking forward to these sessions. I'm also going to try to make it to some of the free Festival events where I can, including the Creative Commons-licensed creative writing re-mixing events (more on that in a later post - promise).
If you're going to be at the Writers Festival at any of the times and sessions I will be, and if you feel like it, drop me a comment and we could meet for a coffee.