Friday, September 6

Brisbane Writers Festival

Most years I like to attend more than one session, and I suppose I did yesterday, but as I had to train it to South Bank/Stage Library, my time was limited, however I did attend two interesting sessions.

First of all, let me say, that I have been attending these festivals for many years, and like many I have spoken to we prefer the "old" system where there were large marquees in South Bank, and many of the events were free to attend.  The huge marquees were often almost filled with enthusiastic writers and readers.  There have been many changes over recent years and most of the events are in and around the State Library of Queensland, there are more events which require a fee,  marquees for support groups are few and far between, and there is only one larger marquee for sessions.

Yesterday when I arrived there were quite a few school children heading home, with their purple Brisbane Writers Festival Bags, and I note that it is wonderful to see children exposed to top writers.  They seemed quite animated and enthused, but perhaps there were other reasons for that. 

I had missed the start of one session so went up to the Queensland Writers Centre, as I had been told at a festival last weekend, that if one did, one would receive something (not explained.)  Well, I did, a package about becoming a member.   Odd?  I queried it - in fact the young lady I spoke with was the one who had promoted this special 'gift', so I was confused.   Anyway I left wondering what I would do with this package that I had no need for - and the young lady had, just after I left, realised that she had made an error and ran down stairs and found me heading to the marquee. She profusely apologised for her confusion and promised to email me with details about the special offer (which she did within 5 minutes!).

The marquee event was not free, but I had been told by one of the staff  to go in anyway.  As I walked in, I was asked for my ticket, but was let through without it.  Maybe because there were so many empty chairs.

The marquee, in what is known as Maewar Green was advertised as with Lloyd Jones and Kristina Olsson, talking with Kathleen Noonan, but there was a man chairing and another lady, whose name I don't recall.  I had heard Kristina the week before and found her interesting, and missed hearing the stories of Lloyd and the other lady.  From what I saw was a good session, so when it was over I headed back and bought a raffle ticket and looked around before purchasing a ticket for a session in Auditorium 2, SLQ.  It was called "The Aussie Town" and the writers were Karen Foxlee, Melissa Lucashenko and Rachael Treasure.  All had very interesting things to say about their writing.

I shall have to find their books, as I confess I had not read them all.  I have read some of Karen's book  The Midnight Dress - don't think I have all of it. Must check on my Kindle as I can't recall where I have read it.  I certainly had heard her interviewed on the radio while I was travelling.  Melissa's book Mullumbimby sound really fascinating as she weaves an amazing story involving indigenous history and language.   Here's a link to an ABC review - click here.


I must say that this session was well attended and very interesting.  I am not sure that I will get to any other sessions - maybe on Sunday, but unlikely.

I am not terribly keen on the current way things are done - I think a $1 discount for concessions is an insult, though I note that the more expensive events have a slightly more generous discount.  To see so many events requiring fees makes it very hard for folk that are not flushed with funds too.  They expect you to buy books as well - which are not inexpensive.   I met one lady who thought she was attending an event with Robyn Davidson, which was in fact at the University of Queensland.  Without a car and knowledge of the campus it would be challenging to attend, but I am hopeful that many uni students attended that one.

Maybe next year I can attend more, and I hope they have made some changes.  And pleas I hope they make the Courier Mail's program much easier to comprehend.  A number of folk complained about it yesterday - very confusing.

 Note to self - must read Mister Pip, (Lloyd Jones) and the books of above authors.

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