Another Perth Writers Festival has been and gone, and I have to say that this was one of the best yet. Maybe this is a product of my increasing age (I am almost 22) and independence, or perhaps (as I suspect is the case) the Perth Writers Festival team are well and truly lifting their game.
I always go along expecting one of three things.
1) I expect to learn things
2) I expect to go home wanting to write or read A LOT
3) I expect to buy many, many, MANY books
This year was no exception. Check it out:
I started my festival going on Thursday night with the official opening address presented by Ahdaf Soueif. This session was not only informative and moving, it satisfied some of the cravings for academic lectures that I've recently been experiencing. Ms Soueif's lecture style was largely informal, and it was touching to see the degree of passion behind her presentation of the subject matter. I think a lot of the audience got more than they bargained for- everyone left more informed. The topic- the recent Revolution in Egypt- was not a pleasant one, but Soueif showed us how it could be hopeful by presenting to us the artistic possibilities opened up by the proceedings. I left the session feeling as if art was powerful, that it mattered, and that most of all, so long as we are responding to the situations around us, we are not helpless. This was a great way to start the weekend (although I still had another day of work for the week).
A definite highlight of the event was the session titled "Identity." Chaired by LiteraryMinded author Angela Meyer, the session featured local writer Annabel Smith (one of my recent favourites), Emma Chapman, and Madeleine Thien. Each writer discussed the way that identity is formed, reformed and reassessed in their novels, which only made it clearer that these three are ones to watch. Naturally, I picked up a copy of Madeleine's and Emma's books on the way out... I already had both of Annabel's! I also got along to the "Not Just for Kids" session on Young Adult writing, which was interesting in its own way- particularly because it featured two of my favourite Literary YA writers, Julia Lawrinson and Vikki Wakefield. The final session that I attended was called "Australian Story", and I left it feeling as if my thesis from last year was on the right track. I felt, to quote The Little Mermaid, like part of their world.
Sadly, I did not get to see Margaret Atwood speak, much as I would have liked to. While Margaret Atwood's novels (in particular The Blind Assassin) will always have a special place in my heart, I had another once in a lifetime opportunity to attend at the same time as her Saturday night talk- my university graduation!!!
So, my to read list has grown ever longer, and there is a hopeful feeling in my heart. I think so long as there are people passionate about books in this world- evident in the sheer numbers of people packing into the UWA lecture theatres this week- we as writers, readers, booksellers and human being have hope.
Bravo to the PWF team.