Tag Archives: Brisbane Writer’s Festival

BWF 2010: Part 2

17 Sep

Valentino gowns. An enthusiastic Norwegian. Organic coffee beneath a sprinkling of rain.

This was my second glimpse of the Brisbane Writer’s Festival. And it was much better than my first, I can tell you.

Ali and I started our day at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). We had an hour until our panel; we had plenty of time. Seeing the Valentino exhibition was high on my list of things to do while I was in Brisbane for the festival, and I’m so glad I got the chance to see it, because it was so beautiful! Honestly, if you haven’t seen it yet, you need to get your ass there and SEE IT! I think I wanted to take just about every gown I saw with me (and there was a lot – you get your value for money and then some!)

After the disaster that was our first panel (the day before), we didn’t hold high hopes for Random Acts. I started devising an exit strategy before we went up stairs to the Qld Terrace, just in case (since it would have been handy on the Saturday). As it turns out, we didn’t need an exit strategy. We didn’t even need plans for the rest of the day, because I could have quite happily listened to Jostein Gaarder, Louise Doughty and lovely chair, Katherine Lyall-Watson, for hours.

The panel was all about philosophical thinking and personal beliefs: whether certain events in our lives really are random, or whether they’re being controlled by a higher power, kind of like a puppeteer maneuvering his puppets on a string as he/she sees fit. It’s hard to condense the panel into a few words because there was SO MUCH in it – Jostein talks so quickly and with such excitement that you find yourself being swept along with his voice, and you’re so engrossed you forget to take notes!

Leaving the panel, my head was full of all different kinds of scenarios and whether some things are random or not. Also, I wanted to buy both Jostein and Louise’s novels (which I haven’t yet, but I swear I will; I kinda depleted the bank account just a tad the day before at QWC and Avid Reader…)

The rest of my time in the Qld capital was spent feeding my face (pretty much) – eating the most amazing Chinese of my life with Ali and her lovely family, and stuffing myself full of to-die-for grilled chicken at The Norman with my grandfather.

And then came Belinda Jeffrey’s book launch. We all packed in tight to the little Avid Reader bookstore on the Monday night (because of my last, not-so-nice experience of West End earlier in the week I dragged my hubby along as body guard/walk-us-to-our-car man).

The launch was short and sweet and wonderfully done. It was so lovely to finally meet Belinda, say a quick hello and snag an autograph inside the cover of her shiny new book (which has the best cover in the world, I might add – I love it!) And then it was back to the apartment to pack up all the stuff I’d bought during my trip and head home with weary feet and a head full of writing-talk.

The question now is: would I do it all again next year? In a heartbeat.

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BWF 2010: Part 1

9 Sep

 

My first impression of the State Library of Queensland (SLQ), and the writer’s festival in general, was a slightly panicked one. I was running late. My first panel was due to start at 1:00pm – it was 12:50pm when I caught my first glimpse of it all… as my car sailed over the new “Go-Between” bridge and into the city!

I was pretty stressed at this point. My friend and critique partner extraordinnaire – the lovely Ali Smith from LoveMissAli – was already there and having a crisis of her own (she’d left her ticket at home and was in the ticket line to get it re-printed). So, I was on my way to Roma Street Station, when I should have been at SLQ, and Ali was friendless (because I was so late) and hoping she’d get her ticket re-printed before the session started. Not exactly a promising start to our festival plans.

Thankfully, that was about the worst that happened during our writer’s festival weekend. I managed to get the library on time (thanks to my lovely hubby cutting across some traffic where he perhaps shouldn’t but he got me there safe and sound so that’s the main thing), and Ali managed to get her ticket and we got into the session with a minute to spare and seats still available.

We needn’t have rushed, let me tell you. We went into the panel thinking we were going to get some juicy tips on how to craft the perfect short story, but what we actually sat through was a bunch of short stories from the author’s life – real-life stories – that rambled across time and back again, from friends of his to his son to some couple in an emergency room… I don’t know, I didn’t follow it all that well. It was literally a bunch of rambling stories, and at one point I think I asked Ali whether our speaker was drunk or not.

Highly disillusioned, I found solice in the QWC headquarters, where I chatted with a lovely lady behind the counter, picked up a copy of the latest AWM book, and bought a raffle ticket (I didn’t win, FYI). The few minutes I spent in the QWC office refreshed me: I was ready to go back out into the festival, and I was ready to put that rather unusual panel behind me (after about an hour of serious bitching between Ali and myself over coffee (on Ali’s part) and water (on my part) and countless cigarettes (on both our parts)).

If you’re feeling brave, you tackle the walk to West End in the daylight hours. I’d been warned before that West End wasn’t a place you go unless you really have no way of avoiding it, and I really wanted to go to Avid Reader, so there was really no way of avoiding it. The walk there wasn’t so bad – there was the usual riff-raff you’d expect in a not-so-safe district of a capital city, shoeless men slurring drunkenly at passers-by with open alcohol containers on the footpath – but it was the walk back to SLQ that opened my eyes just a little bit, and had me dashing across the pavement a little quicker than I usually would. A man staggered over to the ANZ across from us and started bashing on the glass doors, which were, of course, locked solid. He was cussing loudly (something about being ripped off?), was obviously very drunk, and I feared the glass might actually shatter at one point. Ah, West End, the memories.

What I remember most fondly about that first day at the festival is:

– Meeting the lovely Ali Smith for the first time in person

– The sheer size of the SLQ (to a small town gal, it is seriously monstrous and so beautiful!)

– Cigarettes on the steps overlooking the river

– The realisation that Avid Reader is perhaps the most perfect little bookstore of all time, and I want it to be mine (or to have a bookstore just like it)

The things I remember not so fondly? Waiting 30 minutes for a takeaway coffee at the SLQ’s cafe (though it wasn’t my coffee so I was perhaps less impatient than if it actually was mine I was waiting for), everything about that first panel I attended, and the addition of the bloody bridge that almost made me late for a panel that, in hindsight, I wouldn’t have minded missing in the least.

Stay tuned for part 2 (which I swear will be much more exciting than part 1).