Tag Archives: festivals

Five Days Under the Big Sky

It was the best of festivals, it was the best of festivals.

Last week I spent five days as a guest of Big Sky Readers and Writers Festival, which takes place annually in Geraldton, an hour’s flight north of Perth.

I love flying to Gero, not only for the glorious vistas but also because I love watching the flight attendants try and somehow cram meal service into the approximately 35 minutes of level flight time.

I love Big Sky for other reasons, and they are many.

For years, fellow writers and illustrators have been enthusing about Big Sky. It’s the bestival of the festivals! they say. Because they are punsters like that. If you get invited, you absolutely have to go!

This year, I did, so I did. And now I get it.

From the tiny plane trip we took out to the Abrolhos Islands, where we spent a night soaking up the serenity, snorkelling in crystal clear water, communing with a playful sea lion, and generally feeling a million miles away from all things stressful …

… to the visits to local schools, which were full of enthusiastic teachers as well as highly engaged  kids.

From the seamless organisation, creative programming and unfailingly cheerful staff …

… to the warmth and enthusiasm of the audiences.

When I speak at a festival, I always hope that those listening will come away nourished in some way; post-Big Sky, I actually feel nourished myself. And if you know anything about me at all, you’ll know this is a rare feat!

I’ve always loved a big sky, but now I want to live there. It truly is the bestival of the festivals.

Family Day, Perth Writers’ Festival

It was hot. It was humid. It was fantastic.

Let’s just say I was there from start of day until close of business and I do not do 95f8c-james4festivals/large gatherings of people well at all. I’m the hermitty type most drawn to Michael Leunig’s favoured “…Festival of Clouds/the festival that doesn’t pull the crowds”, so for me to put in eight solid hours at a festival says something about the event.

We spent the day outside under the trees, as writer after writer appeared before us on the Kids’ Courtyard Stage (I presented there last year, at midday, in similar, soupy conditions, and let me tell you it is much more relaxing lying back on cushions on the grass, in the shade).

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Post-Festival, Post-Apropos

Six days of poetry workshops, readings, panel discussions, book signings, and reader-meeting are over. It was both excellent and exhausting. I met some wonderful writers, read some poems, sat in on all kinds of lively discussions, and got to talk about Going for Broke to a lovely al fresco Family Day crowd. If you came past to say hi or have me sign a book, feel free to drop me a line via my ‘Contact‘ page. I always love hearing from readers.

Something else I love is turning up approximately three minutes late to a panel discussion on short fiction and finding standing room only at the (large-ish) venue. It is a real pleasure to be part of such a vibrant community of readers and writers. Thanks to everyone who helped make it happen and everyone who gobbled it up with such gusto. Please, sir, can I have some more?

Oh When the Saints …

All Saints’ Literature Festival was fantastic. It was also three weeks ago, time which has rushed past me in a haze of work and school holidays and, yes, even a little writing. This year’s festival, Storylines, brought together writers, illustrators, journalists, storytellers and a whole range of other people besides, to give talks and workshops, and to perform, debate and discuss.

This was my first time presenting (although I managed to sneak in last year to meet my Walker Books editor and fellow children’s writer Sue Whiting) and I had a great time. I did a range of presentations, including general ‘Meet the Author’ talks focusing on my recent books, ‘Meet the Poet’ talks, using my own work to talk more generally about some of the principles of poetry, a Japanese Literature classroom session with some All Saints students and a haiku workshop. I was so impressed with the students who attended ‒ they were attentive, thoughtful, engaged and, in some cases, very, very funny. What was also impressive were the distances some had travelled to get there, including a group from as far afield as Leinster, who worked with me to write what I’m sure is a world first ‒ a haiku about a pet moth.

In short, it was an excellent few days and an experience I hope I’ll be able to repeat in the future. Next on the agenda is Book Week, when I’ll hopefully be coming to a library or school somewhere near you.