It seems like the most sensible thing in the world; if you want to know what audiences want, then give them a voice. That’s exactly what the Melbourne Writers Festival is doing with a series of tools for audience engagement, ranging from arms-length suggestions via a new digital submission box, to the highly interactive Audience Advocate Committee, meeting once a month to discuss possible programming opportunities. What’s so surprising about the whole thing is just how unusual it is for a festival to invite audiences in for such active engagement. Continue reading
Part of me feels that the Melbourne Writers Festival should take place around a giant fire where we can warm our hands and listen to stories, while shadows dance all around. The festival is a warm place in the middle of winter after all.
We’re one week away from the start of the festival so I thought I’d take this as an opportunity to review my must-see sessions. Predictably, this is a biased list of events that reflects my tastes and proclivities. Feel free to make your suggestions in the comments below.
Eat the Sky: Cross-Cultural Collaborations
Saturday 22 August, 4pm
The Wheeler Centre, Performance Space
We all live in our own self-contained filter bubbles. That’s the way of community most of the time; we connect with others like ourselves. I’m not sure I even know anybody who didn’t vote Greens! But how much of our world view is limited by these bubbles? How hard do we make it for ourselves to understand someone else’s point of view when it contradicts with our own?
Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean is an anthology released earlier in the year, pairing Indian and Australian writers and visual storytellers. Two of the collaborators, Annie Zaldi and Mandy Ord will talk about the process of working together, and time spent across cultures. Continue reading
MY GRANDMOTHER SENDS HER REGARDS AND APOLOGISES
Fredrik Backman, translated by Henning Koch
Sceptre, June 2015, RRP $29.99
It can be hard to be different in a world where conformity is the nature of the game. Society has rules, and those rules must be followed. A little bit different might be cute, but a lot different can be dangerous, and “dangerous” people often find themselves kicked and punched and ridiculed as others try to force them into a hole that has no space for them.
That’s why those of us who are different need a granny like Elsa’s granny. Continue reading
A DOUBLE SHOT OF HAPPINESS
Allen & Unwin, June 2015, RRP $32.99
One could imagine Judy Sharp, small and grey-haired, lifting the heavy steel of a car, straining and breaking muscles and bones in order for her children to be pulled free. Motherly love is an extraordinary thing. After all, lifting a car is a small act when compared to battling the prevailing wisdom of the 1980s; that severely autistic children would never love, never communicate, and never have relationships. When door after door seemed to be closing for her son, Tim, to have a normal life, Judy Sharp forced new doors to open. Continue reading