by Hayley Gardner
|Anonymous WIA students overcoming festival-phobia|
For many people the term “festival” implies havoc. It conjures vivid images of dry Australian paddocks or boggy Scottish hinterlands, rife with mud or bugs or both; tent-cities swarming with drugged-up, f***ed-up, flower-crown-wearing, “I’m here au-pairing” teenage revellers. Food truck lined perimeters serving salmonella and gastroenteritis in polystyrene boxes, queues upon queues, aisles upon aisles of port-a-loos smeared with the remnants of mass dysentery and pent-up sexual desire; the stench of which has often been known to induce dry-retching in even the most accustomed of party animals. Oh how very, terribly romantic!
Then of course there is the Writers Festival which is, by nature, a different kettle of fish entirely.
The aforementioned factors surely justify or at least explain my defiant evasion of any and all events that proclaim themselves to be a “Festival”. Hence my dispositional reservedness upon hearing that La Trobe was offering a subject called “Writers In Action” that involved full attendance and participation at the 2016 ‘Write Around the Murray Festival in Albury’. “Hmmm” I thought to myself “I sure would like 15 credit points for a week of attendance” … “I hear there’s free wine” said a fellow Student … “ I think there’s free food” surmised a Tutor … “I think I’m enrolling!” declared my inner monologue all ablaze with gluttony and self doubt. Of course, before I could recklessly abandon my festival-phobia I had to come to the conclusion that, on balance, I revel in literature, language and learning about the art of writing more than I dislike festivals and their usually pretentious, pox-ridden participants. Furthermore, I had to swear with the simple fact that I, like many financially frugal university students enjoy free food and wine more than I could ever possibly dislike or purposely shirk anything else. So it was settled. I was to go to the Writer’s Festival, I was confident that such an event would be remarkably civilised and I’m pleased to report that for once, just for once, I was not wrong.
Upon arrival at MAMA which for the purposes of this article will be referred to as WIA HQ (Writers In Action Headquarters), I was shown to “The Board-room” which boasted chairs fit to accommodate the rear-end of any corporate big-wig you care to mention. An array of books sitting patiently on their shelves with titillating titles and seductive covers begging to be read, poured over and innately understood. And there, smack bang in the middle of the room stood the most impressive and aesthetically perfect red-gum table complete with fruit platter and a side of social anxieties (Don’t be the first one to eat the grapes). It was at this moment that I realised I might actually be having a good time. What? That’s virtually unheard of!
If you're looking to socialise with drunken, broody types the likes of a Hunter.S.Thompson or Pete Doherty you might be better suited to a Sunday arvo on Tinder. However, if you fancy yourself a bright, young (or not so young) thing not yet tainted nor phased by the penetrating glares of countless literary nay-sayers, fatally determined to espouse your life-learned wisdom to a world of potential empathisers through literary mediums then perhaps the writers festival is the perfect place for you.
If you secretly harbor even the most fanciful and hypothetical of literary ambitions I can almost guarantee that you will enjoy your well-read self brushing shoulders with local literati …..and if you don’t….. There’s free booze people. Surely I mentioned the free booze.
There really is something on offer for everyone from Poetry slam to Monologues to Q and A sessions with renowned local Authors. If you have questions about craft, The Writers Festival is the place to get them answered.