Making my way to the front entrance of the Octagon Theatre in UWA, I thought of our excursion to the Perth Writer’s Festival would be nothing more than a perfect opportunity to miss out on a day at school, how wrong I was. After assembling on the lawn outside the octagon and making our way to the tent, I was immediately struck by what a magnificent place UWA was. It was full of historical buildings and beautiful gardens with some of the most interesting trees I had ever seen. Unfortunately for me however, we couldn’t just spend the whole day looking at the trees so off we went into the tent to hear the authors.
The first author we saw was David Levithan. He is the Editorial Director of Scholastic (editing such books as The Hunger Games) and also an author having written/co-written several highly acclaimed books such as Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Nick and Norah (which has been made into a popular movie). As I sat there in the audience I was immediately struck by what a charismatic and engaging person he was. His open and humour filled descriptions of his life as an author and an editor had us all captivated and his explanation of how he Nick and Norah with his co-author was truly fascinating.
After such an interesting person as David Levithan I was quite sceptical as to whether anyone would be able to match him, once again I was wrong however as out came the performance poet Inua Ellams. From the second Inua began to speak, you could immediately tell he was a poet. He spoke with such strong rhythm and lyricism as he described some of his childhood and life experiences that all lead to him becoming a poet. His renditions of his poems had us all sitting on the edge of our seats listening as he effortlessly used metaphor and imagery to make his words come alive and sound truly delicious.
After a short lunch break we were back in the tent to listen to the third speaker Jane Caro. Jane is a broadcaster and writer who has been on the Gruen Transfer and recently written a book about Queen Elizabeth I in her early years. Listening to Jane you could tell that she was a strong and passionate feminist who had chosen to retell her interpretation of one of the all-time greatest women this world has ever seen. After reading a chapter of her book called Just a Girl Jane discussed in more depth how she writes from the inside out, writing not “about” the events that took place but writing “with” them instead. She encouraged all the aspiring writers in the audience with some great tips from her experience.
The final speaker was Alice Pung author of the book Her Father’s Daughter about her father and some of his stories from life in Cambodia in the 1970s at the time of the dictator Pol Pot. The stories she told were truly moving and the struggles that her father along with many of the people in Cambodia at the time were truly terrifying yet Alice told them in such a way that left you feeling moved and inspired by her belief in the power of good humour to help surmount adversity.
At the end of the writers festival I, along with all my classmates felt truly privileged to have had such a wonderful insight into the lives of four gifted literary geniuses and walked away full of inspiration, ideas and some handy tips for my creations in the future.