Monday, May 16, 2011
AWRF 2011 - bouquets and brickbats
What a fabulous few days starting with the enormously entertaining, and occasionally thought-provoking New Zealand Listener Gala Night on Thursday followed by three days and nights of sessions featuring authors, illustrators and artists from New Zealand and around the world. I enjoyed every session I attended. Bravo.
* The opening night - after years of dreary events the organisers got it right - in spades!
*Large buzzy crowds
*the Festival Bookshop run by the Womens Bookshop and Unity Books. What wonderful service, all those fabulous books, every author present had massed dispolays of their titles. A special mention for Caro and Carole - knowledgeable, friendly, helpful.
* the volunteers, the Festival couldn't happen without them.
*Madhur Jaffrey - what a star
*Al Brown's chairing of an Evening with AA Gill. He deserves a medal, and more importantly he must have a session of his own at the next Festival.
*Graphic novels, comics and cartoons - best session I attended. The New Zealand brains trust of the graphic novel/cartoon/comic business on stage, they delivered the goods.
*Chairmanship - all round standard very high indeed.
*The Allpress coffee stand.
*Michele Leggot's delivery of her beautiful and moving poem written for her niece's wedding.
*Three sessions happening simultaneously, so frustrating. What about adopting the Wellington model where only one event is held at a time?
*The Box cafe - not enough staff which meant that often there was only one till operating which in turn meant that when you only had half an hour between Festival sessions it was not possible to get a snack and coffee. Unimpressive selection of food. And it was almost all gone by 1.30pm!
*The bar on the ground floor which inexplicably was closed when you came out of the evening sessions at 9.00pm and wanted to share a glass of wine with your friends and chat about what you had just heard.
*Doubling up of authors on panels when they should have had an "Hour with" session of their own e.g. Carl Nixon and Sarah Quigley.
*Too many poets in poetry sessions - eight in one case and poetry from seven poets in another. Make the sessions longer, please!
*Cost of parking - we spent almost $80 over the weekend. What about a special rate being struck for Festival goers?