Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Whanganui Literary Festival

The Whanganui Literary Festival will take place this year 20 – 22 September, with a fringe festival, the weekend before.

The festival started in 2006 when Wanganui based author, Joan Rosier-Jones, was asked to organise a ‘literary component’ for the Wanganui Arts Festival, and although the Arts Festival did not take place at that time, the forerunner to the Literary Festival did. It was successful both financially and in terms of numbers, so Joan assisted by local writer, Val Cowan, organised the festival again in 2007, including a ‘fringe festival’ to highlight and promote local writers.  Following this event, it was decided that the festival should be bi-ennial.

It is billed as a lifestyle festival and includes authors on such topics as cooking, gardening and sports to open it up to those who might be intimidated by the term ‘literary’. People come from all over the North Island to enjoy the boutique nature of the festival. Visiting authors are accessible and one of the highlights is Dinner With the Stars where patrons are able to dine and chat with participating writers.
The programme for 2013 is designed to appeal to a wide range of readers. It will open with an evening with Witi Ihmaera, who will later join with Christin Leunens to discuss having their novels made in to movies. Gardening guru, Xanthe White, will join her mother, Judith, to talk about having “A Writer in the Family,” as well as talking about gardening design in a separate timeslot.

Judith White’s latest novel, The Elusive Language of Ducks was released earlier this year, and her collection of award winning short stories, Visiting Ghosts is to be republished by Wanganui publishers, Tangerine Publications, in time for the festival.
The title for Joe Bennett’s presentation is “Bullshit and Underpants” which combines the titles from two of his books – Where Underpants Come From, and Double Happiness – How bullshit works. Other participating authors are Gregory O’Brien; music columnist and author, Grant Smithies and  fishing writer for the New Zealand Herald, with a raft of books to his name, Geoff Thomas.

On Sunday there is lunch with John Adams, who proves that legal experts can be real people. He is both a District Court Judge and a poet , winning the New Zealand Society of Authors 2012 Best First Book Award for Poetry. He is currently at Cambridge University, England writing a legal treatise, but in his spare time working on a children’s book based on Rumplestiltskin.
There will be the regular Fringe Festival for local authors to talk about their books, the Children’s Festival with events at the library, art gallery and museum and a Legends Literary Bus Tour. The tour will include Wanganui places connected with well known New Zealand writers such as James K Baxter, Janet Frame, Robyn Hyde, Katherine Mansfield and Ian Cross.

Tickets are a reasonable $12 per event, except for catered ones, and a Season ticket is available for sale from only $65 until 23 August, (excluding catered events.)
Tickets will be available from the Royal Wanganui Opera House. 


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