Children’s Bookweek is over for another year. I spoke to over one thousand primary and secondary school students from across Melbourne in the course of the week. I was impressed by the number of deep readers and serious thinkers that I met. The book is definitely not dead. The Melbourne Writers’ Festival opened on Thursday night so one week of bookish celebrations overlaps another. I’ll be appearing in events at the MWF every day next week. Check out my events calendar in the side bar. Hope to see you there!
In November of last year I went on an amazing adventure. For three and a half weeks, in the company of four other writers, two mastermind visionaries, a designer and a problem-solving dynamo, I travelled across India. We presented at over thirty events, gave countless interviews to the media, climbed on and off trains and in out of buses, cars and auto rickshaws. We covered over 2,000 kilometres and we carried more than 300 kilos of baggage – most of which consisted of six handmade trunks packed full of Australian books. This was the Bookwallah Roving Writers Festival.
Tomorrow night, at Federation Square, the Bookwallah documentary film will be screened for the first time.
The documentary was produced, directed and filmed by Catriona Mitchell, one of the masterminds who, along with Nicolas Low of Asialink, dreamt up the whole crazy scheme. Although the writers took centre stage at public events, it was Nic and Catriiona who made the adventure possible.
I’m not much of a photographer. I forget to take pictures when I travel. I tend to reconstruct my memories and experiences with words and build the story of my experiences through narrative, rather than images. . But when I saw the documentary of the Bookwallah adventures in an early preview, I was amazed at how Catriona had given the journey a distinctive narrative, shaped it in a way that made sense of the heat, the chaos, the night trains, the events and destinations.
The Bookwallah will be on the big screen at Federation Square tomorrow night a 6.30 and then every Monday night in August at 6.30.
You can also see it on a tiny, interactive screen at the State Library of Victoria in the Cowen Gallery where the beautiful, travel-worn trunks are on display.
Tonight I went to the launch of the 2012 Melbourne Writers Festival program. It wasn’t a huge event – more a taste of things to come – and I almost didn’t go. My office was warm and cosy and the winter night was cold and uninviting.
But when I got to the Atrium at Federation Square and heard the festival director, Steve Grimwade, talk about all the things happening in this year’s festival, I remembered why I love the MWF. I felt so pleased to live in a city that loves books and to be connected to a community of other readers and writers. There will be so many interesting writers descending on Melbourne for this year’s festival, so many fascinating events on the program and countless new books to discover. I can’t wait.
The evening was just the sort of inspiration I needed to get me back to blogging, to make me think again about the importance of feeling connected to other readers and writers.
The program of this year’s MWF will be online and in The Age newspaper on Friday.