It's not just a book thing!
After a fantastic day at the Litfest, the only complaint I could have was that there were not more hours between Saturday night and Sunday morning.
I wasn’t the only one to turn up bleary-eyed for Chuma Nwokolo’s Flash Fiction Workshop, but anyone not quite wide awake yet was soon kicked into action as Chuma opened the event by setting a short task that was simple but challenging. A discussion revolving around the question of what we all look for in a short story was a great forum for debate and I found it gave me a lot to think about in terms of the focus of my work. Chuma presided over the discussion but was keen for everyone to get involved, and the workshop became lively and honest as the attendees grew more comfortable and confident. We moved on to discuss some of the work that people had brought in, before Chuma wrapped up the session by issuing us with some homework (to be handed in by the end of the week). Overall there was a relaxed atmosphere to the workshop, and I think everyone in attendance will have taken a lot away from the discussions.
One of my highlights of the festival has been the opportunity to meet other writers, enthusiastic readers, likeminded people. Whether it be others working at the festival, event attendees or folk milling around in Market Square, it has been a pleasure to speak to you all.
An impromtu bibliotherapy session with Ella Berthoud was too good a chance to turn down, so I was suddenly ushered into the library and found myself laying my literary soul bare so that Ella could prescribe a cure. In her Book Group talk yesterday she had described herself as, “like a cheap therapist,” but (and admittedly I have never been to see a therapist) I genuinely felt that my bibliotherapy session did a lot of good. Ella was a delight to spend half an hour with, and I came away with a list of books (see picture) to work through in the coming months.
Next, to the Barclays Hub where Donald Sassoon talked us through the enduring popularity of Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo. It was interesting to hear about the various factors that have shaped the ongoing evolution of their public standing, and Donald lightened what was a fairly academic talk with flashes of his dry humour. Louis de Bernières was a sell out, so I caught what I could of his talk from just outside the tent. Having never read any of his books, I was not sure what to expect but found him wonderfully entertaining – the story he read was funny, and he answered the audience’s questions with a frank honesty.
The final event of the festival was the Poetry Slam Final at St James, where school students from across the island battled it out to be named Slam Champions by the judging panel. The Farrago Poetry group had been in schools all week helping students to hone their craft, and the professionals – John Paul, Keith (former UK Slam! Champion) and Katie – put on some great performances as well. John Paul did a great job of whipping the crowd into a frenzy so that all the students got a great reception, and they had come up with some great work. Given the starting idea of, ‘The Brightest Star,’ their work had gone off in a number of directions and we heard everything from poems referencing celebrity culture to absurdist scientific discussions of what a star actually is.
And so, the Litfest was over. I saw a lot more things than I expected to and sometimes it was difficult to factor in time to eat or sleep, but I thoroughly enjoyed both days and will now start looking forward to the next. Keep writing/ reading/ slamming/ listening/ performing/ discussing/ thinking, til next time!