Winner of the inaugural Jack Iggulden Award for Indigenous Writing, Aunty Bea Ballangarry, with festival artistic director, John Bennett (left) and festival founder, Brain Purcell.
Winner of the inaugural Jack Iggulden Award for Indigenous Writing, Aunty Bea Ballangarry, with festival artistic director, John Bennett (left) and festival founder, Brain Purcell. Ute Schulenberg

Writers festival awash with words

THE first chapter of the Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival is behind us but the aura of bonhomie and goodwill remains.

It was a weekend awash with words – witty, wise, wacky and warmly received.

Children’s author Sophie Masson said she appreciated both the relaxed atmosphere and attempts to create something different.

“The sessions have been imaginative and the line-ups interesting, making for an exciting, fun mix,” Ms Masson said.

“I have particularly enjoyed being part of a festival where the focus is on Australian writers – so often festivals tend to work on an international star system.”

Ms Masson said it was also great to be part of a program that gave a high profile to children’s authors and poets.

“These genres are often marginalised.”

Readers were drawn to imaginative sessions such as Aunty Bea Ballangarry’s Talking Stones – Sharing Stories and Mary White’s Writing the Environment, both of which were burstingly booked out.

Visitor Jenny Horne was effusive about Paddle with a Poet.

“It was fabulous – the cows, the hills, the river and the poets – fascinating and fun,” Mrs Horne said.

Poetry sessions were entertaining as lively phrases bounced back and forth in the games of ‘poetry tennis’.

Local writers also had a good profile.

Women Writers in their Space was both moving and hilarious and highlighted how inspiration springs from camaraderie.

Writers and readers alike returned home with new books and fresh ideas to play with - all keen for the festival’s next chapter.



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