Trust Me, I'm a Storyteller

November 10, 2010

World Matters – Writers Disturbing the Peace at Eltham

 

What a stimulating and thought-provoking weekend it was. The speakers were articulate and passionate about their books, poetry and music. Topics covered Indigenous books and writing, the climate and environment, refugees and asylum seekers, the effects of terrorism; and some of the best poetry I’ve heard in a long time from the Adelaide Friendly Street Poets and others including Yahia al-Samawy.

The lovely Montsalvat is created in the ‘arts and crafts’ style and is a visual delight. Meenakshi, co-editor of Fear Factor Terror Incognito (Picador India & Australia 2010) was offered a Montsalvat Residency during her visit here.

The hall where World Matters was held was large with good acoustics but still had a cosy atmosphere. Despite the lashing rain, there was an excellent roll-up for the sessions. The unceasing rain also meant an indoor rather than outdoor barbecue lunch but spirits remained high.

Meera Govil, owner of Eltham Bookshop, held the whole event together, including organising speakers, sessions, refreshments and books. Morag Fraser, who flew in from the U.S. for World Matters, was a sterling MC for the two days of World Matters.

Some of the most poignant stories came from Ros Moriarty and John Bradley; and the courageous women of East Timor whose stories are chilling but infinitely inspiring. The book of their stories, Step by Step is available now and recommended reading. The East Timorese Women exhibited their exquisitely woven sarongs, wall hangings, scarves, bookmarks and other examples of their craft at Montsalvat. The fine thread is coloured using natural dyes in the traditional way. They had an example to show how they create the warp and the weft to make their gorgeous garments.

Devika Brendon, Susanne Gervay, Meenakhi Bharat formed a panel to speak about Fear Factor Terror Incognito, which I chaired. Each of the authors read from and discussed their stories which was followed by questions from the audience.

 Photo by Yahia al-Samawy, whose poetry was a highlight of World Matters.

As well as listening to the speakers being interviewed and the panel discussions, we met so many fascinating people. The people of Eltham extended such a warm welcome to us all. Meenakshi and I were taken through the Yarra Glen by Jan Aitken, it was great to see the Yarra valley but we were stunned by the extent of the damage from the bushfires last summer. The trees and plants in the national park are valiantly trying to recover but it looks as if it will be a long time before that happens, some may never recover. So it was heartening to see the creeks flowing after all the rain and Jan was suprised by the rise in the level of water in the local reservoir. Susanne Gervay made a trip out to Marysville to take books for the children.

If you missed Eltham’s World Matters this time around be sure to plan for it and book in for 2011.

Fear Factor in Westerly Volume 55

Fear Factor Terror Incognito (published Picador India and Australia 2010) features in an essay on Australian literature by Elizabeth Webby, published in Westerly, Volume 55 (the first of issue of Westerly 2010) which is out and available now from Gleebooks and other good book shops.

Congratulations and Commiserations

Congratulations to Hazel Edwards who is nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2011 for children’s and youth literature.

Commiserations and Get well Wishes to Jeremy Fisher–who missed Eltham World Matters–hope your foot is improving, Jeremy.

 

 

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1 Comment »

  1. Eltham was an intellectually and emotionally inspiring Festival. Sharon chaired the Fear Factor panel wonderfully to a full audience who were engaged in the stories and the impact on terrorism from a personal eprspective.

    ASll in all, a fabulous event.

    Comment by Susanne Gervay — November 10, 2010 @ 10:49 pm | Reply


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