Today was a treat day, spent listening to superb panels and lectures at Sydney Writers Festival. Here’s a quick wrap, because I wish you could have had the day I had.

  • Went to:
    • The Writers Habitat: Michaela Kalowski in conversation with authors Caroline Brothers, Jenevieve Chang, Sara Foster and David Francis
    • Writing Through Fences: Hani Abdile, Kaveh Arya and Amjad Hussain, graciously moderated by Eunice Andrada.
    • It’s a Mad,  Mad, Mad, Mad World: Visions of Dystopia: Sally Abbott, James Bradley and Briohny Doyle with Maria Lewis.
    • Scandal!: Annabel Abbs, Carmel Bird and Alexandra Joel and Helen Pringle.
    • On Antarctica: Tom Griffiths
  • Cried when:
    • A question from the audience at the Writers without Fences panel paralysed one of the authors with grief and trauma, for what felt like a silent forever, and then, the most gracious, vulnerable, strong and beautiful answer. An answer about my country’s refugee policy being utterly ungracious and grotesque.
    • Closely followed by learning that asylum seekers in detention in Sydney are being banned from practicing and sharing their writing and visual art. In Sydney. In Australia, In 2017. Who on earth are we? And how dare we?
  • Learned that:
    • In Downtown Los Angeles is a cemetery, where David Francis writes fiction longhand on his lunchbreaks
    • 70% of the earth’s fresh water is frozen into Antarctica, which we Aussies call The Pavlova. I wonder if Kiwis call it that too?
  • Remembered that:
    • the sensory is, pretty much, everything that matters in good writing
  • Smiled and grimaced when:
    • Sally Abbott reflected that “the here and now is becoming so peculiar”
  • Was inspired by:
    • Hani Abdile saying “My writing was a weapon for me. Pen and paper will never reject you. Writing is a medicine; it heals you up.”
    • Tom Griffiths talking about environmental history as a trigger for “understanding this moment and what our responsibilities are” – which is good advice in every sense

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