A story lies inside us all. One of love and miracles, sorrow and pain, wonder and joy. Every day is a new paragraph, every journey a chapter, and day by day the winds of time turn another page, ticking down our tale to its unpredictable conclusion. For many, it is a story that will never be told, synopses occasionally shared, but desperately incomplete and grammatically redundant.
But for the tiniest few, their lives yearn for the limelight, or tales accumulated from imaginary fragments amount to more than daydreams and fantasies, seeking the printed page, fresh eyes and the expanse of new imaginations to play in.
The 18th annual Byron Bay Writers’ Festival this year boasts a stunning array of over luminaries of the literary world across a wealth of genres. Crime writing, biography, environmental, factual and political, poetry, romance, travel, even children’s writing is represented in a fantastic and fascinating diversity of events.
Hosted across four separate venues and multiple stages, the 2014 Byron Bay Writers’ Festival offers something for everyone, whether you’re an avid scribe or never intend to write another word in your life. Although workshops and hands-on skills development are a feature of the festival, it also incorporates the presentation of the written word, in conversation, oration and lyrics. A forum for writers to launch new publications and share some fond favourites, it allows us the opportunity to experience these works as their creators intended.
A superb lineup of local, national and international literary celebrities will be present and activities offer a something-for-everyone program suitable for all ages and interests. Andy Griffiths, local TV star turned writer, Tristan Bancks and Mem Fox, creator of the exquisite Possum Magic (among dozens of other titles) will be joined by peers for the Kids Big Day Out, a festival within the festival for the young, and young at heart.
If the darker underworld is more your scene, favouring nights curled in blankets in fear of what the turn of a page may bring, a collection of crime authors will share with you tales of murder and mystery, some of their own fabrication, others renditions of true life. These include Virginia Peters’ startling investigation into the Lismore murder in 2005 of German backpacker, Simone Strobel and John Safran‘s acclaimed live stage show in which he recounts the stunning revelations of a weekend spent with one of Mississippi’s most notorious white supremacists.
Food, for the stomach and for thought, also feature significantly in this year’s calendar. Travel the Indian spice route with fêted chef Christine Manfield at her Literary Lunch at the Byron at Byron resort or enjoy a Saturday supper with national treasures Julian Burnside and Frank Moorhouse in conversation with Sian Prior.
Senator Bob Brown and former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser will plunge into the enviro-political world, offering an exploration of Australia’s environmental vision for the future and Austro-American relations among other convoluted conversation.
If you ever thought there could be nothing rock n’ roll about writing festivals, grab some condiments and cutlery and prepare to eat your words. Liner Notes offers a poetic tribute to glam rock legend, David Bowie, or more specifically, his exuberant, extravagant alter ego, Ziggy Stardust. From Major Tom to Jean Genie, Diamond Dogs to Young Americans all are celebrated in this unique performance. Andrew Denton, Missy Higgins, Andy Griffiths and Benjamin Law will be among a host of wordsmiths waxing lyrical in homage, through stories, poetry and song.
Writing isn’t only about nerdy, bespeckled scribblers, vitamin-D deficient and socially bereft or Gauloise-chaining pseudo Voltaires, beard-stroking and sculpting verse on the tribulations of life and love. It is about weaving the rich tapestry of life into the folds of a book, sharing ideas, presenting tales and nourishing the souls of those around you near and far. It is new experience, secret journeys, love affairs and awakenings. It is laughter and joy, pain and sorrow. It is adventures into the future and delvings into the past. It is as fact as it is fiction. It is me, it is you, it is us all – every imagining, every dream, every question or answer, every thrill, every step of our lives, poured onto paper in vicarious enjoyment of this blinking, waking, breathing wonderful gift called life.
The Byron Bay Writers’ Festival information is available from the website: www.byronbaywritersfestival.com.au
– This article first appeared on Common Ground Australia on Jul 1, 2014