Greetings all, and happy Saturday!
I’m well and truly back from my cheeky little trip to Port Fairy for the Ex Libris Festival of Words and thought it was about time that I shared some highlights with you.
Port Fairy is little but, don’t let it deceive you, it most definitely is not sleepy as I recently discovered. In fact, it’s anything but! Having just been to a heap of MWF events, the Ex Libris festival was a nice way to relax and wind down with like minded people.
Despite the 124km gale force winds and bone chilling rain, Friday evening’s Port Fairy Theatre Group Event: It Goes Through Ya Like a Dose of Aussie Kulture was a hit among locals and visitors and set the scene for the rest of the Bringing it All Back Home themed festival. Placing a strong emphasis on storytelling and the land, the theatre group did a fine job of acknowledging and exploring the link between the two. Those who braved the weather to come and watch the 30 odd year old group share classic Australian poems and short stories were well and truly entertained and moved. The quality of performances was exceptional. Local singer/songwriter Oriel Glennen, in particular, had me in tears with her chilling rendition of Henry Lawson’s Past Caring. If you ever get the opportunity to see Oriel live, you simply must go. It’s a truly magical experience.
Local book and art hub Blarney Books and Art also put on a bit of a wordy shindig with its Book Plate Workshop run by print maker and artist David Frazer and Picture This! an annual Children’s Picture Book Illustration Exhibition. I poked my head in ever so briefly on Saturday and the atmosphere was electric. Book Plate Workshop / Picture Book Illustration Exhibit or not, Blarneys has such a warm, inviting feel to it. There’s ample couch room to curl up and get lost in your latest purchase and staff are more than happy to help with obscure requests or point you in the right direction when they can’t. Thank goodness you can’t buy a pot of tea here or I would have stayed all weekend! Check out Blarney’s website for more info on what’s on – there’s always something happening. The Children’s Book Illustration Exhibition runs until October 7 and is well worth a visit with works from the likes of Shaun Tan and Bruce Whatley.
Unfortunately I missed Rachel Treasure at this year’s MWF but, low and behold, I was able to catch her at Ex Libris and I’m so glad that I was! She is just a darling. Two kids, numerous dogs (I can’t remember how many!) and partner in tow, Rachel’s talk Writing From the Grass Roots was candid, relaxed and inspiring. Here are a few words of wisdom from the “boots, utes and roots” writer herself:
“I write fearlessly. I dump it all on the page and then I come back and smell it. And let me tell you, sometimes it stinks!
“The art of writing is to put yourself into your character’s head. It’s about having a really open mind. If you’re dogmatic and judgmental, you’re going to bash your readers over the head.
The thing I love about these more rural festivals is the intimacy that you get in sessions. Rachel was more than happy to answer ample questions about ample topics – soil science included – and even let me sneak a wee photo in (if I had known I would have dressed for the occasion – excuse my ‘country’ attire!). Ta Rach!
Ex Libris is now in its twelfth year and it’s easy to see why. The locals are just divine, the program always juicy and the location, well, there’s no going past the location. If you’d like to check out what went down at this year’s fest in more detail, meander over to the Ex Libris site. Oh, and if the books and authors and locals aren’t enough to get you there next year, the vanilla slice at Rebecca’s HAS to be… it’s the best one I’ve had – ever!
A big thank you to Margaret Sinnott for co-ordinating this year’s festival.
Cheerio for now.