A dynamic and diverse group of the finest international and national writers will converge on Wellington in March for the New Zealand International Arts Festival’s Writers and Readers Week.
This eagerly anticipated Festival week begins with world-leading environmentalist Tim Flannery who will open the Town Hall Talks. Inspirational feminist Germaine Greer will deliver a life and times session, and three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman will give the closing address.
Wellington’s Embassy Theatre, home base for Writers and Readers Week, hosts an impressive array of writers discussing secrets and crimes, says Programme Manager, Anne Chamberlain. “Secrets about writing, secret histories, and secrets about exploring the world in fact, fiction and fantasy.”
Man Booker prize-winner Alan Hollinghurst discusses his recently released highly-acclaimed novel The Stranger’s Child; British biographer Selina Hastings reveals The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham; Kate Grenville and Kim Scott dig deep into Australia’s past; German writer Jenny Erpenbeck explores Germany’s dark history; Columbian writer Juan Gabriel Vásquez discusses The Secret History of Costaguana; Ron Rash reveals life in the moody, rugged Appalachians and Kelly Link explores other worldly realms of fantasy and magic realism.
British screenwriter and playwright Robert Shearman discusses how he famously returned the Dalek to Doctor Who in 2005, in an episode initially viewed by 8.6 million people. This session includes a screening of his Dalek episode.
International best-selling Norwegian Jo Nesbø heads up a crime strand including Scottish novelist Denise Mina and three of New Zealand’s own crime writers - Paul Cleave, Vanda Symon and Paul Thomas.
British poet and translator Michael Hulse, Toronto’s Poet Laureate Dionne Brand and New Zealand poet Harry Ricketts share their poetry. New Zealand’s first Poet Laureate Bill Manhire hosts a public poetry masterclass, and the famous dead poet is included in a session where Germaine Greer examines the life of women in Shakespeare’s day.
Where Were You in 72? brings together Germaine Greer, Marilyn Waring and Sandra Coney to discuss past, current and future social and political issues. Chris Bourke uncovers the history of New Zealand’s popular music and Auckland scientist Michael Corballis journeys around the human mind.
New Zealand fiction writers include Patrick Evans delving into the imagined world of Janet Frame and Frank Sargeson, Fiona Farrell on working and living with the Christchurch quakes, and Paula Morris and Linda Olsson discussing their life and work. Also featured are emerging writers Eleanor Catton, Hamish Clayton and Craig Cliff.
The Festival’s Art on the Move programme includes sessions with New Zealand’s Emerging Writers in Masterton and International Poets at Paekakariki Dionne Brand and Michael Hulse.
Tim Flannery will also address secondary school students at the Wellington Town Hall on Friday 9 March. Other Schools Day writers are Elizabeth Knox, American fantasy slipstream writer Kelly Link, and award-winning New Zealand young adult fiction writers Bernard Beckett and Jane Higgins.
Young Writers and Readers Day at Downstage Theatre on Sunday 11 March provides a rare opportunity to experience three of New Zealand’s most-loved children’s writers - Lynley Dodd, Gavin Bishop and Margaret Mahy.
Three lunchtime sessions at Downstage focus on the business of writing - Why Isn’t Theatre Dead Yet?, The Art of Translation and Are We the Last Real Book Readers?
The Town Hall Talks; Young Writers and Readers Day; Art on the Move; Schools Day; Bookmark Pass and Take Five Pass are on sale now. The multi-passes offer generous discounts to Embassy and Downstage sessions, with The Bookmark Pass entitling holders to a preferential booking period from Friday 27 January 2012. Public bookings for Embassy and Downstage sessions open at 9am on Friday 3 February.
Teachers can make Schools Day bookings directly through the Festival website (festival.co.nz/schoolfest). Tickets to all other Writers and Readers Week events are available through Ticketek.
Writers and Readers Week is supported by the Lion Foundation, Victoria University of Wellington, Unity Books, Museum Art Hotel, Australian High Commission, Canada Council for the Arts, Embassy of Spain, Goethe Institut, John F Kennedy Memorial Fellowship and Instituto Cervantes.