FIVE FESTIVAL PICKS: Alex Casey
Caitlin Doughty is quite possibly the gnarliest woman on the internet, with her Youtube channel ‘Ask a Mortician’ answering all the curly questions you’ve always wanted to know about rigor mortis, cremation and tattooing corpses (if that’s what you’re into). For someone who has always had a very healthy and not at all concerning obsession with my own Final Destination-style death, I’ve binge-watched all her videos in the lead-up to the festival. Bring a strong stomach, some hard-hitting questions and a tattoo machine if you’re game.
In teaching women how to use their voice and be heard, Tara Moss single-handedly changed a little corner of my life with her latest book Speaking Out. I was reading it on the bus, and when I got off I thanked the driver in the clearest, loudest voice I have ever mustered in my life. Beyond that very literal interpretation of her ethos, Moss has also done God’s work in outlining a manifesto of mansplain scenarios that women speaking out will encounter. It felt equal parts grim and cathartic to be able to tick most of them off in a single sitting. I honestly can’t wait to see the fire she brings, and thank her for her work in a very loud and proud way.
The founder and editor of BUST magazine, aka Jezebel years before Jezebel was even a twinkle in Gawker’s eye, Debbie Stoller is a true and pure legend in the feminism and pop culture world. She reminded the world that historically feminine interests such as craft, knitting and celebrity intrigue were not things to be scoffed at, but celebrated. As someone who lives and breathes “low culture” like The Bachelor and Kylie Jenner’s snapstories, Stoller’s work has contributed to a total revolution in what we consider “useful” when talking about feminism. Bring your knitting.
Steve Hely has written for all of the good television shows. All of them. Letterman. 30 Rock. The Office. He’s even won a bloody Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Variety or Comedy Show for his work, which is about the greatest and spikiest of all the coveted awards there are. I want to know if he was involved in engineering the greatest cupcake car experience of all time, the most emotional single duet ever performed in a sitcom or the oldest television character ever written.
Look, I’m only suggesting this because I am in it and it’s bound to be an absolutely spectacular car crash of a shambles. Many people don’t know this, but the folk behind The Spinoff are quite a lot like Gremlins – as in we shouldn’t be fed a public platform anywhere close to midnight. 10pm is way too close, and I can only promise that what will transpire on that stage is bound to baffle, shock and confuse.
FIVE FESTIVAL PICKS: James Dann
James Dann, political commentator and RDU breakfast host tells us what he looking forward to most in the festival:
- Reimagining Journalism – This book can’t come soon enough – looking forward to going to the talk, then the launch and picking up my copy!
- Giving Them Hell: Political cartoons – Twitter is a great medium for sharing dumb ideas, but also brilliant for the rapid dissemination of great pictures. Some of the most retweeted are the editorial cartoons, and now we get to see all of the best from illustrators across the land. I feel like we’re in a bit of a golden age for politics cartoons in this country, and I’m really interested in how they all come up with these ideas.
- The Great Divide? – This has been an interesting, heated, angry debate that has played out across a few key essays in the internet. I don’t agree with a lot that was written, and I’m hoping that this will be a lively, conflicting debate about some of the issues being discussed.
- The Sunday Fringe – Yeah, I’m hosting one of the sessions, but I’ll be staying around for all the others too. Plus, the venue is the best new spot in the city and a great spot to spend a Sunday afternoon.
- Cities of Tomorrow – While a lot a hope and fire seems to have gone from the rebuild, it’s still a thing that we need to talk about. Plus also, I’m a massive Kim Hill fanboy and can’t miss a chance to see all her weird ticks play out in real life.
plus also The Spinoff After Dark of course …
FIVE FESTIVAL PICKS: Zac MacCallum
Continuing our series of interesting people picking their Top 5 Festival Picks, we welcome Christchurch children’s librarian Zac McCallum whose My Best Friends are Books blog is a fabulous resource for parents and kids. Here’s Zac:
As someone with a passion for children’s literature I really appreciate the emphasis that the organisers of WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival place on bringing great authors for young readers to Christchurch. There are some fantastic events for kids, teens and families this year and here are my top 5 (in no particular order):
Margaret Mahy Memorial Lecture – I’m hugely excited to meet one of my favourite YA authors, David Levithan, and hear him deliver the Margaret Mahy Memorial Lecture. This is the second time that the lecture has been presented, in honour of Margaret Mahy and her imagination. David’s lecture is sure to be fascinating.
No Sex Please, We’re Teenagers – sex in Young Adult novels has always been a controversial topic so it’s great to see some of our best YA authors discussing the issue. It will be especially interesting to get Ted Dawe’s views on the topic, given the controversy around his award-winning book, Into the River.
Teens in Peril – I have the pleasure of introducing the wonderful authors on this panel – Anna Mackenzie, Jane Higgins, Rachael Craw and Ted Dawe. Each of the authors will be sharing extracts from most recent books. I am very excited to hear Rachael Craw reading from Shield, the final book in her amazing Spark Trilogy.
Read the World – I also have the pleasure of introducing for this session – New Zealand authors David Hill and Kate De Goldi, and international author Nadia Hashimi. They will be sharing extracts from their books that take young readers all over the world, from Christchurch to Afghanistan.
Treehouse Tales with Andy Griffiths – I’m a huge Andy Griffiths fan so I can’t wait to hear him talk about his Treehouse series. Andy Griffiths is hugely popular so this event will sell out. This is one of the satellite events that are happening outside of Festival week. It is thanks to WORD Christchurch that we get to meet these big authors like Andy Griffiths and David Walliams in Christchurch throughout the year.
WORD’S TOP SEVEN FILM FESTIVAL PICKS
Pic: Marlon Williams in The Rehearsal
As usual, there is so much goodness at the New Zealand International Film Festival, and it’s always so hard to narrow down choices. So we’re here to help, with our Seven Literary Film Picks!
The Rehearsal – this one takes top spot. Eleanor Catton’s unique first novel, adapted by Emily Perkins, and directed by Alison Maclean. Maclean and producer Bridget Ikin will be on hand for a Q and A. We can’t wait to see how they have managed to film a book that seemed unfilmable.
The Handmaiden – A South Korean adaptation of the seductive Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, who was a WORD Christchurch guest in 2015. A fantastic novel, by an amazing writer, with sublime narrative twists, transplanted into a completely different culture. Count us in.
Obit – This film meets the people who write obituaries for the New York Times. Upcoming WORD Christchurch guest Toby Manhire says: “Absorbing and affectionate, Obit is a tonic for writers and lovers of good writing.” You can’t argue with that!
A Quiet Passion – Terence Davies (Distant Voices, Still Lives) writes and directs a portrait of Emily Dickinson.
Neruda – Not so much a biopic of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, as a story of an obsessive fictional detective on his trail. Intrigued.
Le Ride – The only reason we’ve mentioned this one is it seems that Phil Keoghan is reliving the remarkable ride by a team of Australians and one New Zealander in the 1928 Tour de France – the same ride that David Coventry has immortalised in 2015’s The Invisible Mile. We wonder if they’ve had a conversation about it…
Endless Poetry – a film about the bohemian life of a poet in Santiago of the 1940s and 50s. Sounds like every romantic’s dream film.
FIVE FESTIVAL PICKS: Raf Manji
In Five Festival Picks, we’ll be asking a variety of interesting people with different tastes to name the sessions they are most looking forward to in the WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival.
First up: Raf Manji, Christchurch City Councillor
Buy a festival pass and go in the draw!
You know how you just can’t resist buying books when you’re at a festival and you’re faced with such a feast…? Well, if you buy a full festival pass by 12 August, you will be in the draw to win a $200 book voucher to spend at the festival, courtesy of the University Bookshop!
National Portrait: Rachael King, literary director, by Philip Matthews
Photo by John Kirk-Anderson
Books by women in bands – you can barely swing a cat in a bookstore these days without hitting one. There are the acclaimed memoirs of Kim Gordon, Tracey Thorn, Carrie Brownstein and Viv Albertine. But where are the local examples?
Perhaps Rachael King is best placed to write one. Before becoming a writer and the literary director of the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival, King was a teenage rock musician. Is there a memoir in her about life on the road when you should be at school?
The Press: WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival: ‘Entertaining and brilliant’
By Eleanor Black
A mortician, an environmentalist and a cartoonist walk into a festival…
Also former sex workers, musicians, independent publishers and Americans alarmed by their loopy presidential campaign.
The biennial WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival brings together a diversity of voices for five days next month, traversing themes of feminism, gender, migration, indigenous peoples’ rights and climate change.
Christchurch’s festival of literature and ideas — the WORD is out
The biennial WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival returns to the centre of Christchurch 24-28 August with more than 100 local and international speakers taking part in over 70 events, bringing the community together through a love of words.
Featuring fiction, poetry, storytelling, free children’s events, comedy, live music, debates, discussions, performances and a few surprises, WORD Christchurch embraces the theme of ‘the planet and its people’ with world-renowned environmentalist Tim Flannery; popular American young adult writer David Levithan; LA-based mortician, author and Youtube star Caitlin Doughty; New Zealand’s Poet Laureate CK Stead; ITV science correspondent Alok Jha; Inuit writer and activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier; Kiwi literary treasure Fiona Kidman; Afghan-American physician and novelist Nadia Hashimi; winner of the inaugural Acorn Literary Prize at the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, Stephen Daisley; television comedy writer (30 Rock, The Office) Steve Hely; New Zealand young adult novelist Anna Mackenzie; poet Tusiata Avia, returning to her hometown; Canadian author and human rights advocate Tara Moss; an evening of celebration for Flying Nun records; the presentation of the 2016 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel and much more.
WORD Christchurch literary director, Rachael King, says this year is about getting up close to stories that impact us culturally, personally and environmentally.
“WORD 2016 is a platform for ideas and discussion about the things that move and concern us, as well as the things that entertain and comfort us.
“In addition to seeing many of your favourite local authors, you’ll hear stories from refugees and indigenous writers from around the world, engaging science speakers, reflections on feminism, gender and sexuality, and a continuation of our Shifting Points of View series designed to challenge ways of thinking about issues.”
The festival takes place in a brand new venue, The Piano, in the heart of Christchurch’s future performing arts precinct, and will breathe life into the inner city.
Fringe events will run throughout the festival at various bars and cafes around town, including a full day at Space Academy. “The fringe events are in response to feedback from younger festival audiences about the desire to see their concerns and interests reflected on the stage in an accessible way,” says King.
This year’s programme also features two days of events for primary and secondary school students.
WORD also features two of the world’s great storytellers in September satellite events. Justin Cronin, whose book The Passage was a global phenomenon, will appear on the 15th of that month and children’s writer, Andy Griffiths, who is best known for The Treehouse series, will appear on the 16th.
WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival warmly thanks its major funders Christchurch City Council, Creative New Zealand, Christchurch City Council, the Rata Foundation and The Press; festival and session sponsors Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, PwC, Boffa Miskell, Duncan Cotterill, Environment Canterbury, The Royal Society of New Zealand, Kate Sylvester, Ballantynes, Antarctica New Zealand, UC Science and Harcourts Gold; our festival patrons and supporters, partners and supporting publishers.