Do you ever find yourself wondering how would your daily menu look like if it would consist of books and authors. Who or what would you have for breakfast? Something light and fresh like contemporary flash fiction? Uplifting and witty like a book for kids? Or bitter-sweet like contemporary Japanese fiction to accompany your coffee?
If you do have daydreams like that, you are not alone. I have them all the time. They turned into reality yesterday at the Auckland Writers Festival. My menu was packed with delicious, fragrant, crunchy, invigorating goodies, boosting with nutritious antioxidants for mind and soul.
This is how I spoiled myself:
David Walliams successfully fulfilled the inevitable craving for caffeine first thing in the morning. Not only that: his serving of salty English humour satisfied children as well as their parents. He amused the crowd with full-bodied readings from his latest children’s novel Awful Auntie and also Gangsta Granny. For full list of ingredients and nutritional value, read Zac’s blog post.
To balance the amount of adrenaline and sugar in my blood and to extinguish my guilty pleasure feeling, I decided to devote myself to something more weighty (and potentially choke-risky). After quoting Nelson Mandela (“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.“) professor Jonathan Boston, co-author of Child poverty in New Zealand, spooned out worrying and icy-cold facts. In 2014 24% of children in NZ lived in poverty! For more about this shameful, damaging and morally unacceptable E ingredient of modern society, check out Ben’s blog post.
Before I knew it, it was time for lunch: filling and abundant feast of inspirations, catered by Tangata Whenua session. Co-authors of this 543-page Maori history Aroha Harris and Atholl Anderson, took us on a seven-year journey from the day the seed of the book was planted by Judith Binney (who unfortunately passed away before the publication of book) till the harvest was hand-picked, cooked and served. It did not need a karakia as its level of tapu is without a measure.
Encompassing a mix of scientific approaches in the book (which by the way won the 2015 Royal Society of New Zealand Science Book Prize a night before), it was put together to tell a tangata whenua history from origins to today, avoiding the contamination with political aspects and staying faithful to its encyclopedic and social purposes.
“I like the audience to have their view of the song”
Afternoon tea was served by Hollie Fulbrook, singer, songwriter and initiator of the band Tiny Ruins (if you haven’t listen to them yet, you are missing out big time! Their album Brightly Painted One was named Best Alternative Album at the 2014 NZ Music Awards). Hollie took us on her musical sailings: from early beginnings (if you ever wondered, Billy is a love song dedicated to her goldfish), through her travels on the road (spiced up by the influence of Beat poets and Chekhov) – to her student years, when her melancholy sweet voice and stroking words found their form. Her vocal tenderness coupled into harmony with two other scrumptious layers of this irresistible piece of cake: Cass Basil (bass) and Alexander Freer (drums).
Intellectual evening dinning followed, featuring brilliant word-connoisseur Anna Smaill and metaphysical thriller chef Bernard Beckett. Intriguing, mind provoking ideas about memory, identity, death, apocalypse, language and the trend of an orphaned male hero were addressed. The entrées were served as readings from authors recent YA dystopian novels Chimes and Lullaby.
And finally – my favourite. Green tea in a fragile japanese porcelain. Haruki Murakami: subtle, clear, witty, wise, mysterious. Almost dreamlike. The air among the crowd was charged with deep mindful attentiveness. I had a feeling the whole world would end by a wave of a hand. Life very rarely blesses us with such experiences – thanks to Donna, we have it truthfully captured in her brilliant blog post. Haruki left a big question mark at the bottom of my tea cup. But also an ever-growing warmth of content in my heart.