Auckland Writers Festival – how to do it on the cheap

One thing I absolutely love about Auckland Writers Festival is the atmosphere. The whole space, the plaza and Aotea Centre breathe together with the events! It is a festival in true meaning of the word. It doesn’t take much to soak up this atmosphere, you can just park yourself comfortably in one of the couches and be present.

Here are a few tips on how to do the whole festival thing with minimal financial input (ignoring the costs of travel and accommodation):

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Emergency poet Deborah Alma will diagnose you and prescribe – a poem.

Visit the emergency poet. For the last three days of the festival, an ambulance has been parked in front of the venue. Emergency poet Deborah Alma can asses your state and prescribe the right medicine, which is – a poem! Her 10 minute one-to-one consultation sessions are booked out, but she has an extensive collection of pre-mixed medications ready to heal you. I diagnosed myself with severe indecisiveness. I got a little red pill. Inside of it was a role of tiny piece of paper with Mary Oliver‘s (note the surname!) verse: “Tell me, what will you do with your one wild and precious life?” (I’ll take it to the Writers Festival, I answered to Mary, and I was cured!)

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Deborah’s pharmacy.

Attend free sessions. There is plenty of very well-themed and diversely crafted free sessions on offer right throughout the weekend. Be it a debate, a reading, a discussion or a workshop-like event, you just have to bring your open mind and get in a queue.

Talk to a stranger, you might find a book mate. Standing in a queue is a perfect time to find out what else is going on at the festival and to update yourself on sessions you missed out. I never imagined it would be so easy to start a conversation!

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Reassuring piles of books.

Browse through the book stalls and catch glimpses of authors at the signing. Book prices are reasonable, so you can always buy one and get it signed by the author. Most of authors are very approachable, so you might get a chance of a chat!

Watch the fashion show roll out in front of your eyes. I would need an extra day at the festival just to sit in the corner of the foyer and watch the spontaneous fashion procession go by. It is so mesmerizing, it almost feels like being on another planet: diversity of styles, unpredictability of combinations, colours and materials is just divine. I wish my mum could see it!

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Find your own truth captured on one of the cards.

Look out for freebies. Make sure you sniff around properly. This year organizers printed out cards with authors quotes, which you might find lying around on the tables, and also a small charming booklet of stories and illustrations, some of them made especially for the festival.

Find out more

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