Quotable Auckland Writers Festival 2016

Author quote postcards at Auckland Writers Festival 2016
Author quote postcards at Auckland Writers Festival 2016

Quotes are one of those serendipitous things, that infest every festival session. You forget to expect them, until they poke out of the conversation, like fireworks, showing off their intelligence, wit and subtlety with a style and a good measure of flamboyance.

Here are some of the top quotes of this year’s Auckland Writers Festival – hand picked by festival angels Moata, Roberta and myself:

Laughter is crucial – it’s like an orgasm of the mind. // Gloria Steinem

Even if love is not going to save anyone, we keep on doing it. It has no result in culture that is so result orientated. // Hanya Yanagihara

If one dream dies, I’m going to dream another dream and I’m going to dream it bigger. // Pettina Gappah

The trouble with a book is that you never know what’s in it until it’s too late. // Jeanette Winterson quoting her mother

My endings might be sad, but I like to think of them as authentic endings. // John Boyne

I’ve had the kind of happy childhood that’s so damaging to a writer. // Thomas Mallon

Janna Levin, Thomas Mallon and Gloria Steinem
Janna Levin, Thomas Mallon and Gloria Steinem (Image supplied)

In the story “The Princess and the Pea”,  I never wanted to be the princess. I wanted to be the pea – writing helped me do that. //  Vivian Gornick

Characters of children’s books need to be rebels. // Edward Carey

If you don’t understand the book, read it again. If you still don’t understand it, read again. If you still don’t understand it, throw it away. // David Eggleton on importance of understanding a book when writing a book review

Most opinions are just emotions in fancy dress. // Joe Bennett

Assumptions are the mother of all stuff-ups. // Helene Wong

Opening night Awf16
Carmen Aguirre, Tusiata Avia, Joe Bennett, Pettina Gappah, Peter Garrett, Vivian Gornick, Herman Koch and Jeanette Winterson. (Image supplied)

I have a brain tumour. I experience many unfamiliar and unreal moments. I am frequently unfamiliar even to myself. // Tusiata Avia

I could never see the distinction between Science and Art. Medicine is art to me. // Jean-Christophe Rufin

Creativity is a kind of anchoring. It is a lie detector which prevents us from living life in a blur. // Jeanette Winterson

Fancy some more? Read other blogs from Auckland Writers Festival and find your own favourite quote!

Find out more

Tusiata Avia and Maxine Beneba Clarke on friendship and reading beyond the colour – Auckland Writers Festival 2016

Do you remember the excitement of finding a true friend in high school days? When you were lost but then found yourself by finding a friend? When you realized there is someone else out there, who likes the same weird books as you do, listens to the same music and shares the same humour and passion for so many other exciting things? The one you could talk to late into the night and (nearly) never run out of things to say? And when you did, it was nice and comfortable to just be quiet. Together.

AWF16tusiata
Tusiata Avia (Image supplied)

I came across such friendship at this year’s Auckland Writers Festival. Though it revealed to me on the stage, it was clearly not staged. Christchurch born poet Tusiata Avia and Maxine Beneba Clarke, Australian poet and writer, were like two shy girls, who have gathered in their hideaway, somewhere far from the adult’s world, to share their most precious and beloved sweets with each other. Sitting behind the coffee table on the stage, they were begging each other to read another poem. And another. And another – almost forgetting about the presence of the audience.

There was something truthful and playful in their relationship, in this game of exchanging tiny little gems. In the era of authorship and general egocentrism, it is very rare to see such genuine friendship amongst authors. Most of the time, we read about one single author, we listen to her or him speak on the stage about their work. So having two minds and hearts tripping on each other with such sincerity was really refreshing.

AWF16beneba
Maxine Beneba Clarke (Image supplied)

Maxine and Tusiata read poems from their award-winning books. There was a big stack of them on the table, with stationery stickers in various places, marking pages populated by voices that wanted to be heard. Gifts that Maxine laid on the table included her newly released poetry collection Carrying the World, a collection of short stories Foreign soil and three other collections of poetry. Tusiata brought along her Wild Dogs Under My Skirt, Bloodclot and freshly launched Fale Aitu | Spirit House, all poetry collections as well.

Voices captured in their work are voices of diaspora. Many different voices, who speak many different Englishes. But for Maxine as well as Tusiata the main reason why these voices need to be heard and their stories told lays in the human experience and not in the cultural aspects these voices bring with them. So they are both getting a bit tired of culturally and racially focused receptions of their work, when their intention is to show something universal, something human. “It is not a great position to be in,” says Tusiata. “If you are a ‘writer of colour’ you are pigeonholed at the beginning of every presentation. People need to identify you before they engage with your work.”But at the same time, she confesses, that identification is unavoidable, as “poetry is so personal and our personal paths are about where we are from.”

Cover of wild dogs undermy skirt  Cover of Fale aitu -  spirit house

They are not the only ones raising their concern about the biased reception of work from ‘writers of colour’. During the Sunday session titled The Diversity debate, Marlon James declared, half jokingly, half serious, that he will not be attending any sessions about diversity any more. Pettina Gappah earlier that afternoon talked about the burden that sort of labelling gives to ‘coloured writers’: “This label comes with expectations of what you talk about in your work.”

I could feel myself being challenged after each of the sessions. They made me think of myself as a reader and my own reception of work written by ‘writers of colour’. And they also made me wonder, if true friendship happens, when we look at the world above and beyond pigeonholes of colour, sex, race, ability, language, culture, age and socio-economic status. According to Maxine’s inscription in my copy of her book, that may as well be true. “From my heart to yours”, it says.

Which, when read again, it could also sound like a tutorial on how to read.

Find out more

Science Snippets – Matariki

Each week during term time (except the first and last week) the team from Science Alive bring their Science Snippets sessions into our libraries. Excellent Science Alive educators lead children through interactive activities to stimulate their interest in science, and there is something to take home every week! There is a different theme for each session and this coming week from Monday 30 May it’s Matariki.

You are sure to learn all about Matariki and the stars. We have a great page for kids about Matariki. Learn all about Matariki and traditions, what happens at Matariki and find some cool colouring pages.

Here are some great nonfiction books that we have in the library if you want to learn more about Matariki and the stars:

Here are some stories about Matariki and stars to read too:

We also have some fantastic eResources with heaps of information about stars.  Check these out:

  • Britannica Library Kids– a search for ‘stars’ gives you information about stars, with different levels of information for different ages.
  • World Book Kids – a search for ‘stars’ gives you some basic information about stars, along with some suggestions for other topics you might like to look at for more information.
  • National Geographic Kids – a search for ‘stars’ gives you some great information from the National Geographic Kids magazine as well as access to several eBooks about stars and the solar system.

More information about Science Alive’s Science Snippets.