You’d be forgiven for believing that what you learn at a festival is all about writers and readers and books. But, truth is, you learn a whole heap of other stuff too – like yourself. You learn a lot about yourself.
Here’s what I learnt:
- I cannot pack light – I even pack “what if” stationery.
- I’m really good at taking notes in the dark. My “blind” notes are superior to those written in the harsh light of fluorescence. It is a minor and little-recognised talent.
- Big haired people will traverse entire auditoriums to sit right in front of me, thereby affording me the opportunity to write poisonous little asides in my notebook – in the pitch dark.
- At a festival, I can attend events all day, contribute to an audio recording at night, and then blog well after midnight. All this on a diet of caffeine, darling little ginger friands and Japanese noodles from the outlet across the road, that is: nothing green and crunchy passes my lips. This is not the me most of you know. There is, admittedly, a lot more in the way of colourful language while I’m doing it. But it can be done.
- But one of my main festival joys is being regifted the beauty of the English language. At festivals, I am reawakened to an abundance of words that I have just stopped using. I am jolted out of my language laziness and fall in love with words all over again. Not all these words are that rare, but they are heard less and less nowadays, words like this:
- Jeanette Winterson: goad; crepuscular; ponder; quash
- Steve Braunias: crestfallen; quintessential; irascible
- Vivian Gornick: – embroiled; stricken; demurred; perilous
- Jane Smiley: lampooning; nimble; plump; untethered; fastidious
All languages change: new vocabulary is created and many wonderfully evocative words fall out of use. But what can I do to stem the dumbing down of English? For starters I can be on Red Alert for the beauty and specificity of our wonderful language.
And that is the gift of Auckland Festival to me.
Find out more
- Find out more about the Auckland Writers Festival 2016
- Browse all our Auckland Writers Festival posts
- Read Masha, Moata and Roberta’s Auckland Writers Festival 2016 recommended booklist
- See photos from the Festival