Word for WORD: Quotes of the festival

Literary festivals are wonderfully educational things. If you open your ears and listen, seemingly the wisdom of the world will made available to you.

And some of it is quite pithy too. Now that the extended programme events have been completed we’ve gathered together our favourite quotes from the writers and thinkers of WORD Christchurch 2016. Read and receive their wit and/or wisdom.

On Writing

“To create Lena, I took elements from a wide range of … characters and sources. These were the disparate, disconnected limbs and organs I harvested and stitched together to make my monster. It was my job to add flesh and skin, and then to animate her.” Tracy Farr

“You’re writing fiction; take liberties.” Tracy Farr

“We have over-simplified things for children. Children’s sentences need to be longer. We need more semi-colons.” Kate de Goldi on writing for children

“Writing is a form of changing energy into words.” John Freeman

“The worst place for creativity is a desk. I need to be out-and-about stealing ideas!” Alice Canton on creativity

“I wanted to create a journal of stories that would silence a dinner party.” John Freeman on his new journal Freeman’s

Andy Griffiths
Andy Griffiths. WORD Christchurch event. Friday 16 September 2016. Flickr File Reference: 2016-09-16-IMG_6102

“Do I have any chips for writers? No, I don’t share my chips.” Nobody can grab Andy Griffiths’ ghost chips.

“My job as a writer is to stop my characters from solving problems.” Andy Griffiths

Politics

“You get tragedy and farce in all of life – and politics is a part of life” Peter S. Field on the US Presidential race.

“His plans for being president don’t seem like those of someone who thought about being president for more than an hour…” Steve Hely on Donald Trump.

Toby Manhire with Steve Hely
Toby Manhire with Steve Hely, WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival. Friday 26 August 2016. Flickr File Reference: 2016-08-27-IMG_2495

“You want boring people in government. You want outrageous people on TV.” Steve Hely on what makes a good politician.

“Politics doesn’t just happen in parliament – it affects lives. Laws aren’t made in a vacuum” Fiona Kidman

“A world without intelligent discourse gets you Trump and Brexit.” Duncan Greive tells it like it is.

“It’s like watching a political version of the O.J Simpson trial.” Dr Amy Fletcher regarding the Trump/Clinton political situation and its polarizing effect.

“I venture to suggest that a man who dyes his hair is a man not to be trusted” Peter Bromhead referring to Prime Minister John Key

Womanhood

“I don’t think men should read my book” Jodi Wright dismisses a male reviewer who used the words “sex slave”.

“My body is not an apology” Tusiata Avia reads from her poem.

Tusiata Avia at WORD Christchurch The stars are on fire gala
Tusiata Avia at WORD Christchurch The stars are on fire gala, WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival. Friday 26 August 2016. Flickr File Reference: 2016-08-26-IMG_5772

“There’s not a lot of money in feminism.” Debbie Stoller

“I find it hard to have respect for people who say they are not feminist” Debbie Stoller

“Because wanting equality as a human being is exactly like the Holocaust” Tara Moss on the term “feminazi”

That’s different…

“Do what works for you, however weird it seems.” Tracy Farr on weirdness

“Magazines smell really good; the Internet doesn’t” James Dann is not wrong.

James Dann and How to start a magazine panel
James Dann and How to start a magazine panel, WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival. Sunday 28 August 2016. Flickr File Reference: 2016-08-28-IMG_5849

“I’ve watched a lot of porno on tape…” the start of an audience question at the No sex please we’re teenagers session.

“New Regent Street – a time period that has never existed in New Zealand” The Unicorn

“I appreciate this dystopian polemic, sir, but is there a question?” Kim Hill to a persistently long-winded audience member.

“When it is someone you love, a bit of decomposition doesn’t matter.” Caitlin Doughty on dealing with our own dead.

“Being “othered” is something that pervades your daily life in New Zealand.” Alice Canton

“I know it’s after 10pm and Christchurch, emphasis on the Christ…” The Unicorn

Channelling Oprah

“Community is a social lifeboat…” Justin Cronin on disaster response and community

“A child is a deal you make with the future.” Justin Cronin

“We raise our voices, not shouting but singing” David Levithan

“Use your powers for good” Ivan Coyote

Ivan Coyote at WORD Christchurch The stars are on fire gala
van Coyote at WORD Christchurch The stars are on fire gala, WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival. Friday 26 August 2016. Flickr File Reference: 2016-08-26-IMG_5775

More WORD Christchurch

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

My word! Quotes by New Zealand women

Massey University has released a list of contenders for 2015’s Quote of the Year, and the lack of quotes by women was noted in  this article by Alex Casey in The Spinoff: Are New Zealand’s Quotes of the Year Really All By Men?

Word
WORD art in Auckland. Flickr: 2013-05-18-IMG_7052

This seems odd. There are heaps of top quotes from New Zealand women writers this year:

Paula Morris at the On belonging WORD Christchurch session.

People think when you’re a writer and you haven’t written a novel for ten years that you’re just lying around eating bon bons all day.

Fiona Farrell (at the Imaginary Cities WORD Christchurch session)

I find great poignancy & loveliness in our constant attempt to make life better.

Margaret Wilson is eminently quotable – here are some from her WORD Christchurch session on the struggle for sovereignty:

The economy is not an end in itself.

Dairy farmers will be sold out in the interests of getting a political agreement.

Media is owned by people who don’t give a stuff about the media.

At the Auckland Writers Festival, Aroha Harris said:

History is one of the most powerful colonizing tools available. Especially if you are writing it from your point of view as a hero.

Hmmmm.

For all you lovers of words, see also the splendiferous annual wordup Public Address word of the year.

The Quotable Auckland Writers Festival

Here are some of favourite quotes which I managed to write down during the Auckland Writers Festival. I was struggling to rank them in a list from best to awesome, but you can judge them according to your own taste and preference.

“Reality is a bit more than we think it is.” Ben Okri

“The only limit with your story is imagination.” David Walliams

“If people read their authors, it’s their richness.” Ben Okri

“My stories are always unpredictable to myself” Haruki Murakami

“You feel like a magician when you write.” David Walliams

“I’m writing books for my people, not for my country.” Haruki Murakami

“Good thing is that people are writing books about what we’re doing wrong.” Charlotte Grimshaw

“I like the audience to have their view of the songs.” Hollie Fullbrook

“It is important to try and inspire those ones who don’t read, to read.” David Walliams

“Truth can hurt, but not knowing can hurt more.” Alan Cumming

“Curiosity is willingness to step in somebody else’s shoes.” Atul Gawande

“We don’t love our past enough to bring it into our present.” Aroha Harris

“History is one of the most powerful colonizing tools available. Especially if you are writing it from your point of view as a hero.” Aroha Harris

“More knowledge from parents to children.” Xinran

“We are in an age, when a move from home is a mythic experience.” Anna Smaill

“Everyone has an amazing story to tell.” David Walliams

“Remain yourself. Your experience is the most interesting. Be what you are.” Alan Cumming

“Hearts get broken over the breakfast table.” Anton Chekhov (only present in spirit and quoted by Hollie Fullbrook).

“You should always have a picture of a 100% boy, even when you have 78% husband.” Haruki Murakami

What I realized transcribing these quotes is that some of them are deeply embedded in the context of writer’s work or their life experience. But what makes them so beautiful is their universality. Everyone can interpret them in their own way.

Festival quotes: A selection of short, sharp sentences

Festival scene
All go at the festival

It can be hard to capture all of the ground that is covered in the festival sessions. More than wide-ranging discussion, conversations here can be free-range, become free-base, and then end up anywhere in the literary galaxy.

So From my outpost 2403 on the metropolis planet Libhoo, here are some of the insightful and inspiring lines, phrases and sentences  from the festival so far:

  • Te Radar introduced us to the SINBAD – single income, no boyfriend and desperate.
  • “Stuff the general public”. Ben Naparstek shared this quote from an academic that ended his romantic idea of the public intellectual and helped him decide to end his studying days. Why bother studying and becoming an expert if you don’t want to communicate it, he asked.
  • The Ghost of Eion Scarrow. Te Radar’s response to Steve Braunias’s assertion Radar was the thinking man’s Eion Scarrow – which was followed by a power cut to the set.
  • “A cluster of squabbling sub-cultures” – Sarah Thornton describes the art world.
  • “Abysmal specimens of humanity” John Carey on artists. He said he was brought up to believe that the arts made you a better person, but the more he studied artists, the more he found that wasn’t true. Chekhov was an exception.
  • “Makes Glastonbury look like a Rotary dinner”. William Dalrymple on the Baul minstrels of Bengal.
  • The rest of her life would be a struggle with the unfamiliar. Colm Toibin reading from Brooklyn.
  • Gomez, Morticia and Uncle Fester – Emily Perkin’s description of Gordon McLauchlan, Jennifer Ward-Lealand and Finlay Macdonald.
  • The book is dead, but the story goes on. Te Radar summing up The Good Word debate.
  • Luke’s CD $20. Handwritten sign on Luke Hurley’s busking set-up on Queen Street.