Readers & Writers Festival successful

This year’s festival was well enjoyed by the capacity attendance. The programme was varied: To begin, Jeffrey Paparoa Holman chaired a panel consisting of Pat White and David Young, in order to ‘resurrect’ Coast poet and teacher, Peter Hooper. This was followed by a launch of his collected poems, published by Cold Hub Press. Sandra Arnold talked of her latest work which moves between historic periods and at the evening dinner Pat White read some of his poems and Paul Maunder told the story of Edward Darracott, inspirational teacher at Kotuku School in the late 19030s.

The next morning saw Becky Manawatu in conversation witih Stevan Eldred-Grigg, Elspeth Sandys speaking of her uncle, Rewi Alley; lunch was followed by an interview with Nicky Hager and the day ended with a conversation between Caroline Selwood, Tim Jones and Kathleen Gallagher. The festival finished with a dinner where guests read personal letters of resonance.

The feedback has been glowing:

The Blackball Readers and Writers Festival was a treasure where books served as jewels, gold coins as talent, and the many conversations were clever baubles from foreign lands.  You are masterful in the way you brought them all together.  I admire the spunk and grit needed to get a thing like that off the ground, and I am most appreciative of the ordinary elegance that gave it wings.  There is authentic wisdom in downplaying renown and accentuating talent. Hoorah to Te Puawai Cooperative! Choose joy, Zella.

Just a quick note to sincerely thank you and Carolyn for a wonderful weekend at the Blackball Festival. As an ex-patriot returning to NZ (and more particularly reconnecting with the West Coast), it was a fantastic dose of the culture that I have been missing over 30 years spent in London.  I’m sure it was not easy in having to “carry-over” a program in these uncertain times, but the whole atmosphere seemed to click right from the start, and the contributors and audience were all uplifted by the sense of a non-judgemental community simply seeking to benefit from the joys of exploring ideas and knowledge together. Russell Deyell.

Congratulations on a fantastic weekend. We had a ball. While we couldn’t come to the evening events (we have a toddler who needs feeding and putting to bed just when the fun usually kicks off!) we came away stimulated and charged up from the talks during the day. My highlights were discovering Peter Hooper’s poetry in depth, Becky’s talk, the session with Elspeth on Rewi Ally – what a masterful presenter she is – and Nicky Hager. So impressive. And thank you for your kind invitation to speak at a forthcoming festival. Let me know your address, and I’ll get a copy of Uprising posted out to you. Kā mihi mahana, Nic.

So, a rest for a year – in 2022 we will hold a retreat and hopefully host another writer in residence; perhaps two, for there is the prospect of the Labour History Project funding a writer as well.


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