2023 Festival programme

The third Blackball Readers and Writers Festival will take place on King’s Birthday Weekend, 2023, running from midday Saturday, 3rd June to Sunday evening. This year’s theme is Landscapes, Political and Spiritual. It will take place once again in the beautiful and intimate setting of the local school.

To begin the festival, Jeffrey Paparoa Holman and Michael Steven will ‘recover’ the work of Greymouth bred, Bill Pearson, novelist and cultural critic, who broke new ground in the gestation of NZ writing with his novel Coal Flat, written after a stint teaching in Blackball in the 1940s. His essay, Fretful Sleepers was also a seminal critique of settler puritanism. After a break Paddy Richardson will be interviewed by Paul Maunder about her new WW1 novel. The Green of the Spring which continues the Blackball connections of Through the Lonesome Dark. There will be a half hour available for people to briefly pitch any books they’re offering for sale. After dinner, hosted by Catherine Woollett, Paul Maunder will launch his new book, Solidarity, a Blackball novel, Michael Steven and Jeffrey Paparoa Holman will read a selection of poems pertinent to the festival theme, before Harry Broad introduces the mystery of Blackball communists, Bill and Annie Balderstone. On Sunday morning Jeffrey Paparoa Holman will talk with poet Nic Low (Ngai Tahu) whose book Uprising, walking the Southern Alps of NZ is an invitation to travel one of the world’s most spectacular landscapes in the company of Māori explorers, raiding parties, and gods.’ After morning tea, children’s author, Bill Nagelkerke will talk with teacher, Zella Downing about his recent books, The Ghosts on the Hill and The ghost house which trace  Christchurch’s past and Jane Carswell will discuss with Caroline Selwood her experience as a teacher in China recorded in Under the Huang Jiao Tree and the cultural and spiritual shock which led her to embark on a spiritual journey as a writer. After lunch we focus on the political landscape as Christchurch activist, Leigh Cookson interviews the well known Auckland lawyer, writer and activist, Jane Kelsey who has critically tracked New Zealand’s involvement with neo liberalism since the Rogernomic revolution of the 1980s in a series of influential books and Paddy Richardson talks with Blackball writer and dramatist, Paul Maunder about his recently published memoir and his new book, Solidarity, a Blackball novel, a family saga which spans the last century, from the ‘08 strike to the Spanish Civil War to Isis. To round out the day, Catherine Woollett and Jeffrey Paparoa Holman share time with Sam Duckor-Jones, poet and artist who has recently moved to Greymouth to create and reside in the already famous pink church. The festival will conclude with a dinner hosted by Leigh Cookson, at which people can read a letter of importance in their lives, or simply a resonant letter, part of the festival’s aim to resurrect the art of the letter. A wide range of accommodation is available in Blackball. Once again, the festival will be limited to 50 visitors plus the writers.

Registrations are now open: wkcultur@gmail.com  ; enquiries 0211063669                             

Full festival: $100, including lunches and Saturday dinner. One day: $50. Session: $20


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