Writer’s festival is free for all


With more than 40 free work­shops over five days the in­au­gu­ral Manawatu Writer’s Festival is set to be a hit for any lit­er­ary buff.

The pro­gramme, run­ning from Septem­ber 8 to 12, in­cludes au­thors, po­ets and speak­ers from around the coun­try who will host work­shops and seminars.

There are few as­pects of writ­ing it doesn’t touch on - poetry, fam­ily his­tory, in­ter­view­ing tech­niques, stand-up com­edy, war sto­ries and more.

Or­gan­iser Rachel Dore had pieced the puz­zle to­gether since Oc­to­ber and said reg­is­tra­tions be­fore the event had blown her away.

The line-up in­cludes sev­eral key note speak­ers, such as short story writer and nov­el­ist Owen Mar­shall.

It also in­cludes Vin­cent O’Mal­ley who co-founded the Welling­ton-based re­search con­sul­tancy His­tory Works. His work fo­cuses heav­ily on New Zealand his­tory and has been pub­lished widely on Crown and Maori his­tor­i­cal re­la­tion­ships, and the his­tory of Maori and Pakeha in­ter­ac­tions.

‘‘I think there’s al­most some­thing for ev­ery­one. Peo­ple who en­joy all gen­res,’’ Dore said.

‘‘I’m all for any­thing that gets peo­ple’s cre­ativ­ity out, whether it’s vis­ually or in drama or writ­ing.’’

Dore has a long as­so­ci­a­tion with writ­ing in Manawatu and a ‘‘life­time’s in­ter­est’’ in writ­ing. She has tu­tored the Feild­ing Writ­ers’ Cir­cle since 2010 and more re­cently the Night Writ­ers and Manawatu Writ­ers’ Hub.

Most work­shops will be held in the Feild­ing Pub­lic Li­brary, but the festival has taken over old Manch­ester House So­cial Ser­vices’ Op­por­tu­nity Shop in Fer­gus­son St as a pop-up space.

This space will hold a sec­ond­hand book sale through­out the du­ra­tion of the festival.

Dore said the event wel­comed writ­ers and read­ers of any abil­ity and the event was free.

‘‘I wanted it to be­come avail­able to ev­ery­one. I ab­so­lutely loathe elitism in the arts. No one should have to pay for cre­ative ex­pres­sion.

‘‘It did come with chal­lenges though. I had to do quite a lot of grov­el­ling to get some of the speak­ers here - a lot of grov­el­ling - I’ve be­come quite good at it.

‘‘The festival of­fers the op­por­tu­nity to get all the peo­ple to­gether. They may be peo­ple who just want some cre­ative in­spi­ra­tion or mind food.’’


Au­thor Vin­cent O’Mal­ley is a guest at the Manawatu Writer’s Festival.

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