After four days of literary jauntiness and speed intellectualism, I’m beginning to feel a bit like Richie Watts after attending the Comedy Festival – blown-out, exhausted and thrilled by the sheer number of genii (or should that be geniuses – whatevs) presently living, breathing and creating stuff for people like you and me to enjoy. Yep, you got it – the Emerging Writers Festival (and its sister-event, the Independent Press Conference) proved for me that Ozlit, in its many and varied forms, is alive and kicking against the pricks, no matter what the doomsayers want you to think.
I’m not just talking about the events or persons I actually saw perform at said festival, but also the genii just hanging around taking it all in. I’m talking about Paul Mitchell, whose short story collection Dodging the Bull was launched at the Festival on Sunday; Michael Nolan, who pulled off the biggest stunt of the new millennium by hosting a Geoffrey Roberston-style hypothetical session and leaving his audience stunned and rolling in the aisles; and Steve Grimwade, who directed the festival for a second time and managed to build even further upon last year’s success
Sean M Whelan over the course of the weekend seemed to morph into a paparazzi photographer, which only adds to his ultimate bulk-aceness; independent publishers and zinesters like Lisa Dempster, Kate Bezar, Tiggy Johnson and so many more are all proving just how much is possible with equal doses of guts and imagination; while experimental practitioners including Michael Farrell, Klare Lanson, James Stuart and Antoni Jach (my panel participants) go out on limbs like kookaburras in search of tasty morsels.
And, and, and – all of the other crazy people I met or glanced or nodded at or passed by or didn’t get to talk to over the weekend – Ryan Paine, Kelly-lee Hickey, Andy Jackson, Eddy Burger, Lisa Greenaway, alicia ‘bulk ace’ sometimes, Emilie Zoey Baker (bring back the blonde wig), George Dunford, Barry Scott, Susan Hawthorne and anyone else Mark Davis didn’t mention in his speech on Saturday morning.
I’m even considering writing an expose of the poetry publishing industry in Australia, just so I can write all of these peoples’ names over and over again. And the title? You guessed it: Stanzaland. Untold, bulk ace and freelanced like a genie without a bottle to crawl back into. Oh, master!