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Festivals and the love of books

Nicky Pellegrino and Jenni Ogden in conversation at the Waiheke Literary Festival, November, 2015.


Writers and Readers festivals are pure bliss for those of us who love books. I have been to many throughout the world; in fact if we are traveling anywhere I check out book festivals (and music and wine and food festivals) in case by tweaking our dates we can go to more. I think it is the buzz of being in the midst of so many others who love the same things as you do. But NZ hosts festivals every bit as wonderful as overseas festivals. I particularly love the Auckland Writers Festival, which is massive but incredibly well-organised and very friendly. World-class writers (including world class NZ and Australian writers) are guest speakers, and this year they sold over 63,000 tickets to events. WOMAD NZ in the beautiful New Plymouth is a wonderful weekend of music from many countries in a fabulous atmosphere and held in an incredible venue. If it rains, and gumboots (wellingtons) are helpful, who cares? (A few years ago we were at the Hay-On-Wye Book Festival which is held in tents, with gumboots practically a fashion item. When we were there it poured the entire time and the field of tents was flooded. Avoiding getting poked in the eye by an umbrella was the greatest challenge.)

The big festivals are something special but most festivals are small, and these are a treat to go to as well. Two weekends ago I was a guest at the Waiheke Literary Festival (Words on a Small Island) and had the good fortune to be interviewed by journalist Nicky Pellegrino (Listener/NZ Herald) and novelist (Latest "One Summer in Venice", a delicious read); photo above. Everyone enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere of Waiheke (just a 30 minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland) and we enjoyed a spectacular long lunch on Sunday, complete with great speakers, at Cable Bay Vineyard.

It is surprising what one comes across by accident on the internet, and a few days ago up popped a Youtube video, 29 minutes long, of a talk I gave in Oct 2015 at the 'Mind & Its Potential' conference in Sydney. This is an amazing conference, with speakers from all over the world (the Dalai Lama has spoken at this or its sister festival in Sydney five times), and the speakers are carefully selected for their ability to engage an audience. No notes allowed! My talk was entitled "Trouble In Mind" as it was about the patients from my book of that name; I talked about my experiences with HM, and with Janet, an amazing woman with hemineglect. Here is the Youtube url if you are interested. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKJYAwdQ3tQ)
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