It's out. The programme for Ōtautahi's own literary festival, WORD Christchurch. And oh, it is chock full of goodies for anyone wanting to open their brains and fill them with bright, shiny ideas for a few days (25-28 August).
It also takes place in a bright, shiny new building namely in musical sounding The Piano Centre for Music and The Arts on Armagh St, just west of New Regent Street.
The festival programme is a refreshingly broad one that takes in the full scope of that which might fall under the umbrella of "literature". There's bound to be something on the schedule to tempt. Here's my very cut-down wishlist (the full un-expurgated version is exhaustive and exhausting).
Picks of WORD Christchurch 2016
C1 Book Launch: Let's take a walk (Wednesday 24 August 6pm) C1 Espresso is one of my favourite post-quake places in town and owners Sam and Fleur Crofskey have been positively flabbergasting in their ability to imagine and innovate anything from a front counter clad in Lego to curly fries whizzing past diners in Lanson tubes. So why wouldn't they also be publishing a book about the aftermath of the quakes? This session is a) free and b) in close proximity to aforementioned curly fries.
How are we doing, Christchurch? (Friday 26 August 11.15am – 12.15pm) If there's one thing that Christchurch people have grown a taste for it's talking about ourselves and our post-quake lives. This session will have Sam Crofskey of C1, Robyn Wallace of He Oranga Pounamu, Katie Pickles author of Christchurch Ruptures, Ciaran Fox of All Right? and Bronwyn Hayward. It's another free event and I'm thinking it'll make for a good chat to listen in on.
Reading favourites (Friday 26 August 2.15 – 3.15pm) Everybody's got reading favourites and so do writers. Will Chris Tse, David Hill and Jolisa Gracewood treasure the same Kiwi literature that I do? Only one way to find out. Yet another free event, chaired by novelist and Academy of New Zealand Literature setter-upper Paula Morris.
No sex please, we're teenagers (Friday 26 August 5.15 – 6.15pm) Anyone who was fascinated by the "yes it's censored-no it's not-yes it is" controversy surrounding Ted Dawe's YA novel Into the River will want to pull up a pew at this one. Also discussing the vagaries of writing sex for teenage readers are international bestseller David Levithan, and sexual therapist Frances Young. Chaired by YA author Mandy Hager.
The Stars are on Fire (Friday 26 August 7.30 – 8.45pm) Seven writers take turns telling tales of burning passions in the Isaac Theatre Royal. Also John Campbell is there, probably being effusive. That'll do me.
Read it again! Picture book readings (Saturday 27 August
1 – 1.30pm) As the parent of a toddler I'm always keen to have someone else take a turn with the picture book reading, or to find new books that spark young imaginations. Another free event with readings from Kiwi authors David Hill, and Mary Cowen and Lynne McAra.
Busted: Feminism and Pop Culture (Saturday 27 August 11am – 12pm) Things I'm into - feminism, pop culture. This really is a no-brainer for me as co-founder and editor of Bust magazine, Debbie Stoller talks all things lady with Charlotte Graham.
Cities of Tomorrow: A better life? (Saturday 27 August 5 – 6.15pm) City-building is never far from my mind these days and it's not even my area of expertise but it is for Barnaby Bennett, Marie-Anne Gobert, Mark Todd and Cécile Maisonneuve. Kim Hill will be leading the discussion.
The Spinoff After Dark (Saturday 27 August 10 – 11pm) Modern media website, The Spinoff has become my go-to for news, opinion, and entertainment in the last year or so. I expect a rollicking good time at C1 with The Spinoff crew of Duncan Greive, Alex Casey, Toby Manhire and a nominally in charge Steve Braunias. Also, is the name of this session a "Peach Pit After Dark, Beverley Hills 90210" allusion? I like to imagine so...
The State of America (Sunday 28 August 12.30pm – 1.30pm) I went to a similar, identically titled in fact, session at the Auckland Writers Festival. How will this one compare? I'm looking forward to finding out. With three Americans historian Peter S. Field, political scientist Amy Fletcher, and TV writer and novelist Steve Hely there should be a good mix of perspective with journalist Paula Penfold probing for answers on the confusing world of US politics.
Ask a mortician: Caitlin Doughty (Sunday 28 August
2 – 3pm) You had me at the words "funny" and "mortician". Caitlin Doughty, presenter of Ask a Mortician web series and author of Smoke gets in your eyes and other lessons from the crematory will be part of a morbid discussion with... the Christchurch coroner, Marcus Elliot. Priceless (but not actually, tickets $17 or $19).
The Nerd Degree (Sunday 28 August 5 – 6pm) It's a podcast. It's a nerdy pop culture quiz game. It's humorous and improvised and I do love it and it's part of the festival. Nerds battle nerds, in this case Brendon Bennetts, ITV science correspondent Alok Jha, YA author Karen Healey, cult film director Andrew Todd and mortician Caitlin Doughty.
There's actually a heap more things but I'll probably be lucky to manage these. What are your picks for the festival?