Ruapehu Writers Festival: A mountain of a festival

By Dionne Christian

From left, Elizabeth Knox, Nicky Pellegrino, Harry Ricketts and Stacy GreGG are among the line-up of writers attending the inaugural Ruapehu Writers Festival. Pictures / Dean Purcell, NZME
From left, Elizabeth Knox, Nicky Pellegrino, Harry Ricketts and Stacy GreGG are among the line-up of writers attending the inaugural Ruapehu Writers Festival. Pictures / Dean Purcell, NZME

Some of the country's best-known authors, poets and book editors will converge on Ohakune from March 17-20 for the first Ruapehu Writers Festival.

Billed as a long weekend of readings, talks, and panel discussions, the festival also offers a fiction-writing workshop, a poetry slam and some more unusual events such as a literary waterfall walk, a bike ride and a pony trek.

Emily Perkins, Fiona Kidman, Fiona Farrell, James Brown, Bianca Zander, Nick Ascroft, Harry Ricketts and Nicky Pellegrino are among the authors who will discuss and read their work and talk about their influences and aspects of their work. Elizabeth Knox will give the Festival Lecture while Sue Orr takes a workshop in writing fiction. Stacy Gregg will talk about the importance of setting (as part of a literary discussion with Orr and Bianca Zander) and will also lead the pony trek for younger fans of her best-selling pony stories.

Students from Ruapehu College and Taumarunui High School will be involved and many local authors are included in the programme.

Victoria University's Associate Professor, and 2016 Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellow, Dr Anna Jackson of the School of English, Film, Theatre and Media Studies, is organising the festival alongside her husband and Tuatua Cafe owner Simon Edmonds, and poet and publisher Helen Rickerby.

Jackson says she has delayed going to Menton to attend the festival, at the Powderhorn Chateau, because it's so important to her.

"It is going to be a very friendly, intimate sort of festival, where readers will really get to talk to writers over lunch and morning and afternoon tea, and on the walks and around the edges of the festival."

She expects readers and writers involved to come out of sessions still talking about some of the ideas and books discussed. She says the Editors Talk (with Fergus Barrowman, Harriet Allen, Anna Hodge and Helen Rickerby) will be illuminating for aspiring writers but also for readers interested in how the books published get chosen. "The Ruapehu region is particularly beautiful in the summer and we hope that readers will come from around New Zealand and give themselves a long weekend - a literary holiday - with a difference."

The organisers admit because so many writers asked to be included - and because they themselves are so enthusiastic about the writers taking part - they couldn't say no which means it's a very full programme.

The festival is being run on a not-for-profit basis, supplemented by a Boosted crowd-funding campaign.

Tickets and full programme: ruapehuwritersfestival.nz/programme
More details: boosted.org.nz/projects/ruapehu-writers-festival.

- Canvas

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