The Somerset Celebration of Literature closed 25 chapters of Reading and Writing last Friday with the inspirational Literary Dinner, where Vivi Baker unleashed the brilliance of her unique brand of poetry to a receptive audience. At the dinner, the winners of the National Novella and Poetry Competitions were presented; with Vivi from Somerset College winning the Senior National Poetry Prize for her poem on Love, Connections, Family and Genetics.
Following presentations, Richard Fidler and Kari Gislason entertained the dinner audience with their own intellectual and witty repartee about Iceland, the Viking Sagas, the curious and solitary nature of male friendship and Kari’s own search for family and identity.
The dinner also showcased the new direction and name of the festival in 2019, (Somerset Storyfest), with its emphasis on reaching out to the Gold Coast community and being inclusive and innovative. Yes, the festival will live on, with a new name, and a breath of ‘new’ life! Some things will change, but many much loved aspects of the festival will remain the same; with the most important ones, the venue and the ownership, being Somerset.
Through the days leading up to the 2018 festival and during the three days of the celebration of reading, writing, creating and simply being reflective, all that was inspirational about this singular event was on show.
Over 70 schools attended (21,000 tickets sold), children were bussed in from remote schools, authors spoke, entertained, sketched, sang, and wrote beautiful message in the covers of their books that they sold to excited children; many who were in the process of being ‘turned on’ to books. What a worthy goal!
The Prologue Party on the Wednesday night was relaxed, convivial and feisty with the enthralling fireworks closing the evening. Thursday lunchtime saw Clementine Ford elevate the consciousness of the 100 plus women (and a few hardy men), on the issue of genuine gender equality, by posing difficult questions for the audience to contemplate. The very idea of this lunch with this relevant and topical issue being so openly discussed, is testament to the power and maturity of the Somerset festival and community. The festival’s goals are very much aligned with the strategic goals of the College, where we encourage the asking of difficult questions and moving into the zone of disruptive and critical thinking and – hopefully – constructive problem solving. On Thursday night, the ‘Kids Dinner’ with its eight authors and passionate students, under the stars in the Towers Quad, gave birth to eight zany and creative mini drama performances, which entertained other students and parents alike. And that brought us to the Literary Dinner!
The 2018, 25th Celebration was a success in so many ways but through all the humidity, noise, fun, food, fireworks, heated debate, books, speeches, workshops and so many other notable aspects of the festival, the primary focus has and will, always be, creating a love of reading and writing in students and adults; leading to a better, more literate and more functional society.
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