The 24th Somerset Celebration of Literature closed its final chapter on Friday night at the Tweed Banora Dental Literary Long Table Dinner in the surreal surrounds of Towers Quad with a full house and recognition of the talented winners of the National Novella and Poetry competitions.
The Novella competition is sponsored by Penguin-Random House and Bond University, and Dr Annette Allen from Tweed Banora Dental is the generous sponsor of the Poetry Competition. Author, columnist and scriptwriter Benjamin Law gave the keynote at the dinner. He spoke eloquently about the essential and inherent diversity of the Australian cultural landscape and the fact that Australia has been, and continues to be, enriched by its immigrants.
The dinner was the culmination of three heady days of conversation, discussion, work-shopping, performance, writing and rejoicing in the power of words to set our minds free. The Festival, a result of a year’s worth of planning and research, got underway on Tuesday 14 March at sessions outside the College and in the evening at the RACV Royal Pines, where the writers’ pre-Festival Dinner was held. The atmosphere at the dinner was one of anticipation as the Festival’s reputation had preceded it. Writers attending for the first time were simply excited to have finally made the Somerset Invitation List; such is the reputation of the Festival across Australia.
Three days of sessions followed on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On the Wednesday evening, the Somerset Alumni Prologue Party was packed out, despite the inclement weather, and the fireworks were a fitting culmination to the first day of the festival.
Thursday saw more sessions and two packed out adult panel sessions; one at Mudgeeraba Markets Shopping Village, “Claiming our Stories” with Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Benjamin Law and Sophie Hardcastle, and “Script to Screen” with Rachel Perkins at The Arts Centre Gold Coast.
The Festival sold over 21,000 tickets and attracted 71 schools from across South East Queensland, Northern New South Wales and the interior of Queensland. This significant event would not be possible without the host of parent volunteers, some of whom give up three days to help, and our wonderful students who manage Sound and Lighting, Protocol, Music and Choirs, Marketing and a number of other aspects of the Festival.
The planning for 2018 is underway and with the Commonwealth Games year ahead of us, the Somerset Celebration of Literature festival promises to be innovative and exciting.
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