Excursion to the Melbourne Writers Festival

by Della Gondwana & Oscar Nelsson-Smith

The Melbourne Writers Festival offered sessions for students this year, which is a great innovation, so Janet took Year 11 English to an ‘In-queery’, to hear Alice Pung, the local author of one of their studied novels, ‘Unpolished Gem’ in a discussion about ‘Identity’, from both a racial and gendered perspective. 

Janet also accompanied the Year 9s to a ‘Shakespeare Rap’ session, which stimulated a lot of discussion about interpretation, rhythms and the precious nature of the Bard’s words, since they had studied ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in Term 3. Although everyone agreed that the actual session was rather disappointing, the discussions that ensued were very thought provoking and made the experience worthwhile. (Well, some people are yet to recover from the exertion of cringing so hard, but no one’s in the hospital). We evaluated the merits and downfalls of modern Shakespeare translations, and debated the appropriateness of the presenter’s motivations and content. We also took away valuable lessons on gauging an audience’s interest, patronization of people who are learning, and most important of all – how to get good snacks at Flinders St.

Janet and the Juniors (sounds like a band) went to ‘How to be Hilarious’ for a session with Danny Katz, curated by Alicia Sometimes. This started a lot of talk about different types of humour and how to be funny. Danny Katz is an Australian comedic author, so we made our own Australian themed, “funny” stories.  Janet & Alicia caught up for a chat at Flinders Street station when we were snacking before heading back to school which added to our sense of celebrity.