Big issues and the power of ideas

Record numbers of Western Australians attended the Perth Writers Festival over four days. I agree with Program Manager, Katherine Dorrington, that the focus on ideas and issues helped bring a more diverse audience to the festival this year. I believe people are hungry for intelligent conversation and different ideas. Even if you didn’t agree with everything that was said, there was a lot to reflect on.

Of course, as a writer, I was inspired by some of the visiting fiction and non-fiction authors. How can anyone not marvel at the beauty of Gail Jones’ language, the breadth of Simon Winchester’s knowledge, the joyfulness of Katherine Rundell’s books for children, the compassion of Patrick Gale’s writing or the powerful storytelling of Etgar Kerat?

But I was especially energised by the debate and discussions about our society and who we are today. Thinkers and writers like George Megalogenis, Don Watson, Jane Caro, Stan Grant and Laura Tingle made me think and ask myself different questions. The sorts of conversations I heard at the festival seem sadly lacking in the general media and among our politicians.

In a society fixated on fast-paced environments, the ten second news grab, the ping of the mobile phone with another message and a “go, go, go” mentality, it’s difficult to find the time to sit down and reflect. But I plan to do this and think more about what I heard and the books I am reading.

As American President John F Kennedy said: “Too often we… enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”

I am a big believer of moving outside my comfort zone to develop informed opinions – so well done Perth Writers Festival. Challenging, inspiring AND entertaining!

There are more photos on the Gallery page.

Rose, Liz Byrski, Melinda Tognini

Signing books with Liz Byrski and Melinda Tognini after our ‘Shared Narratives’ panel