Weston LitFest… update!

I have been so fortunate to be involved in Weston-super-Mare’s first Literary Festival. It’s been amazing! So far I’ve attended the launch, a very interesting, useful and nice networking session with other people involved, run two workshops (one on writing and one on blogging) attended a brilliant talk by Damien Boyd, and I’m also looking forward to a quiz tomorrow night!

As usual with such things there was a survey about it – and I filled it in with great enthusiasm, and great praise for the organisers and the people who had worked so hard to get it off the ground and make it such a success.

One thing I particularly liked was the atmosphere of everything I’ve been to; there was this lovely open, laid back, welcoming feel, and yet there was also an energy and excitement and enthusiasm. Maybe it was just me, but I don’t think so, looking at all the rapt, engaged and friendly faces all around me. Well done to all the organisers and the behind-the-scenes people involved!

The survey asked if I had any ideas for future events, and I looked back and found a list I had made when the festival was first mooted… I couldn’t share all my thoughts in the little green box but I thought I might share them here:

Weston Litfest Ideas:

  • List of reading and writing groups in the area (include local towns such as Clevedon, Portishead, Burnham etc, but not Bristol, it has plenty of its own resources!
  • Lists of books read by local reading groups
  • Library/local bookshops – top ten books at the time, and maybe other things like all time top ten etc

Activities by writing groups in and around the town:

  • Write-ins at cafés and pubs
  • Public writing – people with clipboards pens and paper standing writing in public, if its nice standing/sitting outside
  • Performance writing – small groups stand in public places as above and read their stories or excerpts etc to each other – in the hope other people might stop and listen
  • Open writing groups/workshops at locations eg various church halls
  • Local authors have readings – maybe on their own with a talk, or maybe several taking it in turns to read extracts from their work – a sort of reading relay
  • 5 minute writing workshops – table, two chairs, writers get visitors to write something
  • Pop-up poetry, or poetry readings in cafés etc (like you might have a musical person playing something – instead have a poet reading something)
  • Pay per poem – poets write poems to order, ‘payment’ to local charity
  • Manageable competitions – ’50 word stories’ haikus, limericks, back of a postcard writing – if these comps are open in the month of November, they could be read, judged and winners found by the litfest – there could be an event where the short-listed entries are read and the winners announced – prizes could be donated books/a fancy certificate/an entry in Weston litfests’ hall of fame etc
  • Writing groups to publicise and hold open meetings for new members (to be organized by the groups)
  • Fancy dress events or competitions (particularly in schools and to be organised by them)
  • Would the pier host a small event?
  • Involvement by schools, college etc
  • Involvement by other groups, eg U3A, Women’s Institute, Rotary, etc
  • outreach into residential/care homes by writers and poets – workshops or readings

Activities by reading groups –

  • Reading groups having open meetings (dependent on venues)
  • Reading work by famous local writers
    • Arthur C Clarke – Minehead, Bishop’s Lydiard, Taunton
    • Daniel Defoe – Battle of Sedgemoor, Westonzoyland
    • Elizabeth Goudge – Wells
    • Evelyn Waugh/Auberon Waugh – Combe Florey
    • Fay Weldon – Pilton
    • Henry Fielding – Walton
    • R.R. Tolkien – Clevedon, Cheddar
    • Jane Austen – Bath
    • John Steinbeck – Redlynch Bruton
    • Michael Holroyd and Margaret Drabble – Somerset.
    • Penelope Lively – Roadwater
    • RD Blackmore – Porlock.
    • Robert Southey – Porlock, Minehead, Dnster
    • Samuel Taylor Coleridge – Nether Stowey
    • Terry Pratchett – Bridgwater, Rowberrow, Wincanton
    • Thomas Hardy – Yeovil
    • TS Elliot – East Coker
    • William Makepeace Thackeray -, Clevedon Court,
    • William Wordsworth – Holford


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