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