Surf’s up – Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival

I do my absolute level best to avoid paying attention to the sports coverage during the morning news. Don’t think that I am not interested in sport – to the contrary, there are a great number of sports that I am quite interested in, both in terms of their skill and in their entertainment. I can neither confirm or deny that I recently went and watched sport live. At a stadium.

It’s just that the quality of Australian sports coverage seems to be so manifestly sexist, that to participate too much would simply encourage them. So when I read today that American surfer, Courtney Conologue, in solid waves at Margaret River’s main break, had upstaged world number one Carissa Moore to win the Margaret River Pro World Surf League event, I was doubly happy.

Firstly, it was a thrill to see world class female athletes receiving media attention, particularly as I extra love watching sports coverage of the ocean. Should any mainstream new services be scanning the terribly important internet territory of my blog, please note that I keenly attend to representations of women in the public sphere. I am encouraged by seeing women take place in sport in ways that do not place excessive value their aesthetic attractiveness, and instead make challenges to the way that gender is represented and enacted in our culture. Do you hear this, Internet Gods? I will allow you to spam me with advertising for gambling, and alcohol, if you will only allow me to see representations of women that demonstrate their skill, physical ability, and sportspersonship. #rantover

Secondly, the words “Margaret River” reminded me that, at this time last year, I was actually in Margaret River for the Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival. Please see above image for the reasons why, at this time last year, I also was contemplating moving there. The festival, while small in some regards relative to the majors, is a very thoughtful and well curated event, that harnesses some of the most warming and thoughtful elements, to me at least, of literary culture.

You can find out more about them via Facebook, their website, or look at the whole program. If you are located in the WA area, I would really encourage you to go check it out, for the following listicle type reasons.

  1. The writers. Whether you’re interested in icons like John Marsden and Isobelle Carmody; whipcrack smarts like Michelle de Kretser; gigglers like Justin Heazlewood aka the Bedroom Philosopher and Pakistani stand up, Sami Shah; poet,Nandi Chinna; or my personal #brainthrob, Dr Susan Hawthorne, author of six collections of poetry, two chapbooks and a verse novel (as well as a novel and three works of non-fiction), there will be something for you. The program is a good size – you can jam pack, but you can also breathe.
  2. The atmosphere, the vibe, the constitution. The festival is incredibly warm and community run, most people are very welcoming and open to engaged dialogue around the writers and the topics at hand. This is not always the case at major festivals, with the sheer volume of people makes it impossible to have any kind of meaningful post event conversation. Last year, there was also a very adorable street market going on during one of the days, and I had a lot very high-quality doughnuts and croissants, which I would highly recommend.
  3. Margaret Freaking River. The surrounding area is absolutely stunning and you can intersperse opening your mind to stories with checking out excellent wineries and beautiful beaches and caves, unlike in Brisbane, when you go to the writers festival, you find yourself staring at the beautiful M3. Did I mention the beaches? The caves? The sensation of Sunrise On Your Back?

The festival runs from May 29-31, which is more than enough time to check if there’s some cheeeep flights/frequent flyer points balance. And I would totally go back if I could. But I can’t. Because #timespacecontinuum.

By Eleanor Jackson

Eleanor Jackson is a Filipino Australian poet, performer, arts producer, cyclist, writer, gal about town, feminist, freewheeler, and friend.

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