A Literary Bonanza
I’ve had a fit of writing gloom recently, so it was nice last weekend to have an abundance of literary stuff to enjoy.
Friday evening kicked off with the launch of the fourth Worcestershire LitFest. It took place in the grand surroundings of the assembly rooms at the Guild Hall in Worcester, where paintings of monarchs and dignitaries looked down on the proceedings. These included George III, who apparently visited the assembly rooms on one occasion. When I arrived an MP’s surgery was taking place downstairs, and I was very glad to be attending the literary event above instead!
It began with the announcement of the winners of the Young Writers’ Competition. It was wonderful to see these young people (very young in some cases) read their stories with such confidence, and the stories were great too. No shortage of literary talent there!
Then it was my turn to announce the three winners of the 2014 Flash Fiction competition. This is always an exciting moment when the winners, from a total number of entries of 150 this year, are announced. As it’s an international competition, with entries from as far-flung as South Africa and Switzerland, only one of our three winners was actually there. Dunstan Power – who lives in Worcestershire – came second, with a poignant story set in the time of World War 1 and called The Flower Bed.
Next was the announcement of the new Worcestershire Poet Laureate for 2014-15. The six finalists had to read one of their poems stimulated by the festival’s theme Prelude to War, and one of their own. I thought they were all very good, and it would have been hard to choose, but the judges – after a tense wait – selected Fergus McGonigal, whose talent is only outshone by his vivid pink hair!
It was a small group – but very enthusiastic! They worked hard and produced some lovely writing. The six hours passed in a flash!
I dashed back from Malvern to the library in Evesham for the finale of the first ever AsparaWriting Festival. It’s been three months of creative writing workshops, talks from writers and a short story competition. (I was disappointed when Stella Duffy, a writer whose work I admire, had to cancel her workshop, but it’s likely that it will still go ahead later in the year.)
I was keen to attend the finale as the winner of the story competition was due to be announced and I knew one of my ex-students was on the shortlist of ten. When I arrived, I was delighted to find three more of my ex-students had also made the shortlist. None of them won, but it was lovely to see them all go up to be presented with their certificates and anthologies by the crime writer Simon Brett.Tags: Asparawriting Festival, Worcs Litfest