After the early session, I caught a few minutes of the Creative Writing: Art, Craft or Science? panel. It came as absolutely no surprise to learn that some people prefer to plan their plot and have a rough idea where they want the story to go, and others prefer to just type away and go back later to tidy things up. We’ve talked about it here on this blog before; it’s an unresolvable issue that’s down to personal preference.
Then I headed over to the Talking the Talk: Getting Dialogue Right panel, only to find them wrapping things up. (I caught a snippet about using dialogue to frame exposition – having someone ask a question that exposes some key aspect of the plot, or having a professor character who goes off on expository tangents. I’d assume this only works if you’re clever, and could end up just as clumsy as most other types of exposition.)
And I’m afraid we blew off most of the rest of the afternoon to go have fish and chips on the beach!
Later that evening, we headed into town for the Poetry Evening and announcement of the Byron Bay Writers Festival Poetry Competition. The evening started with readings from Yvette Holt, Martin Harrison and Cyril Wong (Cyril’s pieces were beautiful, and his reading earlier that day was popular, too). The three competition finalists – Max Ryan, Nathan Shepherdson and Jane Williams – read their entries, and there was an interval while the judges went off to deliberate.
After an extensive performance by a singer-songwriter who wasn’t even in the program (I think he was a friend of the organisers or something, and personally, I didn’t really appreciate his style), Cate Kennedy read some poetry she’s been working on, as well as a fantastic poem about Dostoevsky called St Petersburg (unfortunately, I can’t remember who the author was, but I’m trying to track it down). Jane Williams was awarded first prize in the Poetry Competition, and hip hop poet Morganics finished off the evening with an explosive performance that woke us up again before they sent us back out into the cold.
Now, I’m the first to admit that poetry isn’t really my thing, but the advantage of an event like this is that you get to hear the stuff spoken out loud, by the poets themselves, which is really the way it’s meant to be done. Words that seemed static on the page become much more intense, much more moving, with the reactions of the rest of the audience around you.