Held in the hallowed halls of University of Western Australia, a mingling of writers, readers and performance artists. I was at once uplifted, amused, humbled, inspired and galvanised into action.

Impressive readings, chats and discussions from the enigmatic British philosopher A C Grayling,  to the pop-culture eccentric and funny Tom Cho,  and newcomers Eleanor Catton and Goldie Goldbloom. Great Australian authors such as Andrea Goldsmith, Robert Gray and Alex Miller talked about various aspects of the art of writing while award-winning American naturalists, William Fox and Barry Lopez considered the influence of extreme environments on the imagination. Finally, attended an enlightening workshop, “Pop Culture Memoirs”, with Empire’s reviews editor, Michael Adams who’s latest book is called,  “Showgirls, Teen Wolves and Astro Zombies – My year-long quest to find and watch the worst movie ever made.”

So many authors, so much to do, perched up there on two extremely hot summer’s days on top of that Perth hill in leafy grounds near King’s Park with a mesmeric view down over the Swan River. (Lucky students, I say).

Collection of quotes from the various sessions: –

“I like to go to extreme environments because there aren’t that many trees.” William Fox

“Get lost in a landscape that looks roughly the same in all directions where we don’t know what to expect. It helps you put a picture together of where you live and who you are.” William Fox

“Seek intimacy, break down the wall that renders us cynical, unemotional and detached – become vulnerable and trust – call out to the land and be patient.” ….” Develop an I-Though, not an I-It relationship with the landscape that includes integrity and dignity.” Roughly quoted from Barry Lopez in the session, “Into the Wild.”

“Wherever you go, pay attention. Avoid the compulsion to impose a template,” Barry Lopez.

“Take what you’re given, make the most of it, then give it away.” Barry Lopez talking about talent and artistic contribution.

Read some of  Barry Lopez’s fab essays at www.barrylopez.com

“It’ll be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, it’s not the end.” Marina Endicott in the session “Art of breathing life into a character,” when she was asked if authors know when a book is finished.

“Writing … it’s all about emotion and taking sensory photographs.” Goldie Goldbloom

“Once I’ve understood something, I’m already beyond it.” Robert Gray in “Breaking the Rules” session, when asked whether autobiography is like therapy, and whether by doing research and writing a book you can bring closure to a problem.

Question: “It seems like your quite normal. Are you?” Robert Gray: “Well I feel ok now, but the final report isn’t in yet.”

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  1. I was at the “Into the Wild” session too. Looks like you loved it as much as I did!
    I especially liked what Barry Lopez said about really listening to nature rather than trying to quickly interpret it. Plus, it was wonderful to see how humble he was and truly grateful to have such a charmed profession.

  2. I agree. He was so humble, but also wise. And they (William and Barry) were such a great foil for one another. Was probably my favourite session, and I nearly didn’t attend it. I’m going to look out for the podcasts for some of the sessions I missed. It was incredibly hot, wasn’t it? Keep up the good work on your blog. Love what you have to say. I’ll try and promote it where I can.

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