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Wrapping in the rain

February 19, 2014
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Mr Gums and I spent last weekend in the lovely historic town of Beechworth staying with two other couples in the gorgeous 1890s Indigo Cottage (owned by one of the couples). Quite coincidentally, we discovered that this weekend was Beechworth’s WRAP Festival. That’s Writers, Readers and Poets, an annual event that has been sponsored by the Beechworth Arts Council since 2011.

Amy Brown

Amy Brown

Of course, some of us wanted to check it out. I didn’t manage to get to sessions with Tony Birch, author of the Miles Franklin short-listed novel Blood. However, Eric, of Canberra Jazz blog, and I did get along to Poetry at the Post Office where, under umbrellas protecting us from the welcome drizzle, we heard several, mostly local poets read from their work.

They were a varied bunch, some more experienced readers than others, but they all gave us something to think about, from Geoff Galbraith’s political pleas to Lisa Ride’s satires on modern living, from Jean Memery’s tribute to janitors to Amy Brown’s moving poem in the voice of the infant saint Rumwold from her epic poem, The odour of sanctity (published by New Zealand’s Victoria University Press). The odour of sanctity sounds intriguing. She explores “six candidates for sainthood” from the 300s to the 1990s. What a fascinating topic! Anyhow, the session was relaxed, nicely em-ceed by Estelle Paterson, and showed what a local Arts Council can do to support and encourage literature in country towns.

Eric, who juggled note-taking in the rain better than I, has written up the event in more detail on his blog – with photos. Do check it out. Thanks Eric for doing the write up and for standing in the rain with me!

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Jim KABLE permalink
    February 19, 2014 11:35 pm

    Such a fabulous little town! The gold. The Chinese presence. Ned KELLY held at the local gaol. Beautiful historic buildings – and the writerly presence of author, reviewer, journalist and poet David MARTIN (Lajos or Ludwig DETSINYI) 1915-1997 – buried in the historic cemetery close to the Chinese section with wife Richenda – a great grand-daughter of Elizabeth FRY. Their home was the now soon to be re-opened guest-house “Finches”! At first WG I thought that was where you had stayed – of course “Indigo” is another place. I remember my first visit there in the winter of 1972 – smitten at once – even if nowhere near as prettified as to-day – across for the week-end from Hay in NSW where I was then teaching. One of the last times I was there while visiting friends in nearby Yackandandah and while photographing where David MARTIN had lived the then occupant (it was a B&B) invited me in. She was a lecturer at the Wodonga Campus of Deakin U (?) – and had published a children’s picture story book tracing the history of the town via its diverse cultural/ethnic richness. I am currently house-sitting in Sydney so can’t check the title/author though maybe easy enough via google.

    • February 20, 2014 1:06 am

      It is a gorgeous town Jim, I agree. I’ve visited there several times over the years, but only got to the cemetery on our last visit in July last year. Lovely cemetery. We went there again this visit as our companions hadn’t been there. It’s a fascinating place, but we didn’t know about David Martin. We did see the grave of Sir Isaac Isaacs baby sister there, and of course veterans of Waterloo and of the American Civil War.

      You taught in Hay? My grandfather was born there. His middle name was Hay!

  2. February 20, 2014 4:16 am

    What a great event. And oh my, that cottage is fantastic!

    • February 20, 2014 7:56 am

      It was a friendly, cheery event, Stefanie … And yes, the cottage, owned by one of the couples, is a real treat.

  3. February 20, 2014 4:26 am

    Did Mr Gums derive the same enjoyment? One hopes so. 🙂 We used to drive through Beechworth on our way to visit Chic’s Mum down in Bateman’s, and often thought it a gorgeous town. Is it?

    • February 20, 2014 7:58 am

      Mr Gums enjoyed the weekend, but only Eric and I braved the drizzle for the reading, MR! And yes, a very special town I think.

  4. February 20, 2014 5:16 am

    Speaking of poets, did you see the link I put on Facebook? x

  5. February 20, 2014 2:31 pm

    I have several friends at Beechworth, but it has been many years since I’ve gone there. Interesting you mention Jean Memery as she is one the friends.

    • February 20, 2014 4:34 pm

      Oh is she, Anne. She was an entertaining reader. One of the more confident. Been a teacher I think?

  6. February 20, 2014 7:37 pm

    Yes, Jean was a teacher until she retired. She spent many years in Darwin, then returned to her home town Beechworth after retirement. My partner B has known her since her teens, and has kept in touch with her over many years.

    • February 20, 2014 7:43 pm

      Ah that’s right. The intro mentioned Darwin and returning to the area. One of her poems was an entertaining one about janitors. She seemed like a lively person.

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