November 5, 2020
It’s been a massive weekend for WORD Christchurch and we couldn’t be more pleased (even despite the blisters on our feet!).
The festival hosted nearly 150 speakers across 65 shows during the five-day festival, and it was a joy to see many people supporting and celebrating the immense talent of New Zealand writers, poets, artists, and thinkers. As so many of the WORD Christchurch writers acknowledged in their talks, we have been so fortunate to be able to hold such a festival during this time of a global pandemic.
It was gratifying for all of us at WORD to see so many of the events sold out – including Adventurous Women, WORD Gala: Brave Worlds, Bedtime Stories for Anxious Adults, The Great WORD Debate, Ko Aotearoa Tātou, A Long Time Coming: Ngāi Tahu’s Settlement, and Tusiata Avia’s The Savage Coloniser Book Launch.
Standing ovations were a feature of the festival, with rapturous responses offered to the writers, including Witi Ihimaera and Kingsley Spargo’s moving and intimate event held on Saturday evening. That was just one out of many events that enjoyed such a reception.
We’ve been so pleased to hear from many of you about what you enjoyed at the festival, and in particular the diversity of events; from the Te Papa Ōtākaro poetry walk, the visually stunning Landmarks, the thought-provoking Landscapes of the Mind, and the characterful New Regent Street Pop-Up. We hope you found something in the WORD Christchurch programme that inspired or delighted you.
Two major themes emerged during the festival; the uncertainty surrounding the current pandemic and the comfort, or not, of our homeland, Aotearoa.
In Brave Worlds, speakers Elizabeth Knox, Laura Jean McKay, Behrouz Boochani, Mohamed Hassan, Witi Ihimaera and Becky Manawatu, hosted by John Campbell, shared their thoughts on courage and bravery in an uncertain world.
Audiences also flocked to see Dr Siouxsie Wiles and cartoonist Toby Morris in Going Viral, which outlined the strategy behind the pair’s effective COVID-19 communications.
Guest programmer Ray Shipley’s Bedtime Stories for Anxious Adults and Stand Up Poetry: A Quiz Show also hit the spot and was rewarded with full houses at the new space at Little Andromeda and at Space Academy.
The idea of home was an important thread for the WORD writers, whether it was Tom Scott speaking about local hero, Charles Upham, writers writing letters to Ōtautahi, or finding a safe harbour in the midst of pandemics, mental health crises, or even the aftermath of terror attacks – the festival speakers revealed personal stories that resonated deeply with the audiences.
In any writer’s festival, it is the audience that can really make an event shine. You, the audience, are the special ingredient in our WORD Christchurch Spring Festival and we would love to hear from you about what you enjoyed about this year’s festival.
There are two packs of TEN books from festival authors up for grabs, including Farid Ahmed, Miriam Lancewood, Freya Daly Sadgrove, Jonathan King, Eamonn Marra, Kaiora Tipene and many more.
Please take a few moments to fill in our survey. It will help us understand what we got right, what we could do better, and which writers and events you would like to see in the future. Thank you!
Winners will be drawn on Friday 13 November.