As our program director Loraine Callow admitted, this year’s theme ‘Food for Thought’ is ripe for endless puns and groaners.
And flow they did, like molasses from the honeyed tongues of our eloquent guest speakers (oh OK, groan away!)
The occasion was the program unveiling and launch of our 14th Festival, held in the historic Council Chamber at Williamstown Town Hall on Thursday 4 May.
Like the good sport and great festival friend she is, Mayor Sandra Wilson embraced the topic with gusto.
“There is nothing like the Willy Lit Fest anywhere else in the west,” said the Mayor, who spoke on behalf of the principal sponsor Hobsons Bay City Council; “that’s why we love it and feel fervent anticipation about the feast of literary nourishment that is served up to us each year – but especially this year. At 14 years the festival is well and truly in the midst of its teenage years, and while my teenage sons were last night objecting to tofu in their ‘stir fry, the teenage Willy Lit Fest has laid the table for a sumptuous literary banquet over the weekend of 17 and 18 June with 80 plus authors and over 50 events. No food fussiness about it and your mouths are already watering I know.” Delectable prose Madam Mayor!
Fittingly, this year’s program launcher was award-winning children’s author Claire Saxby. Claire’s writing career has blossomed alongside the WLF. She can trace her involvement from our very early days when she packed out the Council Chamber for the launch of her celebrated book A Nest for Kora. It was the biggest festival crowd that day! Claire has gone on to be the award winning writer of more than forty books. Her writing warms and satisfies like a hearty broth. For the launch, she moved the audience with a reading from her latest, unfinished work about the harrowing voyage of orphan girls from Ireland’s poorhouses shipped Down Under to become servants.
Our annual media launch is as much a salute to our major and loyal sponsors as it is a degustation of the literary delights in store.
With his thought-provoking addresses, distinguished academic and Executive Director of Marketing and External Relations, Dr Rob Brown, who spoke for our other principal sponsor Victoria University, is a festival favourite.
Opening with a Groucho Marx quote, “I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go to another room and read a book,”
Dr Brown said “The west is lucky to have an iconic festival that fosters a love for words and reading. Reading can move, chastise, inflame, relax and challenge us. Above all it makes us think, in a time when it’s never been more important to have people thinking.”
A core mission of his university is to serve the public interest by enriching cultural and community life. As Dr Brown pointed out, VU’s long partnership with Willy Lit Fest is certainly helping to fulfill their charter!
Despite the choice words that flew about the old Chamber like a rich entrée, the appreciative audience was hungry for more.
It was left to our Program Director, Loraine Callow to deliver the final course, punning her way through a ‘tasty program’ replete with culinary delights and offering brain food aplenty.
“I’m Italian,” proclaimed Loraine. “We do like food and we’re known for rambunctious family get togethers where everyone is made welcome and fed well. I’d like this festival to feel like a big, loud and lovely lunch or dinner, from which you’ll emerge happy and satisfied.”
Willy Lit Fest 2017 offers rich pickings indeed: a literary bill of fare overflowing with nourishment for the mind and soul. Medical science, mental health, memoir, music and the multicultural experience are all on the menu. There’ll be rich pickings, fine feasts and plenty of food for thought and we can’t wait to share it with you.
As Loraine said, we hope you’ll come to the table, you’ll indulge and you’ll bring some friends.
“As we say around the family table — Buon appetito!”