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25 August 2008

My City of Literature

Last week, Melbourne became a UNESCO International City of Literature.

It's been a long time coming - Melbourne has always been a very literary place. I'm writing this post in a pretty literary building - the State Library of Victoria. Marcus Clarke used to work here, as well as a host of other awesomely literary luminaries. The Library will also be home, next year, to the Centre for Books and Ideas, being the Melbourne Writers Festival, the Victorian Writers Centre, the National Poetry Centre, the Emerging Writers Festival and Express Media.

I love Melbourne. I love its cafes and bookshops and bars and libraries and laneways and did I mention bars? And I love the way, in the middle of winter, hoardes of Melburnians brave the cold and the rain and line up for hours to see some obscure German film at the Film Festival, or see a motley bunch of writers talk about themselves at the Writers Festival.

I love this. I love the way Melburnians get out there. I love the way we think about things and talk about ideas and sure, a lot of us are total wankers, but I kind of love that too (from a distance).

I've been involved in the Writers Festival for the past three years, but this is the first time I've really felt like I belonged. It's like I've hit critical mass - last year I had one non-fiction book out, and a forthcoming novel - now I have two novels and anthology with my name on the cover. I can say I'm an author and not feel like I need to justify it. I know people, this time. YA people, publishing people, Express Media people, and many others.

It's my town. My City of Literature. And at the risk of sounding like a greeting card - it's yours too.


LiteraryMinded said...

Great post Lili! I share your enthusiasm :-D

estelle said...

i feel just the same - wandering around fed square between sessions i got a bit chest-swelly and all that. and although there have been a few, i'd like to see more young people attending the festival because the inspiration and the belonging of the festival make for some good feelings.

lili said...

Hi estelle!

I agree, but I reckon it's because there's still this huge chasm between the school's day and the general program. How many authors for young people are found outside the school's program? Not many. I can't help feel that teens aren't loving the festival as hard as they could be, because the message is still being sent that their books aren't as "important" as all the others.

Jam Tart said...

Hi lili!!
I know what you mean about "belonging". I don't even have any books published (yet!), but the atmosphere at the MWF is so awsomely bookish and welcoming. I don't know whether it's the wonderful authors or the setting (or both), but it's great. i don't want it to finish and I don't want to go back to school. The end of August is ALWAYS my favourite time of year!
And you're so right! they should put some YA authors in the general program or run sessions aimed at YA and adult. kid's authors are so much more fun!
By the way...
LOVE your new book! It's fantastic!!

Grace said...

I'm so glad you feel like you belong at the writers fest, because I was there and I felt like you belonged. I was at the DIY Blog one yesterday and I really enjoyed what you said, which explains why i went and looked at your blog.
I also brought your book yesterday scatterheart, and i read it all and i finsihed it and it was amazing, i luved it.

lili said...

Hi Grace,

Thanks for the lovely words, and welcome!