Image: William Yeoman and Perth writer Natasha Lester
As I write these words on an uncharacteristically crisp February morning, having carefully coaxed Salty the cat off my lap and replaced him with a laptop, I am distracted by the hum of freeway traffic beneath the sharp cry of the crows outside the bedroom window. It’s a gently disruptive start to the day.
You could say the same about Perth Festival Writers Week’s Out and About program, which for the last two evenings gently disrupted the normal unfurling of a new week with poetry, perambulations and conversations – all free – in a small bar in Fremantle, a writers’ centre in Northbridge, a library in the Perth CBD, through the streets of the city’s East End and down to the Swan River foreshore.
On Monday night, an intimate gathering at Northbridge’s Centre For Stories feasted on the musical utterances of poets Charlotte Guest, Shevaun Cooley and Robert Wood, while over at the City of Perth Library a capacity audience hung off every word uttered by Alzheimer’s researcher Professor Ralph Martins, co-author with celebrity cook Maggie Beer of Recipe for Life. Across town, Perth thriller writer Sara Foster and fellow author Susan Midalia entertained punters at Fremantle small bar Strange Company with intelligent, witty conversation and readings.
On Tuesday night, Centre for Stories hosted Fervent Flavours, with chef Paul ‘Yoda’ Iskov telling his culinary story in food and words via tasting platters and an engaging conversation with the CFS director Caroline Wood. At almost the same time, a crowd gathered outside the City of Perth Library where they were offered the choice of two architectural walks, one with architect Paul Griffiths exploring Perth’s historic East End, the other with landscape architect Julian Bolleter down to the river and Elizabeth Quay. At Strange Company, I caught up with historical fiction writer Natasha Lester for a fun conversation around travel, family, fashion and her latest novel, The Paris Seamstress.
Judging by the feedback received from colleagues and audiences, a good time was had by all. For my part, it felt like a gentle disruption heralding a slow crescendo that will peak in a riotous weekend of storytelling, conversations, panel discussions, film screenings, musical performances and fun family activities at the University of Western Australia. I hope to see you there. In the meantime, I’d better close this laptop so Salty the cat can resume his morning nap in his favourite place.