GUEST WRITER CLAIRE MABEY looks ahead to this year's LitCrawl in Wellington

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Rain, from Small Holes in the Silence
GUEST WRITER CLAIRE MABEY looks ahead to this year's LitCrawl in Wellington

Wellington’s LitCrawl is controlled chaos. Over 80 writers, musicians, actors, scientists, journalists and artists will populate 15 venues over 3 hours for 15 unique literary-related sessions on Saturday 14 November.

The point is to inject Wellington with the energy of audiences and writers colliding in a fast-paced format that celebrates writing when it’s off the page and coming from the writers themselves.

Pirate & Queen (Claire Mabey and Andrew Laking) started the event in 2014 with an instinct that the event might go down well.

It did.

Their inaugural programme was swamped on the night with most venues packed to capacity.

The driving ethos for LitCrawl is the celebration of independent publishing and creating a sense of community through collaboration. LitCrawl is the sum of many parts -- venues, publishers, writers, curators and the audience -- coming together for the love of sharing the ideas and images generated through the creative act of putting words into order.

LitCrawl 2015 is, for Pirate & Queen, a consolidation of the format and the development of their programming. They’ve created another diverse weekend with other events hanging off the central LitCrawl itself.

Events this year include Toby Manhire’s famous Point Chevalier pub inquisition; Thoughts on anarchy and a search for a Patron Saint by Lawrence & Gibson; and a session on the ecosystem of science writing and poetry featuring Rebecca Priestley, Bryan Walpert, Airini Beautrais and kani te manukura;

There are RAD talks by Barbarian Productions hosted by James Nokise; Makaro Press’ HOOPLA poets all in one room for the first time ever; Haiku Hike led by Richard von Sturmer (Blam, Blam, Blam) and Doc Drumheller; and the return of some crowd favourites -- True Stories Told Live with the New Zealand Book Council, Writing Songs & Playing Poetry in Alistair’s Music Room, and LitCrawl’s Off the Page.

The organizers do like to make a weekend of it and so have programmed Friday and Sunday night events to bookend the central LitCrawl itself:

Small_Holes_in_t_55beb4afca941On Friday 13 November there is the album release concert for Small Holes in the Silence, the new Rattle release by pianist Norman Meehan with Hannah Griffin and Bill Manhire.

On Sunday 14 November the popular Women of Letters hosted by Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire, returns with Jacinda Ardern, Renee, Suzy Cato, Kate Camp, Deirdre Tarrant, Courtney Sina Meredith, and Rachel King all reading aloud their letters to “the person I imagined I’d be.”

Both of these events are dear to Claire and Andrew for various reasons. Andrew has worked with and learned from Norman Meehan over some years of practising being a professional musician and Norman features on Andrew’s second solo album, The Empire City: Songs of Wellington.

Screen_Shot_2015_09_22_at_9.22.54_AMSmall Holes in the Silence is a marriage of poetry and jazz, and Andrew and Claire are delighted to be presenting it as their first event for the LitCrawl weekend.

Claire was introduced to Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire through a mutual literary programming friend while they were all in Edinburgh in 2013. Women of Letters had reached cult popularity by that time and was about to infiltrate New York.

The art of the letter is celebrated in this literary saloon where seven women are selected to write a letter on a theme to then read it aloud to a live audience. And so Claire and Andrew brought Marieke and Michaela to Wellington where the first Women of Letters event was held in 2014 and continues with Part II in a series for LitCrawl 2015.

And with a significant nod to those who play best in the morning, there are two very different but equally charming events at 11am on both Saturday and Sunday over the weekend (together called the Elevenses events):

There are also two 11am events for a slightly slower (though earlier) pace: on Saturday there is Storytime! for smaller LitCrawlers (5 - 12 years). Pollyanna Ferguson is a deaf storyteller who will tell some classic, quirky New Zealand tales with sign language interpreter, Rachel Tate. This is enchanting storytelling for all ages.

On Sunday morning is the Mills & Boon Book Club, a BYO Mills & Boon event chaired by Jen O’Sullivan with a panel of discerning readers who will talk plot, narrative device, beating hearts and flushed cheeks. 

LitCrawl 2015, Friday November 13 to Sunday November 15 at various venues across Wellington CBD including the City Gallery, Six Barrel Soda, Paramount, Ferret Bookshop, Pegasus Books, Hashigo Zake and Mt Victoria Lookout

For further information see: www.litcrawl.co.nz

After working in publishing in Europe, Claire Mabey came home to festivals and hasn't turned back. She is associate director of Tauranga Arts Festival, NZ Festival's Writers Week Coordinator and Culture Club Programme Manager, and works with her partner Andrew Laking on Pirate & Queen Productions like LitCrawl -- their favourite little festival based in Wellington.

In other lives she's enjoyed living in Greece with nuns, working on a soap farm in Devon and travelling around without much plan at all.

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