Commonwealth Writer’s Week, Brisbane, 1982

by
November 1982, no. 46

Commonwealth Writer’s Week, Brisbane, 1982

by
November 1982, no. 46

For the previous Commonwealth Writers’ Week associated with the Commonwealth Games at Edmonton, a large if not necessarily lively anthology of writing from all countries of the Commonwealth was produced. Brisbane produced a twelve page ‘Guide to Participants’ which showed that only eighteen of the sixty-three listed participants were not Australian or Australian born. Not all of the eighteen visitors turned up, the most conspicuous absentee being Edward Brathwaite of Jamaica. This imbalance was reflected in the sessions themselves, nearly half of which were exclusively Australian in content. ‘Directions in Australian Drama’, and ‘Australia – a Dependent Culture’ were designed to leave the overseas visitors sitting politely in back seats. By midweek there were distinct groups of Us and Them forming. A more communicative balance, though, was achieved because of the venue for half the sessions and all the visiting participants – the Banyo Seminary, a large echoing boarding school of a place overlooking Brisbane’s industrial estuary and sited to attract all the prevailing sea breezes. An informal messing in at mealtimes and in the communal bathrooms did more for human and social contact than any of the formal sessions. As with the Writers’ Retreat at the last Adelaide Festival (available only to selected participants), this informal living together was to produce genuinely stimulating contacts and conversations. For this alone, the Brisbane Writers’ Week was a refreshing change from previous literary occasions.

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