High school kids get taste of literary life at Writers Fest

TOMORROW’S WRITERS: From left, Sam Nash, Lily Evans, Kallum Robinson, Jessica Buddem and Billy Bird from Trinity Catholic College Lismore with their favourite books from the Byron Writers Festival.
TOMORROW’S WRITERS: From left, Sam Nash, Lily Evans, Kallum Robinson, Jessica Buddem and Billy Bird from Trinity Catholic College Lismore with their favourite books from the Byron Writers Festival. Christian Morrow

HOT on the heels of Splendour in the Grass comes the Byron Writers Festival.

It's another of the shire's flagship events that sees thousands flocking to town to hear from the best and brightest in the world of books and writing.

Yesterday it was the turn of high school students from across the region to come to the North Byron Events site to get a taste of the literary life.

In the Macquarie Marquee the students heard about the war on terror and how it impacts on the individual from former Australian army commander John Cantwell and one-time CIA agent Glenn Carle.

Year 8 Trinity Catholic College student Sam Nash found the session an eye-opening experience.

"When you look at the beginnings of war, it's always about power and greed," Sam said.

"It's not like politicians want to change the world they just seem to want the power and control."

Meanwhile, over in the SCU Marquee, the very love of words and literature was being considered by veteran journo Mungo MacCallum and crossword guru David Astle.

After the session Mr Astle spent time with several of the students dispensing advice and encouragement to them in their writing endeavours.

"The most important thing for young writers is to have the courage to express themselves and then go back and improve their work," he said.

"Every word has a secret, every word has a biography. I look at their shapes and wonder at how groups of them can coalesce into something beautiful.

Festival director Jeni Caffin said it was great to see so many young people interested in books.

"These are our future generation of readers and it's wonderful that they can come here and get a sense of all the things that literature can deliver," Ms Caffin said.

The 17th annual festival continues over the weekend and will feature literary and arts heavy-weights like DBC Pierre and Booker prize winner Peter Carey, together with Australian song-writing legends Paul Kelly and Archie Roach.

Other highlights include today's session, A Tale of Two Women: to the frozen north and the icebound south, featuring Hannah Kent, author of Burial Rites which was recently featured on the ABC TV's Australian Story.


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