Wellington Scoop

Crime novelists and cabaret experience at Verb Wellington

News from Verb Wellington
Crime novelists Val McDermid (Scotland) and Michael Connelly (US), a cabaret experience from acclaimed artist Harry Giles (Scotland), musician Shayne Carter, Australian novelist Christos Tsiolkas, and Aotearoa writers Patricia Grace and poet Laureate David Eggleton are to headline Verb Wellington’s annual extravaganza of literary experiences.

“Our festival’s name is inspired by the poet Lauris Edmond’s words: “this is the city of action / the world headquarters of the verb”, and our festival reflects that sense of energy. Many voices are coming together to get excited about what words can do, how they move us, what the craft of writing and storytelling brings to our lives.” Says Verb Director, Claire Mabey.

There are many ways to experience Verb Festival. Drone by Harry Giles is a multi-media cabaret piece with live sound and projection against a mesmerising performance by Harry. There are foodie options such as High Tea with best-selling authors Danielle Hawkins and Catherine Robertson, or shared dinner with poet Nina Powles and essayist Rose Lu. You can explore your own potential with creative writing workshops including one at the Island Bay Surf Club with travel writers Annette Lees (author of Swim) and Ingrid Horrocks.

Among the quirkier offering is limited capacity sessions in the Freemasons’ Lodge in the historic Wellesley Boutique Hotel where you can relax in plush surrounds while writers such as Elizabeth Knox read to you from their latest books.

The centrepiece is the now famous LitCrawl Wellington which is 27 events across almost as many venues in the city’s CBD. “The Crawl is even more dynamic for 2019: regular crawlers will enjoy some venue change-ups and the sessions choices are just brilliant thanks to many minds contributing, including writers Morgan Godfery, Ataria Sharman, Tina Makereti, Carolyn DeCarlo and Danyl Mclauchlan” said Mabey.

Conversation highlights include an event on writing tense scenes with celebrated novelists Sarah Moss (UK, Ghost Wall) and Carl Shuker (The Mistake); RNZ’s Kim Hill interviews Irish writer Sinéad Gleeson about the astounding success of her powerful memoir, Constellations; and African-Canadian writer D. Nandi Odhiambo speaks with Diane Comer, author of The Braided River about writing place when yours is a migrant’s story.

Families have lots to choose from with a KidsCrawl at Porirua Library, a morning of adventure stories with writers Mike Allsop and Robert Venell, and an animal stories workshop with artist Phoebe Morris.

Comics are celebrated with a ‘Talking Mural’ created for Verb by artist Sarah Laing and supported by Wellington City Council and Te Auaha: a scene from Pōneke’s future is depicted… you decide what the citizens are saying as the speech bubbles can be changed. Sarah Laing will also be talking to Selina Tusitala Marsh about Selina’s latest book, Mop Head, a graphic memoir about how difference can be powerful.

On why writers festivals are important, Mabey said: “There’s nothing more powerful than the human voice and the human imagination. Writers are alchemists – they take those inherent qualities and apply so much skill and hard work to reflect those powers back at us. We all have the right to feel powerful and know we have the ability to harness our imaginations. I think that many problems we have are due to a failure of the imagination and feelings of powerlessness. There are so many stories to tell and to learn from. Writers festivals give you the chance to see the wondrous and magical side to being a person on this planet – full of stories and potential. At Verb there will be writers you’ll know and love but also stories you haven’t heard and experiences that will surprise you, make you think, fill your belly, feed your mind!”

Verb Festival runs 6 – 10 November
LitCrawl Wellington happens on Saturday 9 November, 6pm – 9.30pm (entry to events by donation)

Tickets: On sale 8pm, 4 September, verbwellington.nz
There are a mix of free and ticketed events across the festival.
All tickets are at verbwellington.nz
There is a student / unwaged option for most events.
There are passes available which save money on multiple events.

Verb Festival is made possible thanks to: Creative New Zealand, Wellington City Council, Pub Charity, Wellington Community Trust, Lion Foundation, Culture Ireland, Embassy of the United States of America, Creative Scotland, Mātātuhi Foundation, Scottish Books International, Vic Books, Te Auaha, City Gallery, Bowen Galleries, Victoria University Press, Wellington North Rotary Club, Blue Star, Otago University Press, Gazeley’s, Churton Wines, Black Dog Brewery, The Park Hotel and Pirate & Queen.

(First published September 4.)