Having been a visiting writer at the Ignite Your Mind Festival, I have to say I was quite astonished by the fervour of the audiences to which I spoke.
The audiences ranged from primary school children through secondary school students to adults, and represented remarkably diverse backgrounds. In particular I was struck by the number of farmers who came to sessions, along with unemployed people, a couple of doctors, housewives, shop assistants and so on. Not surprisingly, a number of teachers attended, and they stood out as particularly eager to learn about new approaches to literature, writing, reading and literacy, and the new understandings they were able to gain from my distinguished colleagues, including in-demand authors like Morris Gleitzman and Nick Earls.
I’ve been to many writers festivals around Australia and overseas, but I haven’t often witnessed the desire for this kind of cultural experience that I experienced during my time in the Burdekin region. The festival was extremely well-run and organised, which no doubt contributed significantly to its success. I think we authors all felt exhausted by the time we headed back to the airport, but we also felt a sense that we had made a really worthwhile impact.
John Marsden – Contributing Author