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Page & Blackmore Readers and Writers Nelson Arts Festival

Page & Blackmore Readers and Writers Nelson Arts Festival October 16-27 2014

The bets are on in Nelson as to how long Eleanor Catton’s session at the local arts festival will take to sell out, when tickets go on sale tomorrow (Saturday 9 August).

“Call me cautious but I give it four weeks,” says Page & Blackmore Readers and Writers’ coordinator Jacquetta Bell. “Arts festival director Sophie Kelly reckons a week and Thomas at Page & Blackmores says four days!”

Bell says while she’s thrilled to have the Man Booker prize winner leading the line up for the festival, which runs from October 16-27, there are 13 other great events and two writers’ workshops.

“After years of pleading, crime fiction fans can meet their darling Paul Cleave, and we’re really pleased to to host Central Otago artist Grahame Sydney whose retrospective collection of works will be fresh out from our local stars Craig Potton Publishing,” she said.

Others on the list include long-time peace activist Maire Leadbeater on the role protest played in making New Zealand nuclear free, Damien Fenton presenting his book on the nation-building carnage and heroism of World War 1, and Auckland University Professor Davinia Caddy who will be on stage with La Vida string quartet to unravel the mysteries of classical music.

As in past years most sessions are on the weekends of the festival at the Granary Festival Café, but Bell says there are a couple of events that take a new tack.

“This year we’re offering a girlish lunch with Woman’s Day columnist Sarah-Kate Lynch who recently turned 50, shot off to Paris to buy shoes and turned it all into a book called Screw You Dolores,” she said. “And we have an evening gig with Duncan Sarkies and pianist Sean O’Brien, in The Demolition Of The Century, where private investigator Tom Spotswood loses his job, his socks and, most worryingly, his son.”

There are two ‘Thinking Brunch’ panel discussions – the first is on the future of public broadcasing, to be discussed by Radio NZ CEO Paul Thompson, Karyn Hay from Radio Live, Carol Hirschfeld from Maori Television, TVNZ’s Tim Wilson and avid listener Judy Finn. In the second brunch a week later, visiting writers are joined by a couple of locals on the topic of war, peace and the shaping of the Kiwi identity.

Readers & Writers wraps up with Poetry in the Vineyard at the lovely Woollaston Estates on Labour Day, where Victoria University’s Harry Ricketts will deliver a selection of his poems - noted for their deftly satiric touch and wry personal commentaries.

Nelson City Councillor Matt Lawrey will chair the Thinking Brunches and a session on Tim Wilson’s pacey media satire News Pigs. He said Page & Blackmore’s ongoing support for the Readers and Writers programme had created an event that was eagerly awaited in the city.

"Not only is Page & Blackmore Nielsen's New Zealand Bookshop of the Year, it's a Trafalgar St landmark and a huge contributor to the arts and culture in Nelson. It's also owned and run by very nice people," he said. “As the event producers, the Nelson City Council would like to acknowledge Jacquetta Bell’s efforts in once again delivering a programme practically pulsing with intelligence, creativity, insight, beauty and humour.

‘Nelson's love of the arts and culture is one of the things that defines our city and makes it such a great place to live. That's why the Council is happy to support Page & Blackmore Readers and Writers - Nelsonians can really be proud of this event.”

The Nelson Arts Festival (October 16-27) is presented annually by the Nelson City Council as a celebration for locals and an attraction for visitors. More information and tickets at


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