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Central Christchurch Transformed by Words

Tuesday 26 August 2014

Central Christchurch Transformed by Words

More than 100 writers, thinkers, commentators and performers from New Zealand and around the world will transform central Christchurch into a haven of lyrics, poetry and prose with the opening of WORD Writers and Readers Festival tomorrow (Wednesday 27 August).

The Festival - which runs from 27-31 August - opens at 7.30pm by demonstrating its unswerving commitment to Christchurch – launching the Cardboard Cathedral book in the venue itself, featuring the architect who designed it, Shigeru Ban. Mr Ban who recently won the world’s most prestigious architects’ award – the Pritzker Prize - has flown from Paris solely to show his support to the city at the launch.

The multi-day festival which features more than 68 events taking place in the heart of the city, offers entertainment, politics, ideas, food and fiction for pre-schoolers to adults alike.

WORD literary director Rachael King hopes Cantabrians will venture to see writers they may not have come across before, as well as booking to hear their favourites.

“One of the great pleasures of festival-going is discovering new voices and broadening your understanding on an issue from listening to global experts. I’m hugely excited by the depth and diversity of this year’s line-up – from well known novelists to song writers and philosophers - there truly is something to suit everyone.”

Many of this year’s highlight sessions are close to selling out.
“There are only a few tickets left to: Nicky Hager’s Secrets, Spies and Free Speech session with international foreign correspondents Luke Harding and Richard King; US rebuilding cities expert Reed Kroloff’s session Lessons from Adversity; Eleanor Catton’s The Luminary and The Great New Zealand Crime Debate.

“I encourage you to book soon to avoid missing out,” says Ms King.

Pechakucha on Thursday 28th August, The Stars Are Out Tonight – WORD’s opening gala night on Friday 29 August, We Need New Names with novelist NoViolet Bulawayo on Saturday 30 Augustand Meg Wolitzer’s fiction workshop on Sunday 31 August are all sold out.

WORD 2014 is the most varied programme in the festival’s 17-year history. It’s both international in scope and intensely local, with sessions that are very relevant to Christchurch audiences, including Rebuilding Christchurch: Red Zones, Green Frames and Blueprints - a panel based around the Christchurch recovery and a panel on writing tough stories, featuring Gaylene Preston, creator of Hope & Wire, the TV drama about the earthquakes.

For those who enjoy a less beaten path, WORD has introduced a Fringe Programme this year, which is packed with entertaining and stimulating events, such as a panel on the power of superhero comics, experimental poetry, local songwriters discussing their craft, and a theremin performance.

Another new addition to the festival is the Saturday free family events at Rydges Latimer, with international and New Zealand children’s writers, giving Christchurch kids the chance to get up close to their favourite writers.

Special events snapshot
One of the world’s renowned food writers and critics, New York’s Ruth Reichl appears in The Best Possible Taste, Saturday 30 August, 12.30pm.

Join adept and articulate MC Joe Bennett for The Great New Zealand Crime Debate as he chairs a raucous night of argument and repartee while a stellar line-up of debaters, including Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel and writers Steve Braunias and Meg Wolitzer, argues the moot, ‘Crime doesn’t pay’. The debate is followed by presentation of the 2014 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel. Saturday 30 August, 8pm, Rydges Latimer.

The multi-million copy, New York Times bestselling author of The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield talks about her work with novelist Nicky Pellegrino on Saturday 30 August at 3.30pm.

Australian philosopher Damon Young explores one of literature’s most intimate relationships, that between writers and their gardens, at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Saturday 30 August, 10am, Botanic Gardens Visitors Centre.

New Zealand writer Elizabeth Knox, winner of the recent New Zealand Post Award for Young Adult Fiction, presents the inaugural Margaret Mahy Lecture, entitled An Unreal House Filled with Real Storms. Sunday 31 August, 10am, Rydges Latimer.

Two superb Ngāi Tahu storytellers, Tā Tipene O’Regan and Tahu Pōtiki, with chair Paulette Tamati-Elliffe, recount gripping and memorable tribal stories from creation myths to tūpuna tales, and contemporary stories from Kaikoura to Rakiura and from Hokitika to Horomaka in Kōrero Pūrākau – Ngāi Tahu Storytelling. Sunday 31 August, 11.30am, Rydges Latimer.

WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival warmly thanks its major funders The Press, Christchurch City Council, Creative New Zealand and Canterbury Community Trust; festival and session sponsors Duncan Cotterill, PwC, Te Runanga o Ngāi Tahu, New Zealand Institute of Architects, Beca, All Right?, Foodstuffs, Academy Funeral Services, Hawkesby & Co, Harcourts Gold, Heritage Management Services and Publica; our festival patrons and supporters, partners and supporting publishers.


For the full WORD programme go to:

Tickets are on sale from
@ChchWritersFest #wordchch

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