Sam van Zweden




Emerging Blogger, Coming Through!

An exciting announcement! I’ve been accepted as one of the Emerging Bloggers for the Melbourne Writers’ Festival (in partnership with Emerging Writers’ Festival). Myself and four other bloggers have been granted the amazing opportunity to go along to the Festival and soak up all the writerly and readerly vibes, and blog about it all. So fear not, I’ll be taking you with me all the way!

Below is the piece I submitted to apply for this opportunity. I hope you enjoy it, and I’m looking foward to sharing the Festival with you here. Keep an eye out before the festival for my picks, and if you’re a Festival attendee and you need a date, hit me up. We can hang.

Only Connect: 

Think about the last really good book you read. Really good books grab hold of something inside us and don’t let go. The best books are the ones that are close to impossible to articulate in terms of why they are so great.

Give it a go – in that last great book you read, what about it stuck with you? Was it the author’s use of rhythm, alliteration or pastiche? If you’re a really critical reader, perhaps you do take note of the author’s knack with minimalism, or their broad use of literary allusion. But you remember these things because they provoke some sort of feeling inside you.

While we may live in a post-modern world, where the author is dead and reading any cultural artefact becomes a individualist free-for-all, good books don’t exist in a vaccuum. Good books come about through that invisible bond between the reader and the writer. By spinning this story and sending it out into the world, the author has followed EM Forster’s mandate to “only connect!”. There is a lot of wisdom in the idea that a reader’s experience impacts the meaning that they draw from a text, but that text doesn’t come from nowhere.

I’ve just finished reading Charlotte Wood’s Love and Hunger. The book is a foodie memoir, made up partly of Wood’s memories of foods and the stories that go with certain foods for her, and partly of recipes that go with the stories she tells. Upon finishing this book, I needed to sit in silence for a while, having had something inside me moved. I needed to be still and interrogate my emotions to figure out what about this book had so grabbed hold of me. I realized that the reason I was so affected by Love and Hunger was because of my own closeness to food, with two chefs in my immediate family. The bond that Wood makes clear between food and stories is something I relate to entirely. In reading this memoir, I felt a connection with the author, despite never meeting, never talking, never interacting beyond the pages of her book.

Finding a good book involves handing yourself over entirely to what you’re reading, trusting the author’s attempt to connect with their readers, and doing your part as a reader by interrogating your emotions. Turn inward and look inside yourself for the answer; the connection.

Poetry Just 4 U

Officially dubbing this past week “success-a-palooza”.

Today marks the start of the Melbourne Writers Festival, which runs until the 5th of September.

I’m excited to have gotten tickets for Dog’s Tales, a night run by Chris Flynn which is usually on at the Dogs Bar in St Kilda, but for the MWF will spend a night at the Toff in Town. My dazzling non-fiction teacher Kalinda Ashton will be performing, as well as one of my favourite authors Josephine Rowe, and the woman who introduced to me the idea that short stories can be truly magical, Carmel Bird. Should be an incredible night!

Apart from this, I have some exciting MWF-related news: some of my micropoetry has been accepted for the RMIT Poetry 4 U program, which can be followed on Twitter throughout the festival, as well as selected pieces running across the LED screens at Federation Square between 12pm and 2pm daily throughout the festival. I’ve seen some of the entries from last year, and there was some great work, so follow the project or head down to Fed Square one day to check it out!

The general public are also invited to participate via Twitter, just add the #poetry4u hashtag to any nanofiction or micropoetry you might want to put out there.

Have a great festival!

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