Yeah, I know. I’m writing a post about bits of greenbelt that I enjoyed as I’m in the middle of booking/programming the festival in August.
But Si told me I’d forgotten. So I’m writing.
Needless to say I spent the majority of my time in The Hub (the visual arts and literature venue). I was a little stressed and a little snappy by the end of the weekend but the lovely visual arts volunteers were awesome and kept my energy levels up.
I didn’t get to see Rob Bell’s talk “Drops like Stars” but got to listen to the audio of it after the festival and was really moved by Rob’s discussion/dissection of the whole role of suffering in creativity. Deep stuff but told with a really light touch and funny. Had me crying and laughing all the way through. Rob is on tour in the UK. You can buy tickets and find out more information by following this link.
A lot of my highlights weren’t part of the programme. There were awesome conversations with Steve Lawson (and I’m convinced I heard him sing at this year’s festival. Although I may have dreamt it.), Jez Carr and Danny Smith (I love Danny, he’s a genius, a good friend and a wise soul. He’s got a heart of gold and I adored his progressing bewilderment over the course of the weekend. Him: “Everyone seems so nice”. Me: “They are.” Him: “What’s the angle here?”. Me: “There isn’t one”. I loved that he enjoyed himself, I loved that not everything at the festival sat comfortably with him. I loved his story of his being hung over and puking in one of the portacabins & the queue for the toilet asking him if he was ok.)
I really enjoyed listening to Dr Andrew Tate’s talks- one on “The Epic” and one on “Utopias and sacred spaces”. Andrew has grown from being someone who’s book on Douglas Coupland I devoured and listened to his talks at Greenbelt to becoming someone I’d count as a good friend. (I love how Greenbelt transfigures people I deeply admire into people whose phone numbers I have in my phone)
Andrew (Andy or cloudatlaskid on twitter) is able to talk in perfectly formed phrases. He seems to be able to summon the most complex sounding, intelligent and erudite phrases without breaking a sweat. Where I’m umm-ing and ahh-ing and forgetting people’s names, where they work and what they’re talking about; Andy is able to stand up, talk for 45 minutes and wow an audience with wit, intelligence and style. (Andy is one of the coolest people I know. He’s like every cool kid in sixth form when you were at school rolled into one)
Two “proper” hilights stand out for me. Luke Kennard and Jasper Fforde.
Luke Kennard was suggested to me by the lovely Sarah Dean from the Amos Trust. He’s a poet. I’m not a huge fan of poetry. I appreciate the form and like the occassional poem read aloud but I’m not a huge fan. I kicked off the interview with him saying explaining that my relationship with poetry was a little like some people’s relationship with brussell sprouts. He responded hoping that I’d view him as the Broccoli of the poetry world. We then spent the next hour wrestling the interview back to serious ground and failing. It was heaps of fun and the questions from the audience were excellent. Afterwards Luke said “This was the most fun I’ve had in a poetry reading”.
Jasper Fforde was a huge thrill to get onto the programme. His books are brilliant and he’s a really really nice guy. He gave us the first public reading of his new book “Shades of Grey” which sent a thrill through the capacity-and-spilling-out-the-door crowd. He then joined myself and Andy Tate for a really beautiful discussion about Walden which made me feel warm in my belly. (It still does just thinking about it) Two of my favourite authors chatting about a book I love and the conversation veered onto talking about the Muppets. Bonus.
All in all Greenbelt was a vintage year. One of the best I’ve been to. I can’t wait to see what the literature monkey does for #GB10- The art of looking sideways.