Tuesday 3 June 2014

Finchley Literary Festival

Greenacre Guest Blog by Mumpuni Murniati

I said to my two children aged eleven and eight, 'We’re going to CliFi Workshop next Saturday,’ Yes! was the response; not out of interest but the excitement that they would only spend half day at their Arabic School.

We arrived early. Rosie was looking tired but calm, particularly as the clock was ticking and the speaker was nowhere to be seen.  The kick-off event on 24th May started on time nevertheless. As my children seemed to settle in, I decided to saunter round browsing the library books. To my delight I spotted Amy Tan’s ‘The Opposite of Fate’; soon I was immersed in a chapter about her mother’s morbid imagination. I was thinking of the indescribable trauma the woman must have been through as a child following the suicide of her mother.  In so doing I did not hear my middle daughter’s answer in response to a question of what would happen beyond our lifetime. I was later told, she said: ‘We’ll invent the ‘fountain of youth’ and learn to speak to animals.’ My English was not as good as hers when I was eight.

At the end of the session she and her brother admitted that they had enjoyed the experience and moreover Sarah Holding’s the SeaBEAN Trilogy had enticed them with ‘ideas’ (I’m always intrigued when they say the word ). In my view, Holding writes well and I hope her books line the shelves of the school libraries so the likes of The Diary of the Whimpering Kid, can be put away. 

At the Anthology Launch on Sunday 25th I was one of the readers.  My story ‘Expedients’ was about the long-overdue meeting between two ‘strangers’ in a park. Andi Byrne’s ‘Authors In Residence’ was the story I enjoyed most, for I recalled a similar accident at home concerning ‘The Oxford Companion of English Literature.'  The victim was my eldest son, for the heavy book was put on a shelf over his desk and well...accidents happen! You'll have to read the anthology to find out what happened in Andi Byrne's story.

On a serious note it was a good networking event for Greenacre Writers and I hope the same event will continue in 2015.

On 28th I took my two daughters and their friend for A.L. Michael’s forty-five minute workshop ‘Write Here Write Now’ at Friern Barnet Community Library. The workshop aimed to enrich the children’s writing through a number of approaches, eg. speed writing and using various objects to conjure up a character. Despite the rain, there was a good turn-out. In between the session I chatted with Carol (another Greenacre Writer) whose nephew also participated.  Moreover, I congratulated Michael on the publication of her debut chick-lit novel The Last Word.

On the way home I told the girls the tale of the occupied library and how this had contributed to it reaching its eightieth ‘birthday’ on the 23rd March (I supposed my words fell to deaf ears as they were much more interested in going back as soon as they could L).

I also attended the first session of The Reader Organisation on 29th May to which I also took my three children, held at North Finchley Library. Paul Higgins and Ruth Cohen were the jolly facilitators. We read ‘Meeting Echo’; a chance encounter between two young minds in an airport; the Chinese girl Echo and the English man Danny. Each person in the circle was able to convey their thoughts and impressions in relation to the story which was fascinating.

The last fifteen minutes were spent discussing ‘Daydream,’ a short poem which seemed to reverberate John Lennon’s Imagine. Somebody then recalled the days when being an ‘idle child’ was something to be frowned at.

The hour passed but the story and the poem lingered in me. I felt grateful that my darlings could stay (and most importantly they behaved).

The Dragon’s Pen the day after was a learning curve (‘Yay! We don’t need to go,’ shouted my children thanks to friends who were willing to babysit them).  The five minutes slot went fast, but I managed to finish reading my flash fiction ‘Shadows’ seconds before the knocking on the door.

Talking to other participants about their work and pursuits beforehand eased me a little from the pressure equivalent to a walk-in job interview.  And yet, the three ‘dragons’ themselves Cari Rosen, Gillian Stern and Mary Musker  turned out to be three wonder women who had no resemblance whatsoever to the Hungarian Horntails.

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