WAM Bam, thank you fam!

Hey cHEwY gum gums

I’m writing in the Albury Library Museum, waiting for my taxi to pick me up to the airport. It’s been another hectic festival week, though this one has been a pleasure, thanks to the mix of events and audiences, as well as a chance for me to watch a few adult sessions. Can I start by saying how impressive this festival line up is? And here I am, right in the middle of it haha.

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I arrived into Albury on Wednesday afternoon, with Jane Caro (our third festival together in as many weeks hehe) before I watched her with Catherine Fox on a panel about their latest books. Plenty of food for thought.

Then I had dinner with old author pal, Deb Abela, who is as we speak on an hiking adventure! She was at the tail end of book season, where I still have another 2 more weeks to go!

The WAM 4 Kids program kicked off for me. I was in a different venue each time, which kept me on my toes. I had three talks on Thursday (including one in front of K-2 kids haha) and then three workshops on Friday. So many cool cHEwY gum gums from schools around the Albury-Wodonga region.

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But it was the chance meetings with other authors which got me excited, seeing Scot Gardner (one of the funniest YA authors out there), Steven Herrick (who I got to see perform at the poetry slam), Alison Lester (who I only saw last week in Melbourne hohoho) and Alice Pung…

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I could write a whole blog about Alice and perhaps I will one day. I have a massive writers crush on Alice and she continues to impress on the page with her latest collection of essays and works, as well as on the stage, where she shared her thoughts on inclusion, racism in Australia and more. This session also had Arnold Zable, who inspired Alice to be a writer when he visited her school, Amal Awad and was chaired by Ben Dohorty. These are authors that I would never normally have met because the kids and adults program never mix, but because I was here for the family day session on Saturday, I got to say hi to cool authors like Andy Muir and Lee Kofman. I may even read their books someday hehe.

Some of the thoughts shared on the panel are mind-blowing. But if I can try to sum it up in one sentence. Speak up about racism and keep talking about it, change is a slow-burn.

Alice actually mentioned me during the panel, which made me blush. She said that as an Asian-Australian author visiting schools, I am making it ‘normal’ for other kids to see themselves as authors.

Right back at you, Alice 🙂

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In between sessions, I went for jogs down the Murray River, where I bumped into Steven Herrick on his bike. He was the special guest for the WAM SLAM, a poetry slam hosted by 2018 APS champion, Melanie Mununggurr-Williams. She was so down-to-earth and gracious in her presence, which made her own performances even more amazing because you felt each word.

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So yeah, by the time Saturday came around, I only had more session to go and it was a blast. I managed to sell all my books and surprised plenty of kids (and their parents) with my toys, stories and jokes. What Alice said about me is in the back of head as I pretend to be a dinosaur. I’m just out here doing my thing, paving the way for others…

All in all, this was another raging success, and definitely one more highlight on what has been the year of the festival 🙂


About the author

I'm an author, stand-up comedian and teacher. My books include Thai-riffic!, Con-nerd, Punchlines and The Other Christy. I'm a massive Nintendo fan and love eating burgers. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram @oliverwinfree

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