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Does my story look big in this?

For the very first session of the 2013 Byron Bay Writers’ Festival, Meg Vann hosted an entertaining conversation about literary form and its many varieties with singer Gyan Evans, Indonesian writer/journalist Lily Yulianti Farid, spoken word artist Miles Merrill and the Heading North competition winner Tessa Bergan. Each writer demoed different literary forms as a teaser of their individual work.

Miles Merrill’s spoken word and performance poetry draws on theatre, hip-hop and stand-up comedy. Born in Chicago and now Sydney-based, Merrill says he got into spoken word via an acting. During an audition, he realised that if he wanted to be an actor he would always have to play the part the director wanted.

Merrill recalls that the director asked “What are you doing? The lead is not black. The man’s name is Murphy, he has got to be Irish.”

Merrill replied: “Then how do you explain Eddie Murphy?”

Singer/songwriter/author Gyan Evans filled the tent with her orchestral voice and had punters holding their breath from the first note. She sung a beautiful poem from her latest book, Bear in Mind. The poem centered on two birds weathering a wild storm with nothing to hold onto. Gyan is a singer, songwriter and author who was performed to sold out audiences at the Sydney Opera House with cartoonist and fellow BBWF 2013 festival guest, Michael Leunig.

Founder and director of Makassar International Writers Festival, short story writer and journalist Lily Yulianti Farid indulged the audience with a snippet from one of her short stories about three women in a house; a mother, the nannie and a young child. The mother ran a business, which the government had control over and the young girl watched on as a government official bribed her mother.

Tessa Burgen also shared a snippet from her Heading North winning short story, which explores the natural landscape of her story about surfing in Lennox Head with her father. “I bend my knees and press my feet hard into the rocks steadying myself as another wave comes towards us.” Tessa is a journalist with the Echo newspaper and is also completing a Graduate Certificate in editing and publishing.

Kelly Wintour is a Southern Cross University Media Student.

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