alimcgregor

This is the Mulcher sketch of singer Ali McGregor, one of the lively panellists at the recording of the Book Show’s program on what musicians read, broadcast today. (The Reading on Vocation series, which has covered gardeners; nuns, scientists, filmmakers, captains of industry (was there one on pirates?), doctors and lawyers. Hear them on podcast.)

It was also the Wheeler Centre‘s last evening event of 2010 — their first, triumphant calendar.

It is definitely one of the richest cultural things to happen to Melbourne — and you can see why the Writer’s Festival might be angsty. All the events are free, happen year-round at lunchtime and twilight, with a calibre of speakers that might be the envy of a similar setup in London if they only had one.

The Mulcher salutes director Chrissy Sharp (well-named!), head of programming Michael Williams (and what a head), programming coordinator, the lovely Claire Smiddy, online manager George Dunford (Mr Networked) and the seven other hardworking folk in the team — they have made this place a congregational magnet for the citizens who love the substance and atmospherics of ideas. A free exchange, exactly.

They come back in February 2011 with a gala night of reading by international and local writers. And a couple of weeks later they go into the Big Gay Week blasting off with the wonderful Armistead Maupin. Oh, literate Hobartians and Adelayeans, Perthores and Darwinites, Brisbaneers and even Sydnelites — if only you could share this bounty.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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