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This report is taken from PN Review 52, Volume 13 Number 2, November - December 1986.

Letter from Wellington Harry Ricketts
From 5-26 March Wellington has been playing host to New Zealand's first International Festival of the Arts, and as a result had the brief but unprecedented experience of feeling like a major cultural centre. Indeed if being 'culture-drunk' had suddenly been declared a criminal offence, then many Wellingtonians must have been living in constant danger of prosecution as they reeled from Dame Joan Sutherland to the Sydney Dance Company or was it Laurie Anderson?

Out of the many varied attractions not the least has been the Writers and Readers Week. Morning, afternoon and evening, audiences often of several hundred have poured into the Old and New Town Halls for readings and panel discussions featuring an impressive cast-list of local and overseas poets and novelists. At the equivalent of a pound a ticket (fifty pence for students), this has certainly qualified as the least inflated of all the events.

Twenty years ago (and probably even ten years ago), there's little doubt that these audiences would have been turning up for the overseas talent, would have been coming for Fleur Adcock (UK), Timothy Findley (Canada), David Lodge (UK), David Malouf (Australia), Felix Mnthali (Malawi), Craig Raine (UK), Alain Robbe-Grillet (France), Robert Stone (USA) and Albert Wendt (Samoa). And to some extent this was still the case. But for a New Zealand public now busy discovering and celebrating its own writers, Allen Curnow, Murray Edmond, Janet Frame, Keri Hulme, Margaret Mahy, C. K. Stead and Hone Tuwhare (to name only ...


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