Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Saturday, June 02, 2012
THE HAY FESTIVAL AT 25
Hay Festival founder Peter Florence remembers 25 years of
what Bill Clinton called “the Woodstock of the mind”
In a digital world, it seems more important than ever
to be together: there’s nothing quite like the intimate contact
of face-to-face conversation. In a way, Hay (and the festival, in
particular) is like a physical manifestation of the internet. There are
untold miles of second-hand books that hold browsable stories; thousands of
old – and potentially new – friends in a real social network, all sharing
their love of books and music; and people from all over the world discussing
ideas. The big plusses are great food, spectacular landscape and the
pleasures of mind and flesh.
There have been incredible moments: Van Morrison’s legendary
five-hour gig in 2001; Ted Hughes reading against a storm in a tent that
almost left the ground; Maya Angelou summoning a rainbow over the Wye
through sheer force of poetry; the crowd roaring their love for Desmond
Tutu and Wangari Maathai; and the opportunity to talk over many years and
on four continents to my activist hero Bob Geldof. But the abiding memory
is the pleasure of seeing friends year on year, the coming together bit of
festivals that is so magical.