Saturday, June 02, 2012


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.
MORE > at We Love This Book

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