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The LitCrawl 2015 Interview

By Martyn 4 Nov 2015

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Images from LitCrawl 2014

I thought that Wellington had a really rich independent publishing culture. A lot of writers live in Wellington. Also the geography of Wellington is so close and easy. I felt like there was an opportunity to try and bring those things together. - Claire Mabey

A discussion about the relationship between science and poetry held inside a beautiful secondhand bookstore. A short Japanese haiku hike around Mt Victoria. Protest writing discussions inside a theatre, and a literature pub quiz with origami. If any of this sounds interesting to you, you're going to want to check out the full program for the 2015 installment of Wellington's now annual LitCrawl festival.

Held on Saturday the 14 of November in Wellington, it's a celebration of art, literature and spoken word performances by over 80 writers; local, national and international. To get a proper sense of what's going on, I gave one of LitCrawl's directors Claire Mabey a call. Clear you calendar and make an evening of it. 

Martyn Pepperell: For those who are unfamiliar, can you explain what LitCrawl is?

Claire Mabey: It is fifteen different events over one night in fifteen different venues in the Wellington CBD. All of the venues are places you might go for other things, like to have a drink, buy food, or buy some books. We turned those places into venues for really exciting groups of people who are coming together to talk about something or perform something in a short period of time, because every session is only forty five minutes long. 

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Images from LitCrawl 2014

Martyn Pepperell: How long has LitCrawl been running for, and where did the idea come from?

Claire Mabey: It started last year in 2014. This is only the second LitCrawl Wellington. I thought that Wellington had a really rich independent publishing culture. A lot of writers live in Wellington. Also the geography of Wellington is so close and easy. I felt like there was an opportunity to try and bring those things together.

Early last year I went traveling for about six months. I went to a thing called Words On The Street in Dublin, which is a night dedicated to celebrating European literature in Dublin. I was also chatting with a couple of people from around the world who had been to events that brought literary things into a more comfortable arena. I also went to the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl. You go from pub to pub hearing stories about Dublin's literary culture.

We developed LitCrawl for Wellington and really worked on the Wellington venues and the Wellington publishing scene. It's an adaptation of a few different ideas.

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Images from LitCrawl 2014

There are a lot of individuals in Wellington working really hard to get people's work out. I think this is kind of unique for New Zealand, having such a wealth of productive people in one place. - Claire Mabey

Martyn Pepperell: How would you describe Wellington's writing and publishing cultures?

I guess one of the cornerstones of publishing in Wellington is Victoria University Press and The Institute of Modern Letters. So, there is this source of professional writers teaching the new up-and-coming writers at the university, and the university press continuously putting out all these brilliant New Zealand books. Around that there is all these amazing individuals creating monthly or quarterly literary magazines and zines. These publications really celebrate the eclectic mix of writers living and working in Wellington.

So, there is a lot of production and a lot of people making things that share New Zealand literature, whether that is online publications or journals, or a series of books. There are a lot of individuals in Wellington working really hard to get people's work out. I think this is kind of unique for New Zealand, having such a wealth of productive people in one place. 

Claire Mabey: There are fifteen events, but the night is divided into four parts right?

Yes. The night is divided into four parts. The hard thing about LitCrawl is it's impossible to go to all of the sessions. There are sessions every hour, and then afterwards we have an after-party where everyone can come together, talk about what they have seen, buy some books, and meet the writers.

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