Sunday began a little later than expected with the sad withdrawal of Les Murray. So instead of starting my day with him reading his poems, I started by hearing an eclectic group of writers reading their 500 words autobiographical story.
This time last year I was one of the nervous contributors, waiting to read my own short story, about canoeing with Hippos in Zimbabwe, so I could understand what these people, mostly first time writers, were going through.
I took no notes for this, as the stories were so engaging I simply forgot to write things down, so relying on memory here!
First up was the guy known as Mr Ukulele. Having had an epic ukulele lesson from him only a few weeks earlier, it was lovely to hear the story of meeting his wife and wooing her, all to the backdrop of an Ani DiFranco song, he even played the song on his guitar! It was funny and romantic, and made our hearts swell.
There were stories of much frivolity and laughter: about a young boy breaking the hills hoist from swinging on it too much, another about a young couple jumping on a bed so much the print that hung above it fell off and broke, and one of lady being scared of spiders and the lengths she went to to avoid walking past one in her house.
A man told a heart wrenching story about almost losing everything in his life after an accident at work, and his brief homelessness and subsequent depression. Tears came to my eyes as he gently told his story and it's uplifting ending of hope. I knew this man. And let's face it, there for the grace of god we all walk.
A heavily accented lady told a great and hilarious cultural difference story behind the phrase, 'bring a plate' to a BBQ.
Another uplifting story was about making a change in one's life and going for your dreams, in this man's case, a photographer, and getting there, more quickly and professionally than he even imagined.
All the stories had heart, great depth and range, these people showcased their lives and the world they live/d in, with grace, humility, humour, and generosity.
The 500 Words project, by ABC Open, and looked after beautifully in The Hunter, by Anthony Scully is a great project. You submit autobiographical stories of 500 words each month on a specified topic. It can test you with memory, sharpness, being spare, and entertaining. I have been involved, at work and personally, with the project for some time now and cannot recommend it enough.