R. Hi I’m Ralph...
J. I’m Joel. We're From Binge Culture. Welcome to the LitCrawl audio tour.
R: LitCrawl is the festival of art, literature and the spoken word. It happens each year over just one night, with a range of different literary events in shops, bars, and cafes around Wellington.
J: What we’re going to do in this tour is give you an inside introduction to LitCrawl.
R: We’ll visit some of the venues, get a feeling for the festival, and hear some of the performances.
J: But take a seat first, so we can tell you a little more about today's walk.
R. So you can probably look around and see the same things we can see: the big metal tripod and people sitting on the chairs around you, maybe eating their lunch and the buses going past.
J. You won’t see us though..
R. No. But we’re here.
J. Sort of.
R. We wanted to go with you on the tour but we couldn’t’t find a very long extension cord for our microphone, so what we did instead is we found this programme called Google Maps...
J. And the thing about Google Maps is that you can go onto a thing called Streetview which basically like being there.
R. It is, we’re pretty much there.
J. If I was to guess which person you were on Streetview, I would say you are the woman with the red hair and the black pants and the grey cardigan...
R. Or maybe you’re the man sitting on the bench by the leg of the tripod who might be drinking a beer, dressed all in black. It's kind of hard to tell. We can’t see anyone’s faces. They’re blurred out.
J. Before we go, let’s hear from Claire Mabey and Andrew Laking, the directors of the festival. They started it in 2014, and its fast becoming an institution here in Wellington.
R. We had a bit of chat with them and asked what the premise of litcrawl is, what the big idea behind it [is].
J. Here’s Claire and Andy.
A Yeah, it’s a um, it’s a literature festival, it focuses on spoken word. Has about 75 writers
C Yeah there's, um, I guess the whole foundation of it is that it happens over a short period of time, over three hours and one night, in fifteen different venues that are quite close together in the Wellington CBD, and every session is quite different with lots of kind of ideas explored around what is writing and what can writers do.
J. So that’s basically the gist of litcrawl. What we’re going to do now is use the magic of google maps, which is by nature stuck in the past, to take us back in time to the night of Litcrawl 2015.
R: So close your eyes… and when you open them… imagine that it’s LitCrawl night.
J: Ralph and I have gone through the program and we’ve picked out some of the events that we want to take you to.
R: Let’s get a move on, because they fill up pretty fast and we want to get a good spot. So let’s go on our own exclusive LitCrawl adventure.
J: Grab your device and chuck it in your pocket, we’ll tell you where to go, so you should be fine. If you ever do get stuck or lost, you can always pull out your phone or whatever, have a look at the app, and it’ll have a little route on it and show you where the next stop is. You can always do that as a last resort, but we’re going to try and guide you pretty carefully. So grab your stuff now, and head off down Courtenay place towards paramount.
R. Google maps is taking us down the road with the cars, but for you it’s probably best to walk along the footpath I think. And as we walk together let’s hear Andy tell us just a little bit more about how the festival works.
A It’s kind of structured a little bit in the way that you’d find a music festival, in that there’s, if you can imagine a music festival has stages, this has multiple events all happening simultaneously in different venues, so you’re presented with a map and a choice of one of five events every hour or so that you can go and see, and you’ve got to choose between events, make up your mind. And they’re all pretty cool events it’s quite a hard choice to make.
C And the venues are quite small so its not guaranteed that you’ll get in, they’re not ticketed. So if you can’t get into your first choice, you can always go to your second or your third.
R: So we’d better hurry to paramount if we want to catch our first event, RAD talks.
J. So here we are at Paramount Cinema. Stop here for a while. It looks pretty busy. I’ll go inside and see what’s what. Wait out here a moment.
R: OK Joel, see you soon. So yeah, the event here is called RAD talks. The idea is that they’re like TED talks, but tackling more radical ideas. The organizer thought TED talks were a bit too restrictive, too tame, so they invited speakers who wanted to shake things up a bit.
J: Hi you two, bad news. The guy said it’s completely packed out, we can’t get in. Not even standing room.
R: That’s a shame – I guess Andy warned us, these events get really popular. Maybe if we listen really carefully, we can hear a hit of what’s going on inside.
[1 min field recording]
R: Let’s carry on. Luckily there’s another event I think we should go to, at Hashigo Zake.
J: That’s on lower Taranaki street, yes?
R: That’s right. Let’s keep moving on down Courtney place: we’re heading to Taranaki Street.
J: We’ll catch up with you soon.
Cross the Road
J: Cross the road here at this crossing, and keep on heading down towards Taranaki Street.
R. There are events happening everywhere in LitCrawl, for example: there are some sessions down at 17 Tory, which is down the street to your right. So much great stuff, but we can’t see it all! Carry on for another block now down Courtney place. But down there there’s a session called Real Life, with six writers reading poetry that draws from their own life experience.
J: There’s also an event by all the poets from the Hoopla series.
Take a Right
J: We’ll take a right onto Taranaki Street, here. We’re walking down to a bar called Hashigo Zake.
J: It's a little underground, literally underground craft beer bar just off lower Taranaki Street. Here’s Andy again:
A.Funnily enough, apparently Hashigo Zake means pub crawl.
C.Oh wow. I didn’t know that.
A.I always thought of it as kind of niche, cult, fairly sophisticated sort of a bar, and I’ve got these Japanese friends, and I was saying ‘have you been to Hashigo Zake’ and they go ‘no no we haven’t. And I’m going ‘oh it’s actually quite a cool bar you’ll probably like it’ and they knew what it means in Japanese. So they thought it sounded to them like some kind of yobbo bar. (laughs)
R: Lost in translation I guess. See you at the bar.
R. So this is Hashigo Zake. We’ll through those doors here and go inside… head down the steps, careful, they’re a bit steep… and the session is down here and on the right, in this room here.
[decent sized pause in the audio]
[Fade event sound in]
J: Wow, it’s packed… see if you can find somewhere to sit down…
R: The performers are over there in the corner, by the picture of the WW2 fighter plane… Are you ok down there on the floor Joel?
J: Yes, good, I can kind of see. It’s so hot in here! So crowded!
R: The speaker up there now is Pip Adam, who’s been involved in those creative writing sessions in New Zealand prisons. Let’s have a listen to her explain why she does what she does.
[Field recording, 3mins]
J: Let’s move on now, head outside, and we’ll go to another session. Make your way outside, head back up Taranaki Street, and we’re heading towards the Chocolate Factory on Eva street.
Cross the Park
Cross over the road here, you want to cross over Pigeon Park towards the far corner. You’ll end up on Dixon Street.
Six Barrel Soda
J. Okay, now we need to go up the little alley to your left. We’re going to go past another venue, Six Barrel Soda, just up ahead at the entrance to Eva Street. You'll see a little Six Barrel Soda sign just on the wall.
You can see up in the windows there’s people drinking soda, presumably. And looking down at the hipsters down in Memphis Belle.
R: Now carry on and head up Eva street.
Wellington Chocolate Factory
J: Here we are. You should be able to see Goldings, and the Wellington Chocolate Factory, right there on your left. It’s a great little precinct these days. There’s a bakery, Fix and Fogg do their peanut butter there. Pizza Pomodoro, I think it’s a really nice spot. Well worth hanging around for an explore.
R: Let’s head inside the Wellington Chocolate Factory for Fever.
J: Go inside now, through the doors there.
[fade in event sound]
Wow it’s so full again! The place is packed.
R: The speakers are set up down there in front of the window, opposite the counter. People sitting on the floor. If there’s room at that big table, grab a seat.
J: The smell’s intense. Like cocoa mixed with sweaty feet. Who’s speaking? Oh so someone’s just finished, so it’s James brown now, with a poem exploring fever...
[[[Field recording 2-5 mins]]]
J. That was great! Lets carry on, and head back down Eva Street, we’ll give Arty Bees a look-see.
[Fade event sound out]
R: Head back to the bottom of Eva Street, and cross the road and go past the public toilets. We need to go all the way back to the park, and cross straight over it.
Turn left into Manners Street
So cross over the park, and take a left into Manners Street. We’re going to Arty Bees.
R. Have a look to your left, there's a shop with a big yellow bee on it. Stop here for a moment. So this is Arty Bees, one of Wellington’s more brightly coloured and iconic book shops.
J: And the event that’s happening here is called ‘Scientia’ or ‘Knowledge’. And the idea here is that scientists and poets are kind of coming together and sharing the different ways that they sort of strive to find truth in the world from their kind of different backgrounds.
R: But it looks pretty packed out... everyone’s crowded in that lower part, and there’s someone talking up in the upper level there. Never seen so many people in Arty Bees before! Let’s just see what we can hear from out here.
[Audio snippet 1min]
J: I know, let’s head up to the session at Pegasus Books, on Left Bank off Cuba Street. That session’s outdoors so there’ll be more space.
R: Arightly then, let's keep walking past Arty Bees.
Cnr Cuba and Manners
J: Take a left here and head up Cuba Street
R: There’s so many different events on – true stories being told at City Gallery, Poetry up on Mount Victoria.
J: Not to mention the literary pub quiz at LBQ and slam-style poetry over at Meow. Along with events up at Ferret Books and Alastairs Music.
R: It’s a really busy festival! Let’s carry on up Cuba street.
Carry on up Cuba
J. Keep heading up Cuba Mall. So we’re heading toward Pegasus Books on left bank, which from this direction will be on your right. And I’m going to hand over to Claire now to tell you a little bit about the session we’re heading too.
C. ...and it is seven amazing poets from pacific island or Maori descent or… and South American too I think… actually this session is so awesome. They’re going to all be… [name] is a chocolatier in another life and she’s created chocolate bars from each of the writers with their poetry that they’ll read inside the wrappers. So at the session, maybe I shouldn’t give it away… they’ll unwrap their choc-lit bar and read from their chocolate. And they're all kind of brown girls with a really interesting range of perspectives. One is Coco Solid who a few people will have heard of I think, she’s a rapper as well, one’s Faith Wilson who is a really amazing young poet. Coutenay [something] Meredith, another young poet and playwright now, she’s got a script in development. And Iness, who I mentioned before, and a couple of others. It’ll be a really interesting session. And I think what we’re going to do is things are going to be based in Pegasus but they’ll actually perform just outside in that kind of courtyard area, so we can manage a larger crown for this one.
Keep heading up Cuba street.
Turn right onto Left Bank
R.OK we’re going to turn right just up ahead, here. Pegasus books is in there a little way. In we go.
-R: And there’s a big crowd of people here too, all gathered around the speaker, who’s standing in front of the shop. Looks like we’re here a bit late, but it doesn’t matter.
-J: We’ll just stand here at the back, at the top of the steps by this strange little square building here. Or you can sit if you like. You should be able to hear ok.
-R: Who’s this performing now? I can’t quite see… Oh, its Faith Wilson! Fantastic!
-[Field recording, Faith Wilson, 2-5 mins]
-J: Did you get some chocolate? Hope so.
-R: Well, that’s the last session of LitCrawl. What a whirlwind! We hope you enjoyed this little slice of the festival, and you can make it along to the next one!