It’s been a busy September, and October doesn’t look any different. In other words, everything normal!
The events in Segovia have been covered, more or less, by the blogs posted on the Teaching English website but let’s put a bit of wrap around that. The event was the Hay Festival in Segovia. The Hay Festival started life in the small Welsh town of Hay on Wye, and has grown to be one of the most important literature festivals in the UK.
So successful was the Hay Festival that the organisers decided it ought to go on holiday, and the principal mover of the whole affair, Peter Florence, decided to take it to places he liked and that had strong cultural links. Segovia in Spain and Cartagena de Indias in Colombia were chosen first, and both have been running hugely successful international literature festivals as a result ever since. From 2010 and into 2011 new countries are joining in – Maldives, India, Mexico and Kenya are hosting Hay events.
In 2008 BritLit became involved in the first teachers’ event based in the festival in Segovia. It was a simple one day affair, and was conducted more or less as a fringe activity rather than being in the main programme, but Peter Florence himself came along to see what was what and gave an enthusiastic thumbs up. The first event involved a little under 100 teachers and three writers – an English author of children’s books, Michael Morpurgo, and two Welsh poets, Gillian Clarke and Owen Sheers. A series of mini BritLit kits were made for the event.
In 2010 we decided to expand the activity by running some events from school children and over two days around 500 children from Segovia, Madrid and as far afield as Zamora came to hear two of the finest writers of children’s literature talk – Melvin Burgess and Beverley Naidoo. You can read what happened here and here .
We then held another one day workshop for teachers, and again something approaching 100 very enthusiastic and very lively teachers came along and worked with Fitch O’Connell and Sinéad Russell from the British Council for the whole day, and Melvin and Beverley in the afternoon. You can read about that here . One of the significant differences from 2008 was that we were now officially part of the main Hay Festival programme. You can see the photos of the Hay events, taken by Alberto Roldán of the Spanish paper La Razón. here. You can follow the blog of BC Spain’s Communications Manager here and here. You can read a more personal interpretation of one side event here!
One of the results of this successful activity will be to take the lessons learned from running the teacher’s event to Hay in Cartagena in January 2011. Hopefully from there it will start become a natural feature of the Hay Festival programme throughout the world. This helps to resolve what has become a perennial problem – how to get authors to schools. We know from experience how tremendously successful and effective these visits are, but no one has the money to make this anything but an occasional or exceptional event. Shame. But if we can harness the activities of literature festivals, book fairs and publishers around the world with a successful model then perhaps we can, at least, get the schools to go to the authors. There’s an ambition.
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