Lots of stuff. The two writers who pierced through my short attention span were short story writer and novelist, Hiromi Goto and poet Erik Lindner.
Hiromi read a short story from her collection, Hopeful Monsters. It was a story about breast feeding: both humourous and horrid at the same time. Unlike some writers, she knew very well how to choose a piece to read at an event of this nature. It's a skill to keep an audience interested, and just because someone is a good writer doesn't make him a good performer or good at knowing which of his pieces he should read. Hirmoi is a good performer. I bought her book, and am looking forward to reading it.
Melanie Little was the moderator of this Writing Life segment and she asked the question writers hate: how can you tell when you're writing a novel and a short story? Hiromi answered honestly, saying that for her when the piece stops at around the 50 page mark, it's a short story. Makes it all seem pretty obvious.
Melanie also wanted to discuss Hiromi's use of monsters in her work. Hiromi talked about how much more terrifying Japanese monsters were to her, growing up. She's read tales from around the world both as a child and as an adult. She harkened back to Wuthering Heights or Frankenstein when she said, "the monster is us. we're the monster." I look forward to reading her work.
In the poetry cabaret, the most noteworthy writer for me was Erik Lindner of the Netherlands. He read his poems in his native language and David O'Meara, the host, read each poem afterward in English. I loved hearing Erik's language and his beautiful voice, which reminded me of water gurgling beneath the ice. His poems were strong, simple and at times very sensuous. O'Meara is also a fine poet and this was obvious in his reading of Lindner's work. His inflections matched Lindner's inflections and he did the poems justice.
Alas Erik's work was not published in English yet but here's a link to some of his poems, and their translations:
I went home and wrote poems after this reading. It was truly inspiring.
Also one note about the amazing a/v technicians: simply ...they are amazing, friendly and helpful, ever so polite when a woman from the audience asks for the podium to be moved so she can see, handing a mike to the audience for the Q&A. This festival is as always a professional and inspiring event.