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Festival Testimonials

Read the incredible feedback from attendees of the 2023 Sorrento Writers Festival.

There was so much to love about the Sorrento Writers Festival, but here’s what matters: I spoke with several audience members who’d never been to a writer’s festival before. And they loved it. They each left the session excited by books, and ideas, and stories. For me, introducing the most democratic of art forms to regional Victorians was the best part of the weekend.

When the concept of the Sorrento Writers Festival was presented to Kay & Burton, it immediately struck a chord. Words mattered to me. Despite being in its embryonic form, I felt confident Corrie Perkin’s idea would come to life and bring with it a contagious energy to Sorrento and the broader Mornington Peninsula. Kay & Burton simply had to be involved and our founding partnership was quickly formed. As the Director of Kay & Burton Portsea and Sorrento, and local to the core, I feel well qualified and immensely proud to say the Sorrento Writers Festival was a resounding success. It was thought-provoking, creative, entertaining, diverse, joyful and full of community spirit. It was exactly what Sorrento needed. Corrie’s tenacity, passion and experience was evident from the outset and given the calibre of talent attracted, and the support garnered, the festival had impressive reach - far beyond the local level. As well as the inclusive community engagement, the economic benefit and the potential to grow tourism around the festival is truly exciting. The decision to become involved in the inaugural Sorrento Writers Festival is one that I will reflect on in years to come; grateful that Kay & Burton contributed to an idea that became a bestseller.

What a fabulous, inspiring, thought provoking festival you hosted. It was such a lovely environment to immerse oneself in - everyone was friendly, inclusive and genuinely thrilled to be there. I was particularly delighted with the way the Voice was received. Thomas Mayo is a star. As is Corrie. Actually she is an entire galaxy.

I have been a guest (as both a writer and an interviewer) at literary festivals all over Australia, and internationally (Edinburgh, Toronto, Blue Metropolis in Montreal, Cheltenham, Berlin, Auckland, Wellington) but I have never attended an inaugural festival as I did recently at the Sorrento Writers Festival. It was both impressive and exciting to see the crowds of people, both locals and those who travelled to attend, absolutely enjoying the events on offer and watching their favourite writers in person. Several people told me his was their first ever writers festival, and were enthusiastic to come to the next one. They had been introduced to the work of writers they hadn't explored before and were keen to dip into their books. As a writer I was gratified to see the throngs in the bookshop with several books in their pile, waiting patiently for the cash register. The range of writers, the depths of conversations, and the enthusiasm of the organisers and volunteers made this an exceptional event.

Quite simply the Sorrento Writers Festival was one of the greatest organic community experiences I’ve seen. I had the pleasure of being involved in a panel discussion of sportswriting, breaking stories and debate that could have easily been televised live, but with the intimacy and involvement of people who love the game and a few who don’t who enjoyed the experience. But my more salient points come from some helicopter observations. Every bar, restaurant and shop was filled and doing great business all weekend. I spoke to a young couple who had just opened an “all day breakfast restaurant.” They told me the festival was a godsend. Full all day, people discussing symposiums they had attended or were about to, VIP’s visitors and locals meandering around and buying everything insight. The epitome of economic impact. An event that exemplified Victoria’s reputation as the “Cultural Capital of Australia”, in a unique environment that fostered support for traders, hotels and the wider community with its philanthropic endeavours. No security, no drama, exciting, exhilarating and a stand-out event for an oft-forgotten significant demographic. Delivered with elan, while being welcoming to all. Corrie Perkin and her team delivered a literary, cultural tour de force……and it was great fun.

As a Sydney resident with long-standing connections to Sorrento I was excited by the prospect of a literary festival in the town. Whilst I had limited expectations for the inaugural event, I was blown away both by the programme and attendances. I attended seven different events over the four days and I can honestly say they were all as interesting as they were diverse in content; indeed there was something for everybody. I was also impressed by the choice and diversity of venues, some that I had never visited in my 60 years as a visitor to Sorrento. Apart from the wonderful writers’ sessions, I feel I know more about this unique area. Because of the festival I now have a better understanding of the wonderful experiences offered to children at the Portsea Camp as well as the work done at the Sorrento Museum to highlight the historical significance of this unique part of Victoria.

Just a note to thank you once again for inviting me to the festival. Massive congratulations to you and the team - what an amazing success!! One of the best festivals I’ve ever attended (and I’ve been to a few now). I hope it goes from strength to strength - it deserves to!

I thought the Sorrento Writers Festival was such a spectacular event. You could really feel the buzz in the air and I heard many people chatting together, saying how great it had been.

Dear Corrie, An absolute triumph for you and such a wonderful treat for us the punters! You dreamed big, planned huge and overcame all the obstacles to curate 4 days of interesting, stimulating, challenging sessions with expert moderators and fascinating panellists. Congratulations to you, to Eileen, the volunteers and everyone involved - what a mammoth exercise and one pulled off with smiles and good humour all around. Such a privilege to be able to listen to and chat with authors, commentators, living legends all of whom were so generous and gracious with their time. A writers festival with a particular and very special atmosphere, one I’ve not felt elsewhere. In Hebrew there is an expression “kol hakavod” which simply translated means well done, but literally “all the honour” (more honour to you). To you and to all the team - kol hakavod! Can't wait for next year.

I am writing to express my gratitude for the incredible organisation and program I enjoyed at the Sorrento Writers Festival. I am so grateful for the depth of writers I managed to enjoy. Many Thanks.

There had been so many people I’d connected with, so many interesting conversations. On Monday morning I listened to people still excitedly talking about the festival in the main street shops. Multiple times I heard about the ‘positive energy’ in the air, so it wasn’t just me. Others were inspired, we could feel there was a way forward. It involved connection, communication and mutual support.

I was extremely impressed with every aspect of the festival. The calibre and range of writers and ideas was extraordinary, and the moderators were thoughtful and engaging - testament to the respect Corrie Perkin is afforded in the literary and publishing communities. The venues were perfect, and the bookselling and signing aspect of the festival was run smoothly and efficiently. It was a wonderful opportunity for the local community, for Victorian writers and for the broader literary world. The festival appeared to be very well-supported and patronage was high - I got the impression people came from far and wide! The buzz was energising; this regional festival punched above its weight. I believe it deserves to be a regular fixture on the Sorrento calendar.

Hi Corrie, I wish to thank you and your army of volunteers who stood by the festival and believed its success would catapult it for an annual event marked on the calendar. Thank you bringing communities, visitors and writing enthusiasts together - believers of the art.

Congratulations and thank you for your vision, energy and delivery of the most successful Sorrento Writers Festival. I was fortunate enough to listen to most of the children's authors and illustrators as well as attend some amazing sessions over the weekend. It is such a thrill to hear students discussing books in the playground, running into school with books in hand and parents sharing their children's recounts of the writers and illustrators’ visits. Please pass on my thanks to the generous sponsors who supported the event, particularly the Children's Program, and the inspiring authors who visited St Joseph's School.

Writers’ festivals, in common with film festivals, music festivals and festivals for almost any reason, are as much about the people who attend them as those who create them. They have a sense of community, of common purpose, and all with the same aim: joy and enlightenment in equal measure. Festivals are markedly different from more isolated events as they tend to exist only for a few days (give or take) and occur in places that are small enough to create a captive audience and imbue their attendance with necessary intimacy and familiarity, but also sizeable enough to allow for social interaction outside the sessions - ie, with enough accommodating bars and restaurants which, in effect, become extra-curricular venues in themselves. Sorrento is such a place. One of my guiding maxims regarding festivals is this: a festival cannot simply be plonked down with the assumption that there you go, now get on with it. Festivals must evolve. They must be given the time to develop, to improve, to build on previous festivals, and to have the right to cause provocation where necessary and the duty to challenge as well as entertain their audiences. No festival can itself live in isolation. Sorrento has been launched, and is now well past the inaugural stage. But to make this happen, it needs nurturing, care and proper funding. A former director of the Edinburgh International Festival once told me that every year he had to go cap-in-hand to the pursed-lipped and tight-pursed Scottish authorities for what he called the Annual Begrudging of the Money. Luckily, maybe in spite of this, Edinburgh has been going for 75 years. Throughout the Sorrento Writers’ Festival - not just with the four sessions I moderated, but also more generally - I sensed how this was the active realisation of something that brings a community alive. Yes, it must continue to do so, but encouragement should also be supplied through official acknowledgement (ie: government and local-government funding) as well as word-of-mouth.

Don't miss this incredible event. April 25 - 28, 2024

Four days, 80+ events, 100+ writers, journalists, thinkers, historians, playwrights, singers… and a thousand conversations.

sorrento writers festival

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