Lit Fest is an annual event at Durston House which celebrates literature and the spoken word. The theme of this year’s Lit Fest was ‘Around the World in Eighty Books’. This theme is clearly inspired by the adventure novel, Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, published in 1872.
In assembly, Middle and Upper School attempted to travel around the world in 80 days by voting for the best route to take around the globe. Choices were restricted to Victorian modes of transport, just like in the book Around the World in Eighty Days. Pupils did not quite make it around the world in 80 days – they took a bit longer – but they had lots of fun deciding which route would prove to be the most reliable and efficient.
Wendy Shearer, a professional storyteller, visited Durston House to run workshops with Y3 – Y8. Wendy specialises in telling stories from her Afro-Caribbean heritage and stories about ancient Greek heroes, gods and goddesses. Wendy told the story of ‘Kweku Anansi and the Unknown Challenge’. In traditional Afro-Caribbean storytelling, the storyteller is the leader, and the audience also acts as a chorus. Wendy opened the story with the leader’s call, ‘Crick!’ and in response the pupils cried in unison, ‘Crack!’ This is taken by the leader as a sign that the audience are ready to hear the story. Wendy stopped at critical moments in the narrative and asked pupils to predict what happened next. Boys were captivated by Wendy’s lively and entertaining storytelling.
The following day, we were visited by Candy Gourlay, author of Tall Story, Bone Talk and Shine. For Middle School, Candy talked about Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese explorer credited with discovering the Philippines. Candy discussed the lesser-known story of Enrique, Magellan’s servant, the first Filipino to circumnavigate the globe. For Upper School, Candy presented a talk called ‘The Hero’s Journey’. The hero is the recognisable central character in literature, who is called from their ordinary world on an adventure. Candy also talked about her journey as a writer, moving from the world of journalism in her native Philippines to becoming a professional author in London. Candy’s presentation was fascinating and inspiring.
The last day of Lit Fest started with the Verse Speaking Finals. These took place for respective parts of the school at assemblies. We were treated to a wonderful selection of poetry chosen by the finalists, who impressed with their thoughtful and moving recitals. In the afternoon, boys in Middle and Upper School took part in an Inter-Form Challenge consisting of literary puzzles and codebreakers. Each Form was also challenged to plot a route around the world using atlases and journey times researched on the internet. Pupils enjoyed the teamwork and problem solving immensely.
Lit Fest 2022 was a triumph, and we are already looking forward to next year!
Mrs Barnes, Head of English