Beatniks and books in Batlow  

Janice Vanzella, Dick Sedgwick, and Chris Horsley at the Beatnik Cafe. For more photos see the Tuesday, July 25, edition of the Tumut and Adelong Times.

The Literary Institute of Batlow provided a perfect winter evening on Friday night: a crackling fire, a hearty supper, and poetry readings from two highly respected Australian poets.

Their Beatnik Cafe’s featured guests Melinda Smith, recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Poetry, and Victoria McGrath, shortlisted for the Newcastle Poetry Prize, had attendees “enthralled,” according to event organiser Sulari Gentill.

“We started out with a panel session where we put questions to the poets and then they read, and that was received incredibly well, people were absolutely enraptured,” she said.

“They chose a selection that was moving and meaningful and at times very humorous. A couple of hours passed without anybody noticing!

“In reply Dick Sedgwick stood up and recited a poem called Sweeney by Henry Lawson – Dick’s a wonderful reciter and performer of poetry.”

The event was held in the Supper Room of the Literary Institute, a room that hasn’t been used to entertain in twenty or thirty years, according to Ms Gentill.

“For previous Literary Institute events we’ve used part of it as a book room for sales of books, but we had so much stuff in the back of it that nobody noticed there was a fireplace! And it was lovely to see it used as what it was intended for,” she said.

Guests dined on ham, two varieties of soup, an array of bread and cheese, and truffled potatoes, followed by sticky date pudding, butterscotch pudding and chocolate mud cake. Mulled wine was also provided to keep the conversation flowing freely.

The Institute is to be congratulated on a wonderful night – but they aren’t resting just yet.

Next up is 2018’s Literary Festival, which is set to rival the fondly remembered Murder in the Mountains for intellectual entertainment.

“It’s been five years since Murder in the Mountains, and it’s taken us five years to recover!” said Ms Gentill.

“And now we think we’re ready to invite more authors back to Batlow and have another full-fledged festival.”