A tale of two sessions

By Christy O’Brien

Conversations at writers festivals can be both uplifting and challenging and La Trobe University’s Dr Scott Alterator will take part in both at this week’s Bendigo Writers Festival as he hosts a stellar poetry reading and a conversation on the current euthanasia debate.

Scott, who is a lecturer in the School of Education at La Trobe University, will host three Puncher & Wattman published poets, Judy Johnson, Martin Langford and David Musgrave – who will each read from their work.

Promoting poetry is a passion for Scott, who believes it “is one of the highest forms of the craft”.

“To be able to communicate an idea with verve and feeling in a condensed form takes much crafting,” Scott says.

“I have been lucky to chat with many talented and generous poets at the festival across the years and I’m really looking forward to the session… we’re lucky to have them in town.”

Scott is also coordinator of the Vox Bendigo Fyffe Award, which showcases both essay writing and poetry. He is an enthusiastic participant in many cultural events throughout the country and thrives on the promotion of ideas and debate.

“To be able to contribute to an event of this nature in my own town is fantastic,” he says. “I also enjoy the backstage pass that being involved provides, but mostly I’m in it for the exchange of ideas.”

You can also catch Scott on Sunday in conversation with long-time president of Dying with Dignity Victoria, Rodney Syme. This important and timely conversation will discuss a clear path through the emotional minefield that is the ethics of euthanasia.

Rodney became a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1964 and his book, A Good Death (2008) describes experiences in providing advice and medication to relieve suffering at the end of life.

In his session Going Strong, Scott will discuss Rodney’s latest work Time to Die, and explain how imperative it is to hear a voice that “has made measured and insightful contributions to a debate often riddled with overly emotive posturing”. 

“At a time when our politicians are poised to make a reasoned consideration of the central issues Rodney’s work stands amongst the highest standard of contributions,” Scott says.

“It’s important to note that his contribution stretches beyond the current political and media attention. For many years he has provided care for people in dire need of support and understanding. It seems to me that understanding is a feature of Rodney’s work as a writer and a doctor that may yet prove decisive as the debate unfolds in coming months.”

Scott will host Voices Poetry Readings on Saturday from 4-5pm in the Engine Room and his conversation with Rodney Syme will take place at Capital’s Bendigo Bank Theatre on Sunday from 4-5pm. Visit www.bendigowritersfestival.com.au for more info.

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