A Walk in the Park
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There’s walking, and then there’s walking. When Lisa Dempster set out to tackle the Shikoku Pilgrimage – a 1200km, 88 temple route through regional Japan – she was at a nadir of mental and physical health; desperate for something to bring major change to her life.
As she describes the gruelling journey, laid out in her travelogue Neon Pilgrim (2009; re-launching this August), it surprised her with unexpected spiritual encounters. Yet the sense of an inner shift was still elusive and intangible – and something which only later emerged through writing about the experience.
Walking Princes Park with doctor and author Leah Kaminsky, Dempster will recount the circumstances of her adventure, and how it’s impacted her life in the near-decade since.
How will this event work?
Each attendee will have their own pair of wireless headphones (volume adjustable!). Speakers will lead the group at a slow walking pace around Princes Park, fitted with microphones. >Since this is a public park, we’ll be sharing the track with runners, dog walkers and other walkers. The headphones have a good range, so if you fall behind the group, fear not – you’ll still be able to hear the conversation up to ~150m away. Each event will run for 60 minutes, but depending on the group’s walking pace, may not complete a full circuit of Princes Park (which is 3.2km). We encourage participants to wear runners (and a raincoat if the weather is looking soggy), noting that some paths are sealed and some are sand.
Lisa Dempster is the Director of the Melbourne Writers Festival.
Leah Kaminsky, physician and award-winning writer, is Poetry & Fiction Editor at the Medical Journal of Australia. Her debut novel is The Waiting Room won the Voss Literary Prize for the best novel of 2016. We’re all Going to Die has been described as ‘a joyful book about death’. She edited Writer MD and co-authored Cracking the Code. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts.
History, and the history of great art and thinking, is rife with walkers. From flâneuring to Freud – from Wes Anderson to Marina Abramović – the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other has long been celebrated as a potent way to access the mind, the spirit, a sense of contemplation, or the most basic pleasures of being in the world.
So: how do writers and researchers use walking? How does it affect their ability to think methodically or creatively – and what can it offer to mental health?
For this unique one-day series, made up of three walks, you’re invited to eavesdrop on a roving conversation around Princes Park. On each hour-long amble, two writers will reflect on their unique relationships with walking. You’ll stroll behind them, listening in via wireless headphones. (Soggy day? Bring a raincoat!)