You are invited to take a front row seat when author and poet Valerie Volk launches her latest verse novel “Passion Play” at the Queensland Poetry Festival.

In the 1630s the populations of large areas of Europe were decimated by bubonic plague. The small southern German village of Oberammergau was, like the surrounding areas, attacked, in spite of the inhabitants’ efforts to isolate their village from the outside world. Desperate to stop the deaths, the inhabitants vowed to present an annual Passion Play as thanks to God if he saved them from the plague.

Each ten years this Passion Play is still performed, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors from throughout the world during its six month season. People who come may be seen as a modern equivalent to medieval pilgrims, almost like the Chaucerian group whose four day travels to Canterbury are recorded in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Passion Play is a verse novel that tells of a parallel group of assorted twenty-first century characters who join a four day tour from Munich to Oberammergau to attend the event. Unlike Chaucer’s pilgrims, who told invented stories to entertain themselves on the trip, these travellers tell their own personal stories, sometimes in conversation with others, more often in internal thought about their lives.

Valerie Volk is a South Australian writer who has been a tertiary lecturer, secondary teacher, and education program director for most of her professional life. Her writing career began in childhood and has continued intermittently but, until now, always pushed into the background while life took over. Now writing has become a way of life. Since retiring, she has established herself and won awards as a writer of short fiction, verse novels and poetry, with three books published and many shorter pieces in anthologies, journals and magazines.

On Friday 15 November Avid Reader Bookshop will host a salon event with Valerie Volk in conjunction with the Queensland Poetry Festival, call 3846 3422 to book tickets.