Town with a city heart – Swindon Festival of Literature launch

22 Mar

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The Swindon Festival of Literature has a thing for bracing days, ya know – freezing brass monkeys. It kicks off at a cold dawn in May and Thursday, a biting March day you may have noticed, was the launch, outside in a windy Swindon Central Library atrium.

The Festival likes to stimulate ‘thinking parts’ so maybe all this chilly fresh air enables our brain to fully engage and not lie indolent in the sloth-like embrace of central heating.

So, back inside the warm library, I munched on the lovely homemade launch food and thought how good it is when politicians speak from the heart rather than generic politic speak. Matt Holland, Festival director, seemed to appreciate this too because he expressed his love for guest speaker, Teresa Page, the mayor of Swindon: for her, Swindon is the town with the heart of a city; she only had one book a year at Christmas (a present from her sister); and (a girl after my own heart) she also enjoyed comics Bunty and Judy. No tired ‘cultural desert’ metaphors for the Lady Mayor. Continue reading

Swindon Drag Kings, Cwmmy Crab and more

14 Oct Featured Image -- 1552

Festival Chronicler:

Another take on the Man for A Day poetry sesh by Myfanwy Fox. It was a great day!

Originally posted on Fox Tales:

Dusty in here, isn’t it? Tch. Blog neglect due to a mixture of far more exciting things happening or laziness when things are not happening (and a fair bit of day job intervening, too).

I really should plug things before they happen but here are some recent highlights:

Swindon Poetry Festival’s Drag King finale event, performing with Diane Torr and poets/writers Clare Shaw, Rachael Clyne, Hannah Linden, Jill Abram, Juliet Platt and Louisa Davison. Diane has been running Man For A Day workshops since the ‘80s and her workshop was a tiring but fascinating full day. Men’s clothing (and strategic socks) was the least of our worries. As make up – mainly involving scarily convincing facial hair – went on we became someone different and then found ourselves trying to work out who we were, these almost-unfamiliar men. Most of us had time to visit…

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Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes

13 Oct

Festival Chronicler:

One of the Festival Chronicle ‘Man for a Day’ (Swindon Festival of Poetry) fellow woman adventurers.

Originally posted on The Journal Writer's Handbook:

One thing I know journaling is excellent for is considering other people’s perspectives and points of view. Something about our inner voice always guides us towards empathy and compassion if we listen carefully enough. There is simply nowhere to hide once we follow our journaling practice.

But we can still have blind spots borne out of ignorance. Our inner voice has little to say about things it hasn’t ever experienced. Sometimes we have to push ourselves a little bit further to fully understand what others experience.

This is what I did last week at Diane Torr’s Be a Man for the Day workshop.

I spent the day with six other women writers, none of whom I had met before. We shared our experiences of men and gender. We talked about far more that just cross-dressing. It was an exercise in poetry; in trying to understand male attitudes and behaviours by literally growing…

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I was Man for a Day at the Swindon Festival of Poetry

8 Oct

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That sounds fun, I thought, about being a man for a day. But I didn’t expect it to be such a challenge.

I don’t mean keeping the boobs flat (damn bandages kept rolling up), or keeping my ‘penis’ in place, or even perfecting the man’s walk when, essentially, a woman’s hips are different to a man’s.

Yes, these were annoying but all the women poets taking part in Diane Torr’s Man for a Day (Swindon Festival of Poetry) had these problems and it created a certain comradeship between us.

No, what was hard was knowing what kind of man I wanted to be. And this journey – for a while at least – was a lonely one. Did I want to be myself, but male? Did I want to be a man I admired? Or a man I didn’t?

Continue reading

Battered Moons at the Swindon Festival of Poetry

7 Oct

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This year’s poetry competition didn’t quite go to the moon and back but they certainly made it to the other side of the world.

Judges David Morley and Cristina Navazo-Eguia Newton both took the entries on their travels. On the plane to Australia, David shared the poems around the passengers and asked them to read the poems aloud. Cristina took hers to her native Spain.

A good proportion of the winning pieces were about birds. “I’ve got a feeling some of the entrants researched my interests,” remarked David who’s into ornithology. Continue reading

The Roof of the World at Swindon Festival of Poetry

7 Oct

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As an English white woman, I wouldn’t describe Saturday’s event – The Evening News and The Roof of the World – as a culture shock (far too gentle for that) but it was a beautifully different experience.

The spoken poetry on Saturday was in Hindi by Mohan Rana. There were no English subtitles, but this didn’t matter. I opened my mind to it like I would music or dance; a different way of understanding, enjoying the musicality of the language.

To emphasis this and compliment the poetry, Mohan had invited his friend, ‘cellist Jo Quail, to perform alongside him. Jo had previously interpreted his poem The Colour of Water (From the Sea).

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Gallery

A Rum Do!

6 Oct

Originally posted on Born again Swindonian:

Swindon Festival of Poetry 2014 – Sunday 5th October

Well. What a profound, powerful, personalised poetic jamboree that was. I’m not sure I have the words to do it justice but I’ll do what I can. I am speaking listeners of the double bill of offerings that took place today at the Museum and Art Gallery in Old Town.  In all honesty I went primarily to listen to Mike Pringle – as I know him personally from having had some involvement with the Richard Jefferies Museum over the summer. But as I had nothing special to do today and the double bill was a bargain price I figured I might as well do both and I’m very glad I did.

I can’t lie and pretend that poetry is my very favourite thing. Much like folk and country and western music there’s elements that I find interesting and affecting but overall it’s…

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