From cuneiform to graffiti – Swindon Festival of Literature has all writing bases covered

16 Mar

As Swindon Festival of Literature inches towards its quarter century, different methods of written communication – from the oldest to the very recent – will be celebrated this year.

Unveiling the 2017 programme at Swindon Library today (Thursday, March 16) festival director Matt Holland mused on how the way we use writing to communicate our thoughts is changing.

“In a digital world where the currency of topical commentary can be successfully and powerfully compressed into 140 characters – definitely a great method of instant communication – the book is still doing remarkably well,” he said. Continue reading

Andra Simons

14 Oct
Andra Simons

Andra Simons

Andra Simons blew me away.

The last poet to read at Poetry Swindon Festival – poetry was actually banned after him – and it felt a fitting send off.

“I heard him and thought he was special and wanted to share him,” said director, Hilda. This is the job of an artistic director as far as I’m concerned – to have impeccable taste.

Andra is from Bermuda; he yelled, he repeated words into a rhythm, he smeared facepaint all over his poetry film, he mentions LGBT issues, and showed his love for his mom.

Andra’s work could have been a tirade of bitterness. He’s the son of an illegitimate child who was called ‘the bastard’ at school – by the teachers – and it was assumed that neither Andra’s father or his offspring would amount to anything. Continue reading

Poetry publication advice

13 Oct
Nia Davies

Nia Davies of Poetry Wales

Poets, how can you get your poem in print?

Nine Arches Press and Under the Radar editor, Jane Commane, and Poetry Wales magazine editor, Nia Davies, was in conversation with poet, reviewer and lecturer, Dr Carrie Etter, at Poetry Swindon Festival.

Here’s their thoughts:

Q. How much time should a poet leave before chasing an editor regarding their poetry submission for publication?
A. Give a month longer than the time period specified by the publication. No one will penalise you for (gently) enquiring after the fate of your poem. Both Under the Radar and Poetry Wales use online process Submittable, which visibly tracks the progress of the poem with the editor. Continue reading

Dogs and cats

11 Oct

I am Dog.

It is the final day of Poetry Swindon’s festival. For an entire week, I have stood silently in the Tent-Palace of the Delicious Air, watching and listening as poets spin colours from words. Now I leave my china body and send my spirit out across the festival.

Focus…

I am in the Richard Jefferies Museum. Daljit Nagra’s masterclass has begun. There is a fine table covered in sleek green leather. Daljit sits at one end, like a friendly teacher. Like a friendly headmaster.

Some of the students are established poets. Others are relatively new to the poetry world. One, in particular, feels like a pretender. The word “master” is not a term he identifies with.

Focus… Continue reading

Finale it’s happened to me

9 Oct

 

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Right in front of my face and it’s poetry.

The end.

I’ve lost my bloody hat but in the grand scheme of things who cares?

Writes Domestic Cherry veteran Barry Dicks from his surveillance vehicle.

I had it when I was installing my CCTV in that psychedelic tent of theirs.

I’m over the road, the Texaco Garage, in Roy’s van.

I’m in the back with my bank of 3 widescreen Bright House tellies, one blinking like a Belisha beacon.

It doesn’t make for interesting viewing but I’m watching the Festival Finale/Domestic Cherry Party which has started with a loose and wayward open-mic hosted by the cheerily sardonic Sam Loveless. Continue reading

When your mother calls you smart she doesn’t mean it as a compliment

9 Oct

Mona Arshi was really pleased to be at Poetry Swindon Festival. ‘I wanted to come here for so long,’ she said, looking around at the Tent-Palace, ‘This is beautiful.’

She brought her husband and two daughters. The older of the two also looks smiley-faced but the younger lounges on a pouffe with her coat mostly covering her face. Mums are meant to be embarrassing but when your mother is a poet who dedicates her work to you, that’s another level, ‘When your mother calls you smart she doesn’t mean it as a compliment.’ Continue reading

The one that didn’t get away

8 Oct

Ken Evans.jpg

Ken Evans – 2016 Battered Moons Competition Winner

I am the wastepaper basket under the desk of a tired poetry competition judge and I’m full.

I’m waiting for the black bag to come again to release me from this heavy weight of 40% hope and 60% despair that has me brimming over. 

But this time it’s different, I can sense a poem being uncrumpled, flattened out and reconsidered.

It is, of course, the winning poem and I am glad to give back for once.

Daljit Nagra hasn’t got to where he’s got to without being a disarmingly honest and funny bloke. Continue reading