Exciting poetry coming down a slip road – Swindon Festival of Poetry launch

5 Sep

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The great thing about being a chronicler is that on the one hand I can write whatever I like (as long as it isn’t defamatory and all the words are wrote proper) but on the other I feel part of the team.

So going to the Swindon Festival of Poetry launch today at Swindon Arts Centre was a chance to catch up with wordsmithing friends.

Co-organisers Michael was skinnier and Hilda wore glasses (and looked tired, apparently from too much of a good thing the night before at a poetry event, where her new, funny material earned her the compliment ‘proper spoken word’), Swindon 105 broadcaster Sam looked beefier and beardier, workshop leader Heather (Bardwell O’Neill are Game, Sun 6 October) had, like me, a cute four month old in tow, poet Neil is no longer part of the Marlborough Massive (ie me and him) and is a repatriated Swindonian. Co-organiser Matt looked, well, just the same. Must be all the running he does.

The Second Swindon Festival of Poetry is like the Little Sister who gets bigger and threatens to take over the Swindon Festival of Literature, its older sibling, said Matt in his introduction. (This is the kind of analogy my seven year son can now relate to.) The Poetry Fest is not quite an epic two weeker yet but its four days (3-6 October) contain an action packed programme.

And, yes, action packed and poetry do go together – there is Poetry Rhyme Time for the little ones and A Wood Magic Story Walk; the eccentric Vintage Bus Tour around the low-highlights of Swindon, all 5 October. Plus family fun in Bardwell O’Neill are Game, Sun 6 October. And – so Matt’s been told – veteran poet and national institution Roger McGough (4 October) is as fast as a whippet.

The festival brochure cover is classic Michilda (or Michael AKA Barry and Hilda AKA Mabel) – a beautiful landscape shot of the M4, around junction 15. This isn’t more Vintage Bus tomfoolery. Well maybe a bit. It’s to do with an all day drop-in and out event on Friday 4th – Up the Junction! – “A metaphorical day trip of poems and places along the M4 corridor…Come and enjoy the exciting poetry coming down a slip road to you!” This is the kind of thing that can be gotten away with in Swindon and Would Not Happen In Marlborough.

There was a big loss to the poetry world last week of course. Matt paid tribute by reading the late Seamus Heaney’s Digging. And I was proper impressed when BBC Wiltshire DJ Mark O’Donnell finished off the speeches – extolling us to write via a bit of Heaney paraphrasing: “Between your finger and your thumb / The squat pen sits. / Please dig with it.”

And, Hilda, I’m going to hold you to the implicit promise of what NOT to expect of The Second Swindon Festival of Poetry, as heard in your recitation of Roger McGough’s An Ordinary Poetry Reading: “Tonight will be an ordinary poetry reading / A run-of-the-mill kind of affair. / Nothing that will offend or challenge. / No language as far as I’m aware.”

Swindon Festival of Poetry runs from 3-6 October. Visit swindonfestivalofpoetry.co.uk and keep reading this Festival Chronicle of course.

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2 Responses to “Exciting poetry coming down a slip road – Swindon Festival of Poetry launch”

  1. amaatk123 5th September 2013 at 8:56 pm #

    Hello. I did a wee write up of last year’s poetry bus on my blog:http://swindonian.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/ten-things-i-like-about-swindon-no-2-arts-and-culture/

  2. Festival Chronicler 5th September 2013 at 9:35 pm #

    An acid trip without the acid. Yep, that sums it up!

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