Sliproad Poetry – Up the Junction! at Swindon Festival of Poetry

6 Oct

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Yesterday I went down the M4. Well, physically I crossed the great divide of the M4 from the Marlborough side to the Swindon side. But poetically I travelled from Bristol to London, being a bit late for Swansea and Cardiff.

Up the Junction!, part of the Swindon Festival of Poetry, was the loose theme for sticking a bunch of poets together in a room (at the impressive youth centre The Platform) for a large chunk of the day. And it worked in the same way cabaret works – some you like, some you don’t and some passes you by.

At this point I must share that I took my (almost) six month old along and, as any parent will tell you, things tend to revolve around them. Sometimes because I have to tend to her needs, sometimes because I realise I’ve been stroking her head and not paid much attention to anything else.

Heather, who had her third child a couple of weeks after mine, was there with baby in tow. We are both pretty tired. ‘Are you getting much of this?’ I think she asked me, or I asked her. ‘Sometimes I catch a line I like, or one I don’t. Both good,’ she said.

And it’s not just the mums getting distracted by the babies. At least five poets had a cuddle. Carrie Etter – ex-pat Illinoian, Bath Spa University lecturer and Bradford on Avon resident – grinned widely as she held Sydney, mouthing to me: ‘you made this perfect person.’

Heather and I agreed that tired mums with babies in tow were probably in the market for some invigorating performance poetry, rather than softly spoken soporific stanzas.

But some of it sank in.

Such as Carrie’s moving verses on the death of her father, especially the line, ‘when did my father get old?’

Or Josephine Corcoran from Trowbridge and the first time I’ve heard the closed Bowyers factory in a poem (I worked there when I was eighteen, when it was open obv.).

Jaqueline Saphra has just finished a stint as a London Underground poet in residence. I say ‘stint’ because she described herself ‘frazzled’, having recited poetry like a busker at the bottom of an escalator to London tourists and commuters with places to be. After having endured comments like ‘you’d be better off with Keats and Shelley’, Jaqueline appreciated the quiet, attentive audience at Up the Junction!. (I tried not to think about my loud guzzling, belchy baby!) I liked her clear delivery of slightly naughty poems.

And Rosa Matheson brought four lady poets, representing the ‘International Women of Swindon’, hailing from Spain, Hungary, Germany and India. This idea originated in a book project called ‘A Day in the Life of 100 Women in Britain’ where the proceeds go to educating and empowering Nepalese women. Read about it at

One Response to “Sliproad Poetry – Up the Junction! at Swindon Festival of Poetry”


  1. Sliproad Poetry – Up the Junction! at Swindon Festival of Poetry | Festival Chronicle | Born again Swindonian - 6th Oct 2013

    […] from the pen of Festival Chronicle – more musings on activities of versification in the 2013 Swindon festival of poetry. Because, as […]

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