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The unusual questions

5 Oct

Poetry Swindon Festival opened at Artsite*, in Swindon’s artistic centre which in the almost-city’s inimitable fashion consists of a tiny theatre, a large theatre, a computer museum, the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, a couple of kebabs shops and a nail bar.

From the outside, Poems Aloud set off like a religious gathering**, passersby looking in, wondering what was this self-assuming event and if they should investigate or pass on by the other side.

The usual questions were posed from paper, book and phone. Was/is Philip Larkin misogynistic? The dilemma when you’re asked to write an ecological-biased poem about bees and it ends up as a bee dress. (There were two bee poems, though the bee in the second one had a sad ending, for the bee anyway). Is it ok for shops to begin ‘celebrating’ Christmas in October? How to deal with office romances? Whether good melancholy is a substitute for a happiness? And is a love poem for Swindon possible? (yes)

Outside was the Poetry Pram, inviting cooing adults to adore the poems within. And there were hats.

*A little birdy told me why it wasn’t at the usual venue of Central Library––’they wanted to charge us! For doing the Council’s job of providing free culture!’

**Thanks to Robert Stredder for this observation.

Written by Louisa Davison

Poems Aloud took place at Artsite, Swindon, 5 October 2017, as part of Poetry Swindon Festival


Migraine demons and the first ever caricature

4 May
Irving Finkel

Festival Director, Matt Holland with Irving Finkel (right) ©Calyx Picture Agency

Dr Irving Finkel doesn’t like to say he works in a museum. Not because he hates his job, on the contrary, Irving believes he works in the ‘best museum in the world, in the best job in the museum.’ The museum being the British Museum and the job being the cuneiform tablet curator. So why the reticence? Because people then expect him to be ‘dusty and boring’.

I’m pretty sure that anyone who meets Irving would have their expectations adjusted within 30 seconds. He is more one man show than monotone lecturer, adopting different accents in a talk punctuated by finger jabbing, foot stamping and casual swearing. He speaks many languages and exclamation marks feature in all of all of them. Continue reading

Graffiti rains supreme at Upfest Bristol

4 Jun

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This week, they’ve all been talking about the Queen in Bedminster. But not Elizabeth; it’s Mary Portas, Queen of Shops, and her promise to help revitalise the tatty post-war shopping centre who has got people excited.

But whatever Queen Mary brings to the party, I wonder if it will do as much to enliven the area, or to bring as many people to South Bristol, as Upfest, Europe’s biggest street art festival, where the streets were alive with the smell of spray paint yesterday.

There was a gaggle (?) of graffiti artists from all over the world of all ages, shapes and sizes spraying walls, boards, shop fronts, beer gardens, beards (saw a pink one) and of course a New York subway train.

Continue reading