Archive by Author

Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art. —Andy Warhol

9 May

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Thrust from the mellow harp strings and oboe world of Classic FM into the writhing snake-pit of arts funding, Darren Henley is a man who relishes a challenge.

Three years into his role as Chief Executive of Arts Council England, Henley is unenviably sandwiched between the downward pressure of the hands of government and the desperate grubby fingers of the arts community.

One wants return on investment the other creative freedom. Continue reading

Think! It’s the Law.

13 May

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The always intriguing Think Slam posed answers and gave questions in its usual, unusual way.

A packed Arts Centre seemed thankful for the thinkful competitors whose bravery in the face of thought never ceased to amaze.

Sara-Jane Arbury introduced the 8th ‘Think Slam’ incarnation and was quick to point out that the Swindon Festival of Literature hosts the only event of its kind in the country.

A chill must have coursed the collective spines of the Think Slammers as philosopher Stephen Law was press-ganged into the role of judge supremo – his latest book is Believing Bullshit: How Not To Get Sucked Into An Intellectual Black Hole.

But bullshitters these thinkers were not, as they presented a typically varied and at times surprising window on their world. Each competitor had a three-minute time slot in which to make their argument in the most effective way possible.

John Yates, a self-identifying Remainer still stunned by BREXIT got proceedings underway with a suggestion that a byproduct of dramatic political change could be the dismantling of our political system. Continue reading

We need to talk about the Donald

9 May

The cat fancying bright orange elephant in the room didn’t take long to be exposed as Lionel Shriver drew parallels between the disappointing present and the dystopian future she imagines in her latest novel The Mandibles.

‘Since Donald Trump became president the dystopian novel has become popular for some reason’ said the American with a wicked glint in her eye.

Dystopian novels, she argues, are not about the future but about what people are afraid of in the present.

Her case is compelling, Shriver is a writer at the top of her game, peppering her talk with sardonic sideswipes and dark humour in conjuring the background to the genesis of The Mandibles.

Fake news and a Mexican border wall both feature in the novel which was written in those halcyon days before Trump had even entered the running for The White House.

Shriver has seen the future and it’s not a pretty sight. 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

The one that didn’t get away

8 Oct

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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

‘She wasn’t an easy person to work with wasn’t Hylda’

8 Oct

That’s Hylda Baker of course.

Well it is according to Keith Hutson who staggered onto the Arts Centre stage on the wrong end of a theatrical push.

With a writing career encompassing Les Dawson skits and Coronation Street episodes and an enthusiasm as contagious as a double entendre titter, Keith read poems delighting in the days of Music Hall.

‘Tom Platt and his Talking Pond’ got an early mention, a mention that needs mentioning more often,’Tom Platt and his Talking Pond’ ponder that.

When will we hear the like again?

‘A lot of their acts were bloody awful but that made them all the better’ says Keith, whose brilliant delve into the nether regions of a simpler, more complicated, life, earned its own wolf whistles and guffaws.

There were tales of everything, from the tragic to the tremendous; Lottie Collins who literally danced herself to death, Ronnie, whistling, ‘in a state of grace’, to Marilyn Monroe.

The tragi-comic nature of Keith Hutson material coupled with faultless delivery, showcased a brilliant sequence of poems which scored a direct hit on both heart-strings and funny bone.

Keith Hutson’s Troopers took place at Swindon Arts Centre, 8 October 2016, part of Poetry Swindon Festival.
His poems have just been released in the pamphlet,
Routines, published by Poetry Salzburg.

Chronicle written by Michael Scott.

Ourselves and the Shoemaker

8 Oct

file_000Anybody who thinks poetry is a load of cobblers should listen to Linda Black and Carrie Etter, the poetic inhabitants of very different worlds but each with their own sparse word outlook.

Co-editor of Long Poem Magazine and a brilliant illustrator, Linda Black read first from her Shearsman collection Slant and took us on a dazzling trip into the dark woods of language alongside Elizabeth Bishop and Virginia Woolf.

With footwear that evidenced a special relationship with the Shoemaker himself, Linda led us her way. Continue reading