Archive by Author

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

You’re going to reap just what you sow

5 Oct

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Photograph © Jennifer Berry

The omens were good for Children’s Day -Word Twisting a Fine Falerie at The Richard Jefferies Museum as a dramatic jamboree of Dada ended the day before with a library dance to Lou Reed’s Perfect Day.

Things were set fair,  a beautiful setting,  amazing weather and an audience of over a hundred fun-seekers eager to find out just who Mildred, Henry and Harriet the eccentric tour-guides were.

With The Goblin Circus in residence too, a memorable day at Coate Farm seemed guaranteed.

The aforementioned eccentric tour guides were on fine form as they promenaded the museum bringing artefacts to life through words and movement.

It was jaw-dropping stuff!

‘The toilets are here here here here and here!’ they helpfully cried.

Playful, funny narration saw them tell the life of Jefferies on Long Pond in the attic before ending things in the future on the back lawn.

Past, present and future, not a bad day out so far!

But here come The Goblin Circus to tell stories and teach children to make their own goblins!

A big ladybird and ring-master engaged audiences all day.

LADLES AND JELLYSPOONS! GENTLE FOLK AND MISCHIEF MAKERS! WELCOME TO THE GOBLIN CIRCUS!!!

There were faeries, goblins, humans, elves and shapeshifters, and misfits , all just a little bit weird.

The monsters and dreamers of the circus were certainly on hand to inspire and entertain!

Then Robbie came with his drums, juggling stuff and parachute fun.

The lawn was falerie full of families trying things out.

There was also a poetry corner where children could write their own and read poems.

Beth made delicious cupcakes that all but disappeared -people were goblin them up all day for sure!