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Frog on Water Steal the Bricks – Wild Whispers

6 Oct

Wild Whispers, poetry film project, began with Frog on Water, a poem by producer Chaucer Cameron about connectivity/disconnect, with the backdrop of the personal – a house move – and the political – Brexit.

She had this simple but ambitious idea (the best kind): send it out to her poetry collaborators across the globe one-by-one, to translate it, turn it into a film, and pass it on. Whispered.

I used to walk through woodland and wild garlic,
watch leap of frog, gold-green on water.

Would it be lost in translation? Well yes and no. Continue reading

On the Petticoat Front

14 May
Louise Jordan

Louise Jordan

Sunday night was not “All Quiet on the Swindon Arts Centre Front”. It was all over, not by Christmas, but by 9pm, but we craved more. Audience members had been transported back into the lives of hitherto, but no longer, forgotten heroines: women of the First World War.

Amongst others, we were evocatively introduced to these women: a scientist who designed a fan to save soldiers in trenches from enemy gas, a journalist who made it to the Front Line disguised as a man involving scouring her face to imitate shaving, munitions factory, charity-raising football teams, and spies. Continue reading

Afua Hirch’s Brit(ish) has got me wondering – am I now Brit(ish) too?

10 May
Afua Hirsch

Afua Hirsch

The mark of a good literature festival event, I reckon, is that you’re still thinking about it long after you’ve left the auditorium.

More than 36 hours after I left a talk by Afua Hirsch, my cogs are still whirring.

But why? As a white, painfully liberal male of working class stock, Brit(ish) tells me things I already know, and accept, even if I recognise that some of my compatriots struggle with it. We’ve had over half a century to get used to multiculturalism – hey, I grew up with it. I’ve checked my bones, and I’m pretty sure not one of them is even unintentionally racist. Continue reading

Thursday Afternoon and Revving …

5 Oct

The journey from London was uneventful and mainly punctuated by sheep, the Tent of the Delicious Air (aka performance space) is magical, the volunteers are lovely and I can even vouch for the baked potatoes at the Holiday Inn.

I was met at the station by the wonderful Tony Hillier, long term member and founder of the Swindon Community Poetry group, who was wearing a fez and offered me a strawberry starburst – my favourite flavour. He also took me on a quite unnecessary and exhilarating tour of The Magic Roundabout in his car – it is actually five roundabouts in one and resembles the teapot twirly ride at a funfair. Feels like poetry already.

I’ve just spent a delightful couple of hours with my poetry partner in crime Tania Hershman who’s got me all excited about her workshop tomorrow on Liberation and Constraint, two of my favourite juxtapositions in poetry. We were briefly joined by Hilda Sheehan, head honcho and brilliant poet, who looked well excited. She is especially happy to be able to offer bursaries to people who would otherwise be unable to come to the festival, and also warned us not to get run over when crossing the dual carriageway between the Holiday Inn and the Richard Jeffries Museum.

Tonight I’m looking forward to hearing the V Press poets and I’m so excited to be reading with Tania Hershman and Daljit Nagra, the festival poets in residence. I know how great they are. See you on the other side!

All fun and games at Lit Fest Families Day

7 May

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Today was World Laughter Day. Apparently, wherever you were in the world, you were supposed to laugh when the clock struck noon. The idea was to create a continuous chain of merriment around the globe. My family and I were supposed to do it, but we forgot – we were too busy having fun.

Today was also Children and Families Day at Lower Shaw Farm, at the very uncorporate headquarters of the Swindon Festival of Literature. At or around noon, children and adults piled out of a presentation by author Jack Cooke to climb one of the tallest trees on the farm.

The kids loved it, and – once they’d recovered from the initial shock of seeing their precious moppets clamber from limb to limb up a huge horse chestnut – the adults were having fun too. 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!

 

The Spirit of Keats

4 Oct

Great idea. Keats poetry set to music, threaded through with ghostly story.

The first drama was how my friend Tess could avoid the rustling of a bag of Haribos during the performance. We didn’t think they’d appreciate this added sound effect. She solved the problem by emptying the sweets into her handbag. (I hope she found all of them. Few things worse at the bottom of a handbag than old sticky sweets; perhaps bruised pears and spare toddler’s pants that fly out in a meeting when trying to find a pen – but that might just be me.)

If you know anything about poetry or remember it from school, Keats is almost certainly in the running order, so this came at it from a fresh angle.

The singing was impassioned, the piano beautiful but the story left me a little cold. Continue reading