Tag Archives: book

Let’s Go Wild – Isabella Tree

8 May Isabella Tree © Fernando Bagué

Isabella Tree’s event, on her book Wilding, was all set for a cosy evening at Lower Shaw Farm’s ‘centre’, with forty or so people, cups of tea and talk of restoring a bit of balance back to the countryside.

However, the allocated tickets sold out. More were made available, and they sold too. There was no choice but shift the venue to the cowshed, with seating for a hundred. Still the tickets sold… benches were added, and more chairs dragged from all corners. By the time the talk was about to start, the cowshed was packed tighter than a, well, than a cowshed. An intensively farmed cowshed. And that’s where Isabella Tree comes in.

Isabella Tree in the Lowers Shaw Farm cowshed © Fernando Bagué
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Porritt sends a strangely familiar stand-in – Jonathon Porritt at Swindon Festival of Literature

15 May

Jonathon Porritt...or is it Alex McKay? ©Calyx Pictures

Jonathon Porritt…or is it Alex McKay? ©Calyx Pictures

So, Jonathon Porritt couldn’t make today’s event. In his stead was Alex McKay from 2050.

Alex looked a lot like Jonathon and sounded a lot like Jonathon and we were all giggling at the shared joke.

Festival Director Matt Holland confided afterwards that Jonathon arrived at Swindon Arts Centre with minutes to spare having arrived that day from some far flung place. Festival attenders arrived at the venue and saw an anxious director fretting at the lack of an author so Matt and Jonathon decided to cook up a little performance to defuse the anxiety. Continue reading

War correspondent recalls the achievements of the Great War women – Kate Adie at Swindon Festival of Literature

13 May

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Ask anyone to name a woman associated with the battlefield and you’ll get one of three answers – Joan of Arc, Florence Nightingale, or former BBC chief news correspondent Kate Adie – a veteran of Tiananmen Square, the first Gulf War, and the war in the former Yugoslavia.

Apt, then, that Kate has written a book about the women of the first world war. It’s called Fighting on the Home Front, but if the title suggests that women never made it across the Channel, let alone to the front line, then that’s far from the truth – as the author will explain later. Continue reading

We live in a story shaped world – CS Lewis

13 May

C.S.Lewis - a life by Alister McGrath

C.S.Lewis – a life by Alister McGrath

A week of the Swindon Festival of Literature has gone by and it’s at about this time that frazzled Festival types starting running out of sleep and clothes to wear, today the search for a clean T-shirt brought a lengthy, fruitless search in the bedroom, it wasn’t there of course, maybe my tired brain was lying about which wardrobe. Continue reading

Swindon Festival of Poetry – Annie Freud and Tamar Yoseloff

9 Oct

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Internet dating, talking to furniture and works of art were the poetic subjects of last night’s event, at Swindon Central Library’s poetry space.

Sylvia Novak sang and read from her book, Love in the Age of Technology, inspired by internet dating: “It haunted me so much that I wrote an anthology on the experience,” she said. Sylvia sometimes sang with her guitar, and sometimes talked alongside Gavin Daniels performing with flute and guitar.

It’s interesting to hear performers such as Sylvia say they’ve put poetry to music or arranged music to the words. Other people might call it a song, or a rap. Well not quite rap which is riffed off the beat. A dance piece where the dance is created and music arranged to it is still ‘dance’, not movement set to music. Or perhaps I’m wrong here. Does it matter? Are these delineations helpful to poetry reaching a greater audience? Comments at the bottom… Continue reading

Roman Krznaric – life inspired by history

19 May

Roman Krznaric

Roman Krznaric

Oxfam and UN advisor, tennis player, gardener and furniture-making fanatic, Roman Krznaric is the Brian Cox of philosophy, making it fun and relevant.

In the first part of his event at the Swindon Festival of Literature yesterday on the curious histories of how we live, I was reminded of my first year of my degree studies. This was about the Ancient Greeks and their various types of love. How ‘love’ didn’t necessarily mean passion, and how the Greeks actually felt wary of erotic love.

Which made me think that just because we (in the English language) don’t give different types of love their own names, does this mean we don’t have similar concepts? Or does giving them their own names raise awareness, legitimise them? Raise their importance? Or is the multitasking of one word just as good? Hmmm.

And here’s a ‘did you know’: the Eros statue in London’s Piccadilly Square is not the god of romance at all. Nope, it was erected (snigger) as a monument to his twin brother Anteros, the god of requited love and also known as the Angel of Christian Charity.

Ahha! I see what you’re doing there, Swindon Festival of Literature. I’m founding out things and getting a bit of mental exercise. Mission accomplished. Continue reading

Well cool and wicked wildlife

13 May

Hugh Warwick at the Lower Shaw Family Fun Day, a Swindon Festival of Literature event

Hugh Warwick at the Lower Shaw Family Fun Day, a Swindon Festival of Literature event

I wonder if there’s any point during my life at which I’ll stop thinking ‘cooool’ when someone tells me something, well, cool?

Hugh Warwick’s Swindon Festival of Literature talk about his new book, The Beauty in the Beast, is pitched at an aged 10-plus audience, by which I assume the organisers mean 10, and those whose appreciation of what constitutes cool has failed to mature past the level of, say, your average Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Continue reading