Tag Archives: Hilda Sheehan

A Simply Splendid Swindon Affair

8 May

A Swindon Affair

8th April 2016

A  Swindon Affair: a Family Affair and a Love Affair

When posting about this event on social media I accidentally referred to it as a ‘Family Affair’. But that was probably a Freudian slip – or something. Because a family affair is really rather what it felt like. The entire affair: afternoon and evening – was filled with people I know and have great affection for. And it was wonderful.

Loving Swindon: in words, pictures and music – a few words first about the afternoon event. The Platform on Faringdon Rd was overflowing with the astonishing literary output and outpouring there has been, and still is, about Swindon from Swindon people and others who love Swindon.

The whole thing was a collaboration between Swindon Civic Voice, Poetry Swindon and the Swindon Literature Festival. Three most marvellous groups right here in Swindon. Continue reading

Waltzing with Frances and Martine at the Swindon Festival of Literature

5 May
Paul and Hilda and Frances and Martine

Paul and Hilda and Frances and Martine

A piano dominates the stage, a very cosy looking sheepskin or polyesterpelt rug is thrown casually, but accurately, beside it. The Teasmade is on and the knitting has been put to one side …. Just for now.

Frances and Martine, dark, humorous and adventurous creations of Hilda Sheehan, are waltzing tonight and who knows where that glide and swish will take them?

Spotted late but somehow menacing is a metal chair with a seat of words and a back made from the steel of Salvador Dali’s shaven moustache, what will these two opinionated women make of that?
Timing was the key to the performance, with Paul Turner’s piano fracturing the language and creating darker, deeper impressions. Continue reading

High Wire Act: Poems in Flight at the Swindon Festival of Poetry

2 Oct

Three woman poets – Claire Dyer, Susan Utting and Lesley Saunders – today gave a collaborative reading High Wire Act: Poems of Flight, a project of coming together over mutual respect of each others’ work. Sharing their work spread out on a table, they realised they had a common theme of birds and escape.

Their work ranged from the descriptive to the metaphorical, meanings deep within the verse or a story easily grasped; all beautifully read. About the first moon landing, love, the life balancing act performed by women, inspired by art, deceased mothers and the sadness of a stuffed bird. (One beleaguered male audience member commented, ‘With three woman poets I was worried it would be yucky, it wasn’t’. Perhaps he was expecting Jo Brand-style pieces about periods?)

Inspired by Lesley Saunders’ poem, A Sheep, a Duck and a Cockerel, I thought I’d pen my own piece. Lesley’s poem is about the development of flight, from those first animals who – in test dummy fashion – took to the sky in a balloon, to the casual, routine journey of flight today.

I really liked the line: ‘looking is always an act of desire.’

Lesley describes Kittenger’s record-breaking fall from the sky back in the 1960s and I remembered how fascinated I was with Felix Baumgartner’s stratospheric fall in 2012 which set new records.

Yes, perhaps the money invested in setting up Felix’s stunt could have been better used on feeding starving orphans, but here was a hero we could look up to (I know, pun) who tested the limits of the human body and psyche on our behalf. And who was a man driven, obsessed, not with being a new record holder, but just with falling that far.

For him, looking was not just an act of desire but of looking into the very heart of fear.

The Descent

He strove for years.
Loved the freedom of falling;
The atmosphere like a storm
Resistance versus mass like the friend of my friend.

Continue reading

Ink, paints, and happy coincidences – Korky Paul at Children’s Day, Swindon Festival of Literature

12 May

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“What’s my name?” illustrator Korky Paul demands at Swindon Festival of Literature’s children’s day.

Bit of an ego trip for a kids’ event, thinks I (Chronicler Pete), as a barn full of youngsters yell back a response.

“Snorky?” retorts Korky in mock-indignation? “Snorky Snortle?” Then he draws and colours a Snorky Snortle in super-quick time, taking leads from the children as to what kind of nose (elephant), mouth (crocodile), arms, and legs (chicken) the fictional beast should have. Continue reading

Erotic cupcakes – Swindon Slam! in Swindon Festival of Literature

12 May

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So it was Swindon versus love tokens in the final of the 19th Swindon Slam!, on Saturday night.

Bit of a brave decision, dissing the hosting town in your bid to be crowned King of Slam. I’ll admit I quite liked Robert Garnham’s* rhyming of ‘Billie Piper’ and ‘hyper’ and comparison of Swindon to Philip Scofield. I can see where he’s coming from. But whether this counted against him or whether Tina Saderhome’s* domestic tale of love tokens was better, I’m not sure. In case you were wondering, love tokens are those things which really test a relationship – not when your spouse/daughter is kidnapped to ensure you commit a presidential assassination**, no we’re talking about leaving the toilet uncleaned after, ahem, a bowel movement: ‘I didn’t realise you’d literally leave your shit lying around’.***

And – in the bit I was there for anyway – there was *breaking news* no poetry about sex. Unless you count the erotic way cupcakes were described in one stanza, and Fozzie Bear in another (‘Wear the Hat!’). Okay, these were the two poets that slammed in the final. So, actually, if you do want to win a slam, make sure your poetry is loaded with smut.

*This spelling is probably utterly wrong.
**Sorry, been watching all eight series of 24 again.
***This is an appalling paraphrase.

Words by Louisa Davison. Photos by Calyx Pictures.

Wildflower Story Hunt, Swindon Festival of Literature

6 May

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Or: blowing flowers up with TNT.

Following in the footsteps of one of Swindon’s eminent writers and Victorian naturalist, Richard Jefferies; Milo, Sydney and I hunted for wildflowers and their stories, planted potatoes and peas and ate cream teas. Continue reading

Exciting poetry coming down a slip road – Swindon Festival of Poetry launch

5 Sep

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The great thing about being a chronicler is that on the one hand I can write whatever I like (as long as it isn’t defamatory and all the words are wrote proper) but on the other I feel part of the team.

So going to the Swindon Festival of Poetry launch today at Swindon Arts Centre was a chance to catch up with wordsmithing friends. Continue reading