Tag Archives: literature

Sunrise, stones and stardust

7 May

Rising before dawn prompts many questions; why am I awake again, whose idea was this, and will there be coffee?  Fortunately for me and the hundred or so early risers in attendance, the impressive line-up of entertainment and presence of a coffee van in the Lawn Woods served as a welcome reminder of why we were there. For, it was, of course, the launch of the twenty-fifth Swindon Festival of Literature, and the Dawn Chorus is an integral part of the carefully curated programme, as are the authors who attend.

As newcomers, to this longstanding event, I, and Millie (9) did not know what to expect; layered up, cashed up, and blanket laded we approached in the manner that life should be; open but prepared. However, our warm coverings were not necessary due to our fortunate timing of attending the hottest Dawn Chorus on record. Continue reading

Programme launch defies convention with longevity and…fruit

22 Mar
Lit fest launch biscuits

The launch of the 2018 Swindon Festival of Literature in biscuits. ©Calyx Picture Agency

Fruity magic

Fruity magic ©Calyx Picture Agency

Wearing purple

Mayor Cllr. Maureen Penny wears purple © Calyx Picture Agency

Food has always been big with the Swindon Festival of Literature Festival launch. So alongside the festival’s name spelled in aromatic ginger biscuits and other home-made grub which hungry attendees decended upon, there was some magic with a banana.

Since its launch in 1994, over twenty-five years festival director Matt Holland has grown the festival’s pamphlet of ten events into a programme of fifty authors.

And those events have brought people together for the greater good, and sometimes just with books and no food involved. They built bridges and given the controversial a voice – and what better example than founder of the ill-fated Kids Company charity, Camila Batmanghelidjh (16th May). When she last came to the festival in 2012 she was well respected and loved. This time it’s to answer her critics and the effect of the charity’s demise on children’s services. Continue reading

From cuneiform to graffiti – Swindon Festival of Literature has all writing bases covered

16 Mar

As Swindon Festival of Literature inches towards its quarter century, different methods of written communication – from the oldest to the very recent – will be celebrated this year.

Unveiling the 2017 programme at Swindon Library today (Thursday, March 16) festival director Matt Holland mused on how the way we use writing to communicate our thoughts is changing.

“In a digital world where the currency of topical commentary can be successfully and powerfully compressed into 140 characters – definitely a great method of instant communication – the book is still doing remarkably well,” he said. Continue reading

From Spain to Swindon via Stockholm and Saskatchewan: protest and love are the themes of Festival Finale

19 May

At around the same time that a protest song by the Ukrainian singer Jamala was winning the Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm on Saturday night, the Spanish duo La Heidi Bèlika were performing their own protest song on the stage of Swindon Town Hall. Continue reading

Detective novelist returns to the scene of the crime

16 May

It all for started in Swindon’s Town Hall for Alison Bruce – then Lansdown – at a film-writing course.

“I like the idea, but you need to write a book first,” was the tutor’s instructions.

So Alison went away and wrote her third book; well, her first, but it was like Star Wars where the first turned into the third in the seven book series.

I knew Alison in the 1980s when she was a presenter on local radio, presenting a rock and roll show.

I have photographed her with her Ford Zodiac car as a mechanic, as a model, and recently I ventured into her now home town of Cambridge, to interview her about the first book in the Detective Goodhew series of crime novels. Continue reading

Swindon’s greatest intellects clash at Think Slam

15 May

Swindon’s greatest intellects clashed on Friday night, at the seventh annual Think Slam.

(Full disclosure: Chronicler Louisa was one of the competitors, and I am contractually obliged to describe her as one of Swindon’s greatest intellects.)

Over three gruelling rounds, seven competitors did mental battle in the Swindon Festival of Literature competition run in association with the Swindon Philosophical Society.

Swindon, by the way, is unique in having this kind of philosophical thrown-down. Until another town or city picks up the gauntlet, the competition winner is, by default, the UK’s – and possibly the planet’s – greatest living philosopher (just think the USA and the baseball World Series). Continue reading

Profanity and insanity – Swindon is Blessed by Brian

12 May
brian blessed_3394Swindon Festival of literatureBrian Blessed

©Calyx Picture Agency Brian Blessed

*** Warning: this report contains swearing, obviously: it’s about Brian Blessed. ***

Brian Blessed is going into Space. This is a good thing, as it is probably the only place large enough to accommodate his personality. Certainly the stage of Swindon Arts Centre cannot not hold him.

If Brian Blessed were an astrophysical phenomenon, I think he would be a supermassive black hole, because strange things happen in his field of gravity. And he’s massive. Continue reading