Tag Archives: Louisa Davison Marlborough

Wild writing

18 May
Isn't Lower Shaw Farm pretty?

Isn’t Lower Shaw Farm pretty? Photo (C) Festival Chronicle.

Us chroniclers love an event leader who gives good quote.

Bridget Holding’s workshop was one of well-honed analogies, thoughtful phrases and stimulating prompts.

Her writing hook is wild. “Nature is a brilliant resource – it’s very living, it helps writing to become alive. It grounds ourselves,” said Bridget. And ‘new’ nature writing is very now – such as Amy Liptrot and The Outrun, as featured earlier in the Swindon Festival of Literature.

She explained what she meant: ‘writing is like tracking a wild animal’. An animal exists in its environment; it uses its senses. It has a physical bodily reaction with broad body sensations which intensify into emotions. Emotion is there to deal with a threat, leading to action. This will create powerful writing, lighting up the brain’s neurons, helping the reader live in your world, not simply look at it. Continue reading

Character and values with Cristina Odone

18 May

“I hate many American things, but I admire their confidence. America has something we don’t. They know their values. But they also know how to assimilate,” said Cristina Odone at Swindon Festival of Literature.

Cristina is a professional thinker (director of the new Centre for Character and Values at the Legatum Institute, former editor of the Catholic Herald and deputy editor of the New Statesman) who’s fed up with us British being all wishy-washy and apologetic about our values.

“I’m not saying we have to judge. I’m not saying Western values are the best; we are shaped by Judaeo-Christian values. But they are ours and we should stand by them.”

The values in question are Aristotelian in origin, Christianised by saints Aquinas and Augustine: courage, obedience, charity and scholarship. (It is interesting that Cristina chooses to interpret ‘agape’ as ‘charity’ over ‘love’, and misses out ‘faith’ and ‘hope’ completely from the Christian triplet.)

The talk begins with a tale of two men, two Muslims, both British. Asad Shah, a community-minded Scottish-Pakistani shopkeeper, was murdered ostensibly in extremist retaliation for Easter goodwill messages on social media. The other was Mohammed Emwazi or ‘Jihadi John’, the British-Arab ISIS terrorist. Cristina believes Shah was in possession of good character and strong values, while Emwazi was rootless and felt no connection to his community. Continue reading

All Afloat! with Poetry Swindon Festival

3 Oct

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“I discovered my Englishness through living on a boat,” said poet and canal dweller Jo Bell, who has recently finished a three year stint as canal poet laureate.

We sat on Dragonfly, a boat on the Wilts and Berks canal just a mile long and slightly curtailed due to bridge renovations, for All Afloat! part of the Poetry Swindon Festival.

Swimming happily (I guess) alongside was the teenage offspring of Mr & Mrs Swindon, adult-sized but still-grey cygnet. Recently Mr Swindon was sick. Canal enthusiasts clubbed together to send him to the swan sanctuary for six weeks to recover. Meanwhile Mrs Swindon found a new love and Teenager was born. Chris, our boat host, explained this is contrary to popular opinion that swans mate for life. Mrs Swindon now divides her time between Mr Swindon and her lover (Mr Wroughton? Just a suggestion) I think this is unfair to suggest Mrs Swindon is feckless. It’s not like you can sit a swan down and explain her hubby is off to hospital for a month and a half. She probably thought he was dead. Though the mourning period was arguably a little short. Continue reading