Tag Archives: matt holland

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

Preaching to the converted

3 May

 

Kaye Franklin

Kaye Franklin would approve

 

3rd May 2016, Swindon Festival of Literature

The Kaye Franklin Memorial Lecture

In taking the phrase ‘preaching to the converted’ as the title of this post I’m leaping to the end of today’s lecture delivered by Matt Holland, at Swindon Arts Centre.

Having made his last point, Matt sat down in readiness for the Q&A session, looked out at the audience and observed a feeling of ‘foolishness’ at having spent 30/40 minutes talking about the role of literature in life to a crowd of people who almost certainly believe that there is a role and a purpose to literature – because why else would they have been in that lecture? QED?

So did Matt need to feel foolish? Is there a role for literature in life? And if so – what is it? Continue reading

Foxes are the champions

2 May

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On a night when the ‘Foxes’ of Leicester City won the Premier League at the expense of the cockerel crested Spurs, debating the fox and his many guises seemed appropriate, especially as the event took place at Lower Shaw Farm.

Chickens were conspicuous by their absence, perhaps taking the hint from the signage chalked across their usual pecking ground.

So, Fantastic Mr. Fox or ginger vermin?

Lucy Jones explores every side of this complex creature in her book Foxes Unearthed – A story of love and loathing in modern Britain.

Speaking in a former cowshed on an award-winning urban farm, Jones was in the perfect place to expand on the countryside vs. city paradox which sees foxes fed at back-doors by ‘townies’ but shot or hunted in the countryside.

Jones made it clear that Mr. Fox is both hero and the villain, and has been so since he slunk into mankind’s chicken cave centuries ago.

A keen audience of first-night festival-goers heard the wildly differing points of view of the hunting fraternity, angry saboteurs, curly haired pomp-rock guitarists and chicken-less farmers. Continue reading

All good things come to an end – Swindon Festival of Literature Finale

2 Jun

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All good things must come to an end, and this good thing ended with a bunch of crescendos, and some climaxes courtesy of poet Jo Bell.

Swindon Festival of Literature is about authors, and books, and thoughts, but the Festival Finale traditionally throws music and poetry into the mix, allowing the festival faithful a chance to kick back, rest weary brain cells, and wallow in entertainment. Continue reading

Sandi Toksvig at the Swindon Festival of Literature

6 May
Sandi Toksvig with Matt Holland

Sandi Toksvig with Matt Holland

I do love a good book event. The interviewer and interviewee on stage in comfortable chairs, normally with a table between them. Sometimes there are flowers and glasses of water. There’s always a pull-up thing behind them advertising something else. And last night I got the chance to see Sandi Toksvig in action, doing what she does best, talking at a hundred miles an hour on a myriad of subjects from being short to the King of Sweden. Her latest book, Peas and Queues, is about manners and how to behave properly. Apparently, Sandi got the idea from chastising her daughter who was eating with her elbows on the table. Sandi told her to get her elbows off, her daughter asked her why. She had no idea why. The book topic suits Sandi with her clipped, upper-class accent; I expect her to be a font of all knowledge onthings like this. Her accent tells me so. Continue reading

Dawn Chorus – Swindon Festival of Literature 2015

4 May

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Twenty-two, full of vigor, a sunny disposition, so hot flames pounce at the sky and totally up for it at 5:30am, the Swindon Festival of Literature 2015 juggled, joked and sunshined its start at Lawn Woods this morning.

The Sun Arise Choir filled the air with all of the gentle beauty Swindon has to offer, gorgeous harmonies, Park South and the County Ground being the only other Swindon landmarks which come close from that ridge in Lawn Woods where the town slumbered in early morning loveliness.

A packed and cheerful crowd were treated to storyteller Chris Park and tale about a cloak being a story, which for me ended up cloaked in as much mystery as when he started, his huge Irish Wolfhound is amazing though. Continue reading

Town with a city heart – Swindon Festival of Literature launch

22 Mar

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The Swindon Festival of Literature has a thing for bracing days, ya know – freezing brass monkeys. It kicks off at a cold dawn in May and Thursday, a biting March day you may have noticed, was the launch, outside in a windy Swindon Central Library atrium.

The Festival likes to stimulate ‘thinking parts’ so maybe all this chilly fresh air enables our brain to fully engage and not lie indolent in the sloth-like embrace of central heating.

So, back inside the warm library, I munched on the lovely homemade launch food and thought how good it is when politicians speak from the heart rather than generic politic speak. Matt Holland, Festival director, seemed to appreciate this too because he expressed his love for guest speaker, Teresa Page, the mayor of Swindon: for her, Swindon is the town with the heart of a city; she only had one book a year at Christmas (a present from her sister); and (a girl after my own heart) she also enjoyed comics Bunty and Judy. No tired ‘cultural desert’ metaphors for the Lady Mayor. Continue reading