Tag Archives: performance

Metrical Youth – Youth Slam

11 May
Swindon Festival of Literature Youth Slam

Swindon Festival of Literature Youth Slam

Those pesky kids, you know, the ones who hang around by the bus shelter, wearing hoodies and talking to each other, those ones, well they’re great! Ample evidence of this was on display at the ninth Swindon Youth Slam hosted by Marcus Moore and Sara-Jane Arbury. A hotly contested, noisy, dramatic and brilliant word battle saw teams such as ‘Bros of a school nobody knows’  lock pentameter with ‘The Glam Girls and Jimmy’ to inventive and innovative poetic effect. Themes covered showed just what poetry can do to express problems, delight and confusion. Madness, self harm, homophobia and teenage boys’ scab eating habits all got an airing. Even that most difficult of poetic conundrums got a look in – ‘the nothing rhymes with orange problem’, well at Swindon Festival of Literature ‘syringe’ most certainly does! As the finalists prepared to unleash their well oiled words, Marcus Moore reminded everyone that it was Swindon schools taking part and lamented the absence of an influential guest as he said, ‘if only the education secretary was here to see what we’ve managed to achieve’. First place went to the aforementioned ‘Glam Girls and Jimmy’ with their keenly observed poem on the inside of the mind of a teenage boy (hence the scabs). Their funny and precise performance saw them secure the number one spot for Commonweal School. Odyssey from Swindon Academy took second spot with a Shakesperian sonnetesque piece of love angst containing the killer line ‘stop wasting your time your mate is fitter.  Kids at bus stops crafting sonnets hashtagging ‘ I love you’ on Twitter, the future’s bright and it might rhyme with orange.

Swindon Festival of Poetry – Being Human

11 Oct

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Having the same title as one of my favourite TV shows was a big point in favour of Tuesday night’s Swindon Festival of Poetry Finale.

Okay so Being Human didn’t have werewolves, ghosts and vampires in it, but both are about the stuff of life – life stages, its ordinariness, the rubbish things that can happen, the amazing things and how we each deal with all of it.

Taken from the Bloodaxe Books anthology of the same name, Being Human is a dramatisation of thirty-four poems from different writers performed by three fantastic actors, Benedict Hastings, Elinore Middleton and Barrett Robertson. 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

Swindon Festival of Poetry – Mabel’s House Party and ‘The Joy of Sex’

8 Oct

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‘Odes to Joy!’ and the joy of sex was the theme for Mabel’s House Party though sadness, messiness, uncomfortable and baggage sex was also in abundance.

It’s been forty years since the book, The Joy of Sex, was published with its quirky style and fun approach to lovemaking so Domestic Cherry – the people behind Mabel’s House Party at Artsite Swindon – held a competition with the book as its theme. Saturday night we heard the winners.

It was great to see the venue was completely packed – the only seats left when we arrived were those tiny ones they use in primary schools. Artsite was set up like a night time cafe with feather covered lamps, bottles of wine and of course the Domestic Cherry cups of tea.

There were moments of comedy. Jill: ‘She is less subtle / Goes straight for his buckle’. Judy: ‘I wish I’d misspent my youth.’ Peter made his rhyme out of all the pet and slang names for genitals. Another poet from Ireland read The Tandem – how to decide who cycles at the back and observe the others wiggling posterior. Jo Bell – just named as the first canal poet laureate by The Canal & River Trust – gave us her observations on ‘Coming’ or should that be ‘Cumming’? Continue reading

Swindon Festival of Poetry – poetry darrlin’ Pam Ayres

6 Oct

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It’s fair to say that last night Swindon Festival of Poetry hosted one of Britain’s most popular poets, at The Platform, Swindon.

As well as enjoying some of Pam Ayres’s poetry, we heard anecdotes about her life and the inspiration behind some of the audience’s favourite poems, documented in her 2011 autobiography ‘The Necessary Aptitude: a Memoir’.

Pam never had aspirations to write ‘deep’ poetry – ‘other people could do it so much better’. But it’s to poetry’s benefit that she developed her own style and wrote in a way that anyone could relate to and enjoy. Continue reading

That’s all folks: Swindon Festival Finale

20 May

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I wasn’t sure what to expect from Swindon Festival of Literature’s Finale, yesterday.

I’ve developed a suspicion of cabaret-style events, because often it’s a convenient word for a hotchpotch of mismatching acts that vary in quality from bad to mediocre.

But the capacity up-for-it crowd at Swindon Town Hall told me otherwise. No cost-cutting exercises in local amateur acts, but a mixture of the best of local and national poets and performers. Continue reading

Chickens win the 16th Swindon Slam!

13 May

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Today I witnessed a poetry slam for the first time. I’ve been aware of them for about 13 years, so it was about time I got my finger out and went to one.

But what a great performance! Seasoned hosts Sarah-Jane Arbury and Marcus Moore have been doing this a long time – Swindon’s is the second longest running in the UK – but both are as fresh as a daisy, warming up the audience with an introductory clap along to Donna Summer’s Hot Stuff. Continue reading

Toothill Long Poem

13 May

Disappointed I didn’t get to see / hear this one.

I spoke to organiser Hilda Sheehan (as herself this time, not Domestic Cherry Mabel) in between FLIT 180 and Swindon Slam! and she was very pleased with how the world premiere of the Toothill Long Poem turned out. Continue reading

The poetry of battered moons

12 May

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Swindon’s poetry competition, just turned national, attracted 300 entries. And has a great title.

Winners and commendeds came from across the country to the celebratory event at the Swindon Festival of Literature last night, held at the Swindon Art Gallery and Museum. It was judged and special guested by well-regarded poet Michael Symmons Roberts, with lovely Spanish guitaring by Robert Jacks and uplifting songs by Serene Boulton…

But…

It was all just a bit, well, quiet.

I don’t know. I like a bit of showbiz. Not the silly extremes of vote-athons like X Factor where they take 5 minutes and an ad break to reveal the winners. But, more of a performance. More anticipation. More excitement. Continue reading

Are you there?

10 May

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Are you there? Good.

So I went to Alex Horne’s Word Watching at the Swindon Festival of Literature last night, a tad concerned it might be a bit Radio 4, you know, cosy in a Louis Theroux sort of way. And yes, I guess it was. No agit-comic Mark Thomas-style clashes with authority or Frankie Boyle controversy for Alex.

That’s not to say he didn’t get some sound tellings-off. During his quest to get an Alex-original (or rather: re-appropriated) word into the Oxford English dictionary he was nearly banned from Wikipedia for repeatedly changing Natasha Kaplinski’s entry to describe her height as 6’2” tall and removing all references to ‘hands’ and replacing them with new word ‘paddles’. And his knuckles were virtually rapped via email by Only Connect presenter Victoria Coren for being responsible for a deluge of emails to the BBC which insisted that ‘honk’ is a bona fide word for ‘cash’. Continue reading