Tag Archives: poem

The one that didn’t get away

8 Oct

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Ken Evans – 2016 Battered Moons Competition Winner

I am the wastepaper basket under the desk of a tired poetry competition judge and I’m full.

I’m waiting for the black bag to come again to release me from this heavy weight of 40% hope and 60% despair that has me brimming over. 

But this time it’s different, I can sense a poem being uncrumpled, flattened out and reconsidered.

It is, of course, the winning poem and I am glad to give back for once.

Daljit Nagra hasn’t got to where he’s got to without being a disarmingly honest and funny bloke. Continue reading

More exposure

8 Oct

I really liked Simon Kirwin’s poetry (his Sleeford Mods introduction, Lion the f**king cellar Lion, the political circus clowns – honk, honk!) but all I can think about is Andrew McMillan urinating. Okay so not him, exactly, but well. Continue reading

Ourselves and the Shoemaker

8 Oct

file_000Anybody who thinks poetry is a load of cobblers should listen to Linda Black and Carrie Etter, the poetic inhabitants of very different worlds but each with their own sparse word outlook.

Co-editor of Long Poem Magazine and a brilliant illustrator, Linda Black read first from her Shearsman collection Slant and took us on a dazzling trip into the dark woods of language alongside Elizabeth Bishop and Virginia Woolf.

With footwear that evidenced a special relationship with the Shoemaker himself, Linda led us her way. Continue reading

Are you a florist?

8 Oct

 

Matthew Caley told us, ‘There’s a lot riding on you as an audience.’

It turned out he wanted a florist in the audience. As he suspected there was not; there never is. He concluded that florists don’t like poems. This was a big build up to a tiny tanka, a haiku with obesity he said.

He and Alison Brackenbury gives the kind of confident from-memory reading where the subject matter is a kind of bonus; it’s a pleasure to listen to their voices and intonation.

Alison opens with a unexpected tribute to Swindon. Not because she doesn’t like Swindon but because I didn’t expect that poem – about rock and rollers who died in plane crashes – to end that way.

Alison talks about horsey love, climate change, the spring at a Roman villa, extinction. And. No.

‘Happiness bored you most of all,’ she said.

Matthew Caley and Alison Brackenbury read at Poetry Swindon Festival, 7 October at Richard Jefferies Museum.

Chronicle by Louisa Davison

Loss into growth

7 Oct
Ruth Stone is looking at me

Ruth Stone

Poet Ruth Stone lived to 96, transforming all losses into movement, into growth, so said Stone-enthusiast, Chaucer Cameron who edited Salt on the Wind: poetry in response to Ruth Stone. She lived in a little house in Vermont with no running water and wrote about the everyday and her family, and science, civil rights and even horror. Continue reading

Exposing yourself

7 Oct
Little Usherette

Little Usherette

So I had a quick nap in Hilda’s Lounge, as you do, then back to the tent-palace, as you do. But this is Poetry Swindon Festival and things can get way more surreal.

Jill Abram and Jinny Fisher were the warm up acts for an ‘industrial strength poetry evening’, according to host Cristina who tripled up as heckler and cheerleader.

Cristina told Kim Moore, joint poet-in-resident, to read the one about the scaffolder. This one is a ‘psalm’ to her dad as it turned out. Her one about the Trumpet Teacher’s Curse (she’s just quit after 13 years to do a Phd) made me laugh and nod as she listed her primary school students’ crimes against brass instruments and the subsequent list of things to inflict on them, such as practicing for hours without improvement, then perform at an empty bandstand in the cold and rain. Kim told us she read it to her mum, a shoe factory worker, who said, ‘that was my life for years’. It took a moment for the inference to ripple to the back, but I laughed right away having a mum who sometimes failed to plaster a smile to her face during school concerts (and being a mum myself). Continue reading

The Spirit of Keats

4 Oct

Great idea. Keats poetry set to music, threaded through with ghostly story.

The first drama was how my friend Tess could avoid the rustling of a bag of Haribos during the performance. We didn’t think they’d appreciate this added sound effect. She solved the problem by emptying the sweets into her handbag. (I hope she found all of them. Few things worse at the bottom of a handbag than old sticky sweets; perhaps bruised pears and spare toddler’s pants that fly out in a meeting when trying to find a pen – but that might just be me.)

If you know anything about poetry or remember it from school, Keats is almost certainly in the running order, so this came at it from a fresh angle.

The singing was impassioned, the piano beautiful but the story left me a little cold. Continue reading

What if you threw a poem and no-one came?

2 Oct

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Dada Generators at the Museum of Computing

Sometimes no matter how great that you think an event is and is going to be, it doesn’t work.

Coming from the background of ‘why don’t we just try it?’

I am very used to my imagination colouring in the feverish excitement of eager punters in the build up to the event.

Only to find that come the great day I am talking to someone who thought I was the Tuesday Yoga teacher.

Or my audience is a drunk straight out of an all-day bender in the pub.

So there I was feeling welcome but uncomfortable, admiring the amazing innards of The Museum of Computing with no lithe bendy leotarded companion or beer breathed bore for company, just me and Dada, some computers and the marvellous Simon Webb, resident hard drive and RAM of the museum and all round hero, pfft. Continue reading

Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, In, In, In

2 Oct

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Photograph © Jennifer Berry 2016

Tea & Cakes with Maggie Harris

Maggie Harris had already proved to be a warm and enthusiastic workshopguru at the Savernake Social Hall, what could make it just that little bit better? Nothing at all? No, tea and cakes of course.

Reading a broad selection from her extensive back catalogue, Maggie treated us to poetic insight into her forty years living in the UK and her constant exploration of her Guyanese roots. Continue reading

I hear voices, I see visions

1 Oct

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Elephant’s Footprint – Poetry Films

Bringing life to life is more difficult than it looks.

Who is the reader, the listener, the viewer and really so what?

The way I look at life is different to the way you look at life – I would imagine; I can send you a print-out of my browser history to confirm this if you like.

I would bet my bottom Euro though that we both review life as a sequence of images with an extremely unAttenborough totally unreliable narrator intoning apparent fact ad nauseum.

Poetry Films make the voice, and the visuals converge, and the results hint, suggest and deliver a particular type of poke in the ribs that they couldn’t do on their own.

The films made by poets from Swindon and the elsewhere that exists beyond the town were of high quality and obviously the result of some hard graft coupled with effective mentoring from Helen Dewbery and Chaucer Cameron of Elephant’s Footprint.

Unfortunately, I was buttonholed by my unreliable narrator two poems in, and he just wouldn’t shut up. Continue reading