Tag Archives: poet

Dogs and cats

11 Oct

I am Dog.

It is the final day of Poetry Swindon’s festival. For an entire week, I have stood silently in the Tent-Palace of the Delicious Air, watching and listening as poets spin colours from words. Now I leave my china body and send my spirit out across the festival.

Focus…

I am in the Richard Jefferies Museum. Daljit Nagra’s masterclass has begun. There is a fine table covered in sleek green leather. Daljit sits at one end, like a friendly teacher. Like a friendly headmaster.

Some of the students are established poets. Others are relatively new to the poetry world. One, in particular, feels like a pretender. The word “master” is not a term he identifies with.

Focus… Continue reading

When your mother calls you smart she doesn’t mean it as a compliment

9 Oct

Mona Arshi was really pleased to be at Poetry Swindon Festival. ‘I wanted to come here for so long,’ she said, looking around at the Tent-Palace, ‘This is beautiful.’

She brought her husband and two daughters. The older of the two also looks smiley-faced but the younger lounges on a pouffe with her coat mostly covering her face. Mums are meant to be embarrassing but when your mother is a poet who dedicates her work to you, that’s another level, ‘When your mother calls you smart she doesn’t mean it as a compliment.’ 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

Getting lost with a map

7 Oct
Jean Atkin workshop

Jean Atkin workshop

‘Here is a map.’
‘I don’t like maps.’
‘Can we use a satnav?’
‘There won’t be a test. It’s in the spirit of dadaism’

Jean Atkin kicks off the Poetry Swindon festival Big Poetry Weekend with a workshop, and asked us to get lost with a map. ‘You discover a place once with a map, then again when you visit,’ she said.

My eye was drawn to Bettiscombe Manor House and my mind to horror, which to anyone who knows me is far from a shock association. Dredging up my map skills the ye olde writing meant a historical site and the jam-packed series of irregular lines around it – some pretty steep hills.

Bettiscombe Manor House
I hide in a tight valley,
Sheepish slopes rise on all sides.
Children bring tabogans to Sliding Hill
Oh, some time ago.
No snow for years;
One great fall and the clouds were finished.
These days fun is found in my bare broken bones,
Then treachery on mildewed steps
Down inside to the cellar.

At that point, one poem up and still fun in the edits, I thought I’d quit while ahead.

Jean Atkin’s workshop was at the Richard Jefferies Museum on 6 October 2016, part of Poetry Swindon’s Big Poetry Weekend.

Chronicle written by Louisa Davison

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

2 Oct

trump

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

maggie-harris-pic

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

Worksocks

1 Oct

glass-half-full

Maggie Harris Workshop

I’m not a fan of workshops; they are usually just an excuse for me to buy a new Moleskine which I will then abandon the next day.

I’ve been to some great workshops, but I’ve also experienced four-hour sessions of Poetry By Numbers which have made me want to chew my arm off.

So it was with some trepidation and a clam shut mind that I racked up to the Savernake Social Hall for two hours with poet Maggie Harris. 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