Tag Archives: poet

I hear voices, I see visions

1 Oct


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

Naked Violence Travels – Valley Press Poets

30 Sep

Last night, the Valley Press Poets shrugged off poetry’s sometime image of daffodils and pretty birds and found the fun in Gothic horror and time-travelling violence.

Kelley Swain from Rhode Island USA, for instance, is very well travelled in the nude.
I’m not being rude.

She’s a life model, immortalised on many walls in paint, pencil and charcoal (or forgotten in a dusty attic or moldering shed). How many versions of her are there? Up it sticks a couple of graphite fingers to selfies, anyhow. Continue reading

Alone unwatched?

30 Sep

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Those China eyes are staring at you again, well one of them is, the other gazes sideways at someone on the other side of the room, an admirable bit of ocular multi-tasking for an inanimate object.

A China paw gloved by a China shoe pokes from the folds of a China robe as if this Swindon Sphinx has once more lost the straightforward pathway.

But this is not a straightforward place, nor is it a dark wood, it is Poetry Swindon Festival being five years old.

You had an unusually hectic Wednesday night, you left your phone charger on the train, you feel washed out and tired, your mood dial is flicking its eyelash in and out of grumpy.

Like the shopkeeper in Mr Benn, a great friend appears at your side, you met her through poetry, and she has held you up when the mood dial mires in the red.

She offers you the clothes of a poet and you put them on, you don’t want to be a Spaceman or a Medieval Knight today, you want to be a poet.

You wonder where these clothes will take you? Continue reading

Spoke and word

18 May


Part of the attentive Poetry Swindon audience at The Sun Inn, Coate.


Swindon Literary Festival this is not, this is Swindon Festival of Literature.

As Matt Holland made clear in the inaugural Kaye Franklin Memorial Lecture, Literary Festivals are all about books; a Literature Festival is about writing, good writing.

Continue reading

Damn fine words – writing workshop with Matt Harvey at the Swindon Festival of Literature

17 May
Writing workshop with Matt Harvey

Writing workshop with Matt Harvey

Matt Harvey’s writing workshop yesterday was a lesson, not just in writing, but how to run a writing course. We had three and a half hours to learn. I felt sympathy for Matt when we introduced ourselves, a proper mixed ability class.

There were published poets and Karen, a novelist with an agent. There were also people who hadn’t written since school; for Lucy that was twenty years ago. That’s one diverse crowd to cater for in a single workshop.

But the great thing about writing is that a person becomes a writer when they write. Whatever inspires a person – with a pen, pencil or finger to put it to paper or electronic device and create words – is job done. Continue reading

I rejected Harold Pinter – the Editor’s Role, Swindon festival of Poetry

3 Oct
David Caddy and Martin Malone

David Caddy and Martin Malone

Yesterday, David Eddy was discussing the Editor’s Role with fellow poetry editor, Martin Malone. It began innocently enough. Lots of helpful tips to poets, looking at improving their publication chances.

‘Nurturing’ and ‘nourishing’ were bandied about. Don’t publish in haste, not while you’re working through the strokes. Develop as a poet, don’t write the same old thing over and over. Make it strange. Don’t do creative writing courses and become a clone.

“I take poems on their own merits,” said David. Which sounded encouraging. He publishes work with the poet’s name at the end, not at the start so readers aren’t influenced by the fame of the writer.

But then the ‘Tears in the Fence’ editor dropped the bomb. “I rejected Harold Pinter,’ he said. Continue reading

Don Share bonds with Dog at the Swindon Festival of Poetry

2 Oct
Don Share

Don Share

After a welcome tea, hearty Lower Shaw Farm style, festival organiser Hilda Sheehan introduced her poetry hero, clutching a bag.

The contents included a mug (for copious tea) and soap. The latter wasn’t a comment on Hilda’s personal hygiene; Don Share – the bearer of the gifts – was mindful that Hilda is a long time avid listener of his podcasts, in the bath.

It was an internet romance that brought Don, editor of Poetry magazine, from Chicago to Swindon. Don, Hilda and Michael Scott bonded on Facebook over a love of band XTC in the seductive form of Swindon resident, Barry Andrews and, Don said, ‘the magic of Hilda and Michael’s generous personalities.’

“British poetry is so exciting to me,” he enthused, but it’s hard to come by the work in the States. “I want to take British work back with me and bring them to the attention of the American public.”

His first poem, Being Philosophical, was dedicated to the festival mascot, Dog.

Don is at the festival for the duration. See Squandermania, the wonderful baby born from a collaboration between Don and Barry today, 8pm at Swindon New College.

Written by Louisa Davison

Roger McGough – Swindon Festival of Poetry

6 Oct
Roger McGough

Roger McGough

Roger McGough’s Friday event at the Swindon Festival of Poetry, As Far As I Know, was a masterclass in brilliant delivery.

Much of the time I was laughing out loud, which made his more thoughtful pieces hit even harder. What I really like about Roger’s work is that his poems at first seem really straight forward and easily understood, but then Roger plays around with the words like a Wimbledon champion, slicing and top-spinning until they flick a winner over the net when I was expecting a passing shot.

Such as A Fine Romance which is about dementia, Alzheimers and, er, love.

Or in As Far As I Know, where he lists the awful things he hasn’t done, before comically mixing them up: ‘molested a bomb soaked in voicemail.’

Poet Laureate Carol Anne Duffy called Roger the patron saint of poetry, so he wrote a response to her best known anthology, The World’s Wife (see post), by way of, for example, Mr Nightingale (spouse of Florence Nightingale) and Enid Blyton’s husband. Mr Blyton is fed up with his wife’s fictional characters supplanting him in their marriage, so he wishes that a haunted cave would collapse on the Famous Five or ‘five famous skeletons wash up on some distant shore’.

And I think I’m with him on that.

Exciting poetry coming down a slip road – Swindon Festival of Poetry launch

5 Sep

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The great thing about being a chronicler is that on the one hand I can write whatever I like (as long as it isn’t defamatory and all the words are wrote proper) but on the other I feel part of the team.

So going to the Swindon Festival of Poetry launch today at Swindon Arts Centre was a chance to catch up with wordsmithing friends. Continue reading

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