Tag Archives: Sara-Jane Arbury

Think! It’s the Law.

13 May

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The always intriguing Think Slam posed answers and gave questions in its usual, unusual way.

A packed Arts Centre seemed thankful for the thinkful competitors whose bravery in the face of thought never ceased to amaze.

Sara-Jane Arbury introduced the 8th ‘Think Slam’ incarnation and was quick to point out that the Swindon Festival of Literature hosts the only event of its kind in the country.

A chill must have coursed the collective spines of the Think Slammers as philosopher Stephen Law was press-ganged into the role of judge supremo – his latest book is Believing Bullshit: How Not To Get Sucked Into An Intellectual Black Hole.

But bullshitters these thinkers were not, as they presented a typically varied and at times surprising window on their world. Each competitor had a three-minute time slot in which to make their argument in the most effective way possible.

John Yates, a self-identifying Remainer still stunned by BREXIT got proceedings underway with a suggestion that a byproduct of dramatic political change could be the dismantling of our political system. Continue reading

You! Me! Slamming!

7 May

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The tone for the 21st Swindon Slam! was set by Swindon Arts Centre technician Ben. Hot Stuff blared out as hosts Sara-Jane Arbury and Steve Rooney danced their way onto stage. Revelling in her finger-pointing authority, the mistress of the mic stoked an already humming audience with the measures of applause: Cheering! Wooping! Stamping! Clapping! Whistling! Winking(?)! Kissing(??)! Hearting(???)!

After the rules had been explained and the judges calibrated with Steve’s ‘sacrificial poem’ concerning the joys of the work sickie, the draw for the first of four heats that comprised the first round was undertaken. The resulting draw put out three Swindonians in consecutive order: Heather Still followed by Stephen Daniels and Nick Lovell, with experienced slammer Peter Wyton rounding out what transpired to be blisteringly close first heat. Continue reading

There can be only one – Swindon Slam!

8 May

First off, a massive congratulations to all who took part in the Swindon Slam! this year (and every year). Everyone who took part wrote a credible piece of poetry and for some it was pouring their souls out on stage. In competitions if you win, or come in the top three, it’s the best feeling in the world, but if you lose it can be very demotivating. So I’m going to say, keep going! You are fantastic, want to hear more!

There were 15 amazing competitors this year, which equalled 29 diverse poems under three minutes or less – including those by comperes – mostly performed with aplomb.

Yes there were poems about beverages and love and references to dead famous poets, and poems about poems or not writing poems or taking part in competitions with poems (like this one).

There were also poems about war, bombings, addiction, the environment and Professor Brian Cox (of course). Continue reading

A Little thought-provoking thought – Think Slam! at the Swindon Festival of Literature

19 May

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A little thought provokes and a little thought at the Swindon Festival of Literature provokes an event called ‘The Think Slam’ which is now in its sixth year.

Festival Director Matt Holland has often championed Swindon’s Literature extravaganza as a ‘Festival of Thinking’ so it’s easy to think of the ‘Think Slam’ as the thinking man’s cherry on top of the think cake of the festival of thinking (if you think like that).

Seven contestants thought that their thinking could make the judges think enough of their thoughts to crown them ‘Swindon Festival of Literature Think Slam Champion 2015’.

The event itself is less debating society and more poetry slam without the poetry (a nice niche idea I’d have thought), replacing the babbling bards, are of course, the seven ‘thinkers’ who are judged not only by two thoughtful judges, Radio 4’s Matt Harvey and Tedx talker Suzannah Lipscomb but by the reaction of a deeply thinking, thoughtless or thunk out audience. Continue reading

To be or not to be? Do it. Do it! Think Slam at Swindon Festival of Literature

20 May

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So I decided the night before the Think Slam that I was going to do it. Do it. Do it.

That needed to be said several times as the only time I previously entered the Think Slam, I came last. But that’s me. Utterly nail it or completely miss the point. I am not an inbetweeny kind of woman.

So on Thursday I finally had three solid ideas in my head for the three times three minute pieces, and checked on the off chance that there was a place left in the competition. There was. Okay, I now had one chronicler piece to write up that day. Check. Two for Friday. Check. And three think slam talks to hone for Friday evening. Oh gawd. I really don’t like life to be simple.

And to really make it interesting, I woke up on Friday to a nasty headache.

At 1pm, after chronicler Pete shoved some painkillers down my throat, I began to write. I spent three hours on the first talk and an hour on the next two. I work quite well under pressure, fortunately. The chronicler pieces would have to wait.

After Sandrine Berges’s interesting talk on unsung hero Mary Wollstonecraft, it was time for the Think Slam to commence. Continue reading

Erotic cupcakes – Swindon Slam! in Swindon Festival of Literature

12 May

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So it was Swindon versus love tokens in the final of the 19th Swindon Slam!, on Saturday night.

Bit of a brave decision, dissing the hosting town in your bid to be crowned King of Slam. I’ll admit I quite liked Robert Garnham’s* rhyming of ‘Billie Piper’ and ‘hyper’ and comparison of Swindon to Philip Scofield. I can see where he’s coming from. But whether this counted against him or whether Tina Saderhome’s* domestic tale of love tokens was better, I’m not sure. In case you were wondering, love tokens are those things which really test a relationship – not when your spouse/daughter is kidnapped to ensure you commit a presidential assassination**, no we’re talking about leaving the toilet uncleaned after, ahem, a bowel movement: ‘I didn’t realise you’d literally leave your shit lying around’.***

And – in the bit I was there for anyway – there was *breaking news* no poetry about sex. Unless you count the erotic way cupcakes were described in one stanza, and Fozzie Bear in another (‘Wear the Hat!’). Okay, these were the two poets that slammed in the final. So, actually, if you do want to win a slam, make sure your poetry is loaded with smut.

*This spelling is probably utterly wrong.
**Sorry, been watching all eight series of 24 again.
***This is an appalling paraphrase.

Words by Louisa Davison. Photos by Calyx Pictures.

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.