Tag Archives: spoken word

Swindon Festival of Poetry – exciting, exciting!

7 Sep

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Sitting on a chair after the launch speeches and fiddling (as usual) with my camera, co-organiser of the very first Swindon Festival of Poetry, Matt Holland, gave my back a friendly rub, cracked a massive grin and said: ‘It’s exciting, exciting!’

And so it is.

A year or so after announcing to about 5 people on Facebook that Swindon is the Poetry Capital of the World, Google – no less – has now got with the programme. So if you Google search for Poetry Capital of the World, Swindon is what comes up. I kid you not. Try it for yourself. 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

Heated debate at Swindon Poetry Sunday

13 May

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 There are many sides to that thing we call ‘poetry’.

There’s the performance poetry of the Slam!. The poetry of the nursery rhyme. The poetry of hip hop and the singer-songwriter, the folk singer, the hymn. The limerick, the nonsense poem, the psalm, the sonnet and the haiku. Poetry of strict form and poetry of tradition. The poetry of the streets and the poetry of abstract concepts.

Some people don’t call themselves poets. They label themselves spoken word performers, slammers, MCs and lyricists. 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