Tag Archives: Swindon Central Library

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

Detective novelist returns to the scene of the crime

16 May

It all for started in Swindon’s Town Hall for Alison Bruce – then Lansdown – at a film-writing course.

“I like the idea, but you need to write a book first,” was the tutor’s instructions.

So Alison went away and wrote her third book; well, her first, but it was like Star Wars where the first turned into the third in the seven book series.

I knew Alison in the 1980s when she was a presenter on local radio, presenting a rock and roll show.

I have photographed her with her Ford Zodiac car as a mechanic, as a model, and recently I ventured into her now home town of Cambridge, to interview her about the first book in the Detective Goodhew series of crime novels. Continue reading

Cold War Nairobi and the Thing that calls itself I

5 May

So this Swindon Festival of Literature evening involved a spot of dancing to a cheesy tune, being stuck in a car park, and a wild-ish haired professor. Sounds like a good plot for a book.

Which leads into the first event’s theme, Poetry Swindon 78s, where the Richard Jefferies Museum’s writing class used scratchy old 78 RPM vinyl records as a creative prompt. At Swindon Central Library, we heard the tunes and the writers read their work.

Nairobi, a bubbly 1958 Tommy Steele number, became a Cold War spy tale by Ben Holloway. Ben’s nervous rapid delivery and breath-catching apologetic gaps suited the memories of a paranoid molehunt.

I had enough time to catch Anna-May Laugher’s Ready for the River from a 1928 track by The Rollickers – ‘Want to drown my troubles / and leave just the bubbles’. I was glad I bought the accompanying 78s book and could get to know this poem: a five-part account of a river, a living thing, accepting and eating anything thrown in it – dead things, oar cuts, memories – before it is consumed by drought.

Regretfully, I crept out and then spent 10 minutes stuck listening to the bleep of a Swindon car park help button (‘hanging on the help button’ flash fiction coming up) before I could head up to the Arts Centre, which meant I missed the first half of Roger Scruton. So apologies if crucial information is notable by its absence. Continue reading

What I Bring

19 May

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Who are often spoken about but have rarely a chance to speak?

It sounds like a riddle but really it’s an observation, one that storyteller Rachel Rose Reid makes in Swindon Festival of Literature’s performance, What I Bring.

Beginning ‘as all good things do,’ said Festival director, Matt Holland, ‘as a conversation between two people’, the idea behind What I Bring grew into a collaboration between Swindon Library, Artwords, The Harbour Project, Swindon Dance and Swerve Dance Company, and woven together by Rachel Rose.

Armed with her own international heritage, Rachel told her collected stories before she introduced the dancers, who performed to a soundtrack of recorded tales of refugees and asylum seekers, newly arrived in Swindon. Continue reading

Staying calm with Linda Blair

17 May
Linda Blair

Linda Blair

Deep breath and OMMMMM….

At least that was what I was expecting during last night’s session with Linda Blair on mindfulness, but that didn’t happen. Linda is a clinical psychologist based in Bath who has written The Key to Calm, a book on how we can bring more calm in our world. Her approach is much more about being aware of yourself and your surroundings rather than finding a way to escape from it. And it seems like the world needs it; I was surrounded by a packed out audience of stressed out men and women, all looking for advice on how to manage their lives better. Linda has really positive energy and a we-can-do-it attitude made better by her Southern American accent and I’ll put my hand up and admit I was one of the first to yawn as I relaxed in her presence. I was also quite anxious as everyone in the audience seemed to have a pine cone in their hand. Why did they all have pine cones and I didn’t? Was there something special about the people with pine cones? Were they the chosen ones? Why wasn’t I offered a pine cone, etc? Continue reading

Imagine the audience are all wearing Primark – Chris Tutton at the Swindon Festival of Literature

9 May
Chris Tutton

Chris Tutton

This was Chris Tutton’s second visit to Swindon. Six years ago he led a session in the Museum and Art Gallery.

Today [Friday 8 May 2015] he read from his new collection, Angles of Repose, and then offered up the stage to the audience to read their poems. Chris gave performance tips and advice.

‘Just let me know when I’ve read for 40 minutes’, he asked and began with talking muscles, dreams of the sea, off-the-cuff remarks, grown-up regrets, and magpie memories. His asides and introductions to the poems were funny and dry, I was never quite sure why he was telling us this stuff, then I’d find myself laughing. Continue reading

There is Nothing in the Garden at the Swindon Festival of Poetry

2 Oct

I can see why the Swindon Festival of Poetry organiser, Hilda Sheehan, invited filmmaker Helen Dewbery and poet Chaucer Cameron to present their poetry film, There is Nothing in the Garden.

To the founding editor of Domestic Cherry and the creator of 1950s housewife persona, Mabel, There is Nothing in the Garden would seem happily all over the woman’s perspective. Continue reading