Swindon Poetry Festival – blissful, amazing, supportive, friendly, fun, abundant opportunities, fabulous workshops, performances and readings, fantastic venue and lovely vegetarian food, what more could a poet wish for… well, the whole weekend for starters. I thought I was being very clever organising an action packed day and a bit of writing time, next year I plan on making the whole festival a 5 day stretch – Thursday to Monday morning.
I didn’t want to leave and if plans hadn’t already been made for the weekend I would have booked extra tickets for almost all of the events on offer in the programme.
The programmes themselves were works of Art, striking covers and clear festival listings sandwiched between poems from the performers booked for the weekend. Most of us will keep festival programmes so to have one as worthwhile as Swindon’s is a blessing. There were also Battered Moon pamphlets handed out over the weekend with winning poetry inside and the winner of the Buzzwords competition was announced too. The whole weekend was one massive celebration of words, poetry and poets and the whole community/ retreat feeling just added to the excitement of spending time together.
Everyone was friendly, I was trying to catch up with people I knew and get to meet new people too but my anxieties ran high and I wasn’t the best of company some of the time, watching others approaching strangers and not feeling confident enough to do the same. I did spend some of my free time writing as well, which makes talking to people a bit hard.
I first met Hilda Sheehan in January 2014 at Buzzwords, Cheltenham, an excellent evening organised by Angela France. Hilda is an amazing, generous person and an immensely talented poet. This year she had Jo Bell there as resident poet and she certainly worked hard in her role. Both these poets are a pleasure to be around. Their positivity is contagious and smiles have to be shared.
I met a lot of people who had never been to a Poetry Festival before and some who had only recently picked up the genre. The mix of residents and day trippers made for great conversational dynamics and as with everything in the world of poetry many of us knew each other.
I had hoped to make this festival in 2014 but work prevented it. I booked my tickets in the last few weeks of September believing it to be miles away and then realising Swindon Poetry Festival was just a week away!
It came at the end of a busy work week (unfortunately) I promise myself now I will plan better for 2016! I need FULL energy to appreciate this world fully!
Many of the events and the residential accommodation is at Lower Shaw Farm, an amazing place. Tickets are sold through Eventbrite and it couldn’t be easier book.
“The friendliest and least pretentious; rich, diverse, and encompassing; pushing past conventional views of poetry in the twenty-first century; intimately global; startlingly fresh.” Robert Peake
We welcome you to Poetry Swindon Festival 2015. Our aim to offer up poetry on a pleasurable plate mixed with music, film, food, walking, boat trips, and some Dorothy Parker to ensure you have a good time during this one big creative programme over five days.
This year, we are very fortunate to have the Canal Laureate Jo Bell with us all weekend. She brings with her great poetry fresh from her new collection Kith, published earlier in the year by Nine Arches Press. Jo offers us readings, chats, workshops, a canal trip and one-one poetry surgeries. You can book for the entire weekend at Lower Shaw Farm and enjoy the whole caboodle.
POETRY SWINDON FESTIVAL 2015
We have an exciting programme from 1st October to 5th October this year with wonderful visiting poets and masterclasses. Don’t miss: Jo Bell, Kei Miller, Robert vas Dias, Angela France, Ellie Woollard, Tania Hershman, Myra Schneider, Andy Jackson, Richard Skinner, Pascale Petit, Ross Cogan, David Clarke, Anna Saunders, Jacqui Saphra, Lynette Thomas, Robert Stredder, Jackie Bardwell and Cherry Potts.
I booked Friday and had the pleasure of the X-ray Spex Workshop with Jo Bell, which has given me at least 3 or 4 poems to work on.
I was one of ten 52 Poets who performed our work and promoted the anthology over lunch.
I thoroughly enjoyed Andy Jackson and the Double Bill event, followed by Kei Miller and then an evening back at the ranch with all the resident poets.
The following day after a comfortable night’s sleep, I shared time with people and wrote away the morning on the farm before I had to return home to normality and a world where words are sometimes harder to find.
There will be more photographs shared – a taster of the weekend coming soon.