I have divided my festival review posts into days, sometimes half days and on occasion by events. The programme was action packed and I do not want to overwhelm you!
Photography Credits: Mark Farley (Official Festival photographer), Gram Joel Davies, Jennifer Berry and Richard Jefferies Museum © 2017 Copyright remains with them.
Poetry Swindon Festival took place in October. It is one of my favourite Poetry Festivals, such a laid back ambience and always an incredible programme. A really caring festival, where you feel part of a poetry family. Lots of people describe it as the friendliest festival.
I have attended the festival before, the first time back in 2014 (my 1st year as a poet), this was my 3rd year and this year I had the opportunity to join the team. I have never chosen to steward at a festival before as I usually like to participate fully. I missed being totally absorbed in the programme and having the freedom to talk to everyone, but it was a wonderful experience and one I know I will repeat and it also enabled me to enjoy a wonderful poetry festival, for which I am grateful.
Poetry Swindon Festival was created from the Swindon Literature Festival. For 5 years they have run an immensely varied and brilliant festival programme.
This year they had not 2 but 3 Poets in Residence: Tania Hershman, Daljit Nagra and Jacqueline Saphra. Who all committed fully to the role of resident poets. They came to many of the festival events, stepped up to be Workshop Leaders, opened their workshops to additional participants and were available to talk to poets all weekend. Jacqueline was also the official Guest Blogger over on the Festival Chronicle (Louisa Davison).
I arrived on the Wednesday afternoon, the entire team were gathered by the evening at Artsite in Theatre Square in the Town Centre, ready to dress the Number Nine Gallery space for the opening day. It was a fun evening and Hilda Sheehan provided us all with a beautiful homemade curry for our hard work.
Preparation included posters displayed in windows and dressing the space, which meant a trip to buy flowers, no shot of the full trolley, which looked beautiful. We prepared the Poetry Pram, set chairs out for the audience and made up all the badges.
Preparing the Poetry Pram.
I managed to pop my shoulder after photo bombing these two. We were booked to perform V Formation on the opening Night of the Festival. I was attempting to make the V.
Gram Joel Davies, Stephen Daniels and Nina Lewis V. Press Poets
It was lovely to meet Gram in real life after being internet (52) poetry friends since 2014.
The next morning the festival kicked of at the Number Nine Gallery with Poems Aloud, an open mic event and Jinny Fisher took her Poetry Pram out onto the streets of Swindon.
10:00 to 12:00 POEMS ALOUD Artsite, Number Nine Gallery, Theatre Square, Swindon
‘I celebrate myself, and sing myself’ Walt Whitman
Come and share some favourite poems, or your own work, to launch the Poetry Swindon Festival. Hosted by Hilda Sheehan & Maurice Spillane, it will be a warm and friendly gathering, with The Poetry Pram out and about too.
Poetry Swindon Festival Programme © 2017
There were many performers and a good sized crowd for the opening event of the festival. Here are just a selection of photos from Poems Aloud.
Matt Holland from Lower Shaw Farm, the original home of Swindon Poetry Festival.
He came bearing gifts…
Jonathan Robert Muirhead
Gram Joel Davies
Then it was time to take the Poetry Pram out and about.
Jinny Fisher: ‘This charming trio of barbers were the first to enjoy poems from the Poetry Pram on the first day of Swindon Poetry Festival, as part of the Poems Aloud event. Thanks to all the up-for-it poets who sent in poems. It was a fun event and unused poems were left in the pram, which was parked in the festival tent, for festival participants to enjoy and replace. So I still have a lot of poems, which I’ll carefully keep, for the next time. I hope there will be a next time! Many thanks to the irrepressible Tony Hillier and Hannah Linden for helping this event shape up into a weirdly fun experience — for all.’
Lunch was served after all this excitement.
Followed by Poetry Films with Chaucer Cameron and Helen Dewbery (Elephantfootprints).
14:00 to 15:00 POETRY FILMS Artsite, Number Nine Gallery, Theatre Square, Swindon
Join us to discover how poetry film can offer a rich and visceral experience. Poetry Film Live editors, Chaucer Cameron and Helen Dewbery will present a dazzling selection of international poetry films.
It was poetry films on show in the attic rooms of the Richard Jefferies Museum last year, which made me create my own.
It was an interesting event and great to see some examples of work.
Chaucer and Helen were very much part of the Festival this year. They invited selected poets (I was lucky enough to be one of them) and they projected our poems onto the walls of the Museum in the evening. There are not many photographs of this amazing film work but I did find a photo showing a reaction to one of the poems and in the video below there are several shots of their work.
Whilst writing this review I discovered two videos created by the Richard Jefferies Museum – home of Swindon Poetry Festival. The first one gives you all the flavour of the festival and the second one is a record of the hard work the team are putting in on site. Enjoy!
Richard Jeffries Museum Video by Paul Gentleman