Photography Credits: Mark Farley (Official Festival photographer), Gram Joel Davies, Jennifer Berry and Richard Jefferies Museum © 2017 Copyright remains with them.
So the hardest thing about being on the team helping at Poetry Swindon? The mornings! It was lovely to have the comfort of a bed and I really enjoyed sharing a room with Sarah L. Dixon. Seeing the three resident poets in our hotel was a joy bigger than the happiness my soon to be off the scale Hash Brown addiction brought me… but I am a night owl*, not a morning person, definitely in need of a vat of coffee by Day 2 and panic stricken with the realisation that I may not be able to make this marathon.
*This came in handy for late-night bar duties though.
After a lovely cooked breakfast (and no washing up) – believe me, for the volunteer team, this is a big thing… although after all the washing up over at Artsite, there wasn’t so much at the Museum, thanks to the ECO-plates and spoons (biodegradable) and no cooking thanks to the Vegan catering and not much breakfast washing up thanks to the generosity of rooms.
The best thing about volunteering (not obviously the best thing), is knowing what to wear in the morning! At the RJ Museum we had morning briefings and time to get the place ready for the programme to begin. I think Hilda and many others in the team had already been preparing and cleaning for about 3 hours before we arrived just after 9 AM.
Day 2 Friday 6th October
Friday morning started with a workshop, one in which volunteers could participate fully, with the exception of making sure everyone was alright and carrying over a few resources only one member of the team had official responsibility – so the hat could be taken off (often a literal measure at Poetry Swindon) for a bit.
The festival programme always offers workshops with the resident poets.
10:00 to 12:00 WORKSHOP: Liberation Through Constraint Sun Inn
With Tania Hershman
Sometimes, imposing constraints can actually set your writing free. We will experiment with various ways to restrict yourself, playing with form, content and length – and seeing what results!
10:00 to 12:00 WORKSHOP: The Dynamic Poem Holiday Inn With Daljit Nagra
Poems can sometimes seem flat and lack vigour, they can drift along in a dreamy mood without any conviction. Daljit will explore with examples from contemporary poetry how to put the fizz back into a poem. Participants should expect to have attempted at least one new lively poem!
I had chosen to take part in Daljit’s workshop, last year I went to his Masterclass at Poetry Swindon and I couldn’t wait to be led by him again.
There was an exciting buzz over at The Holiday Inn, not just for the participants. Daljit discovered the wonderful 007 Bond style briefcase in the corner. I have since attempted to order something like this, but you have to hire people to laser cut the foam and it is ridiculously expensive.
You all want one too now don’t you?
It was a fabulous workshop which resulted in a good few skeletal poems in my notebook.
After which Lunch was served and like Cinderella the team were all reunited from Poetry Ballrooms back into stewarding roles. To serve drinks and lunch, sell books, keep everything clean and tidy and make sure everyone was having the best festival experience.
The afternoon saw two events starting with an open mic. This event was ticketed and people were able to pre-book open mic spots. Another element I love about Poetry Swindon is all Festival Pass ticket holders can perform at the festival as part of the open mic event in a guest spot. This is a real bonus of buying a festival pass and something it would be great to be offered by other festivals. Although, this is another treasure that makes Poetry Swindon stand out, gleaming and shining as it does.
13:00 to 14:00 OPEN MIC – Strange Days RJ Museum Tent-Palace
‘There is no exquisite beauty… without some strangeness in the proportion.’ Edgar Allan Poe
Read us poems that don’t see straight. Poems that bounce, poems that are unflat, poems that pretend to be other things…or just bring us your anything strange! With special guest readings from Rachael Clyne & Jinny Fisher.
Jonathan Robert Muirhead
Iris Anne Lewis
Sarah L. Dixon
Miranda L. Barnes
Photography Credit Gram Joel Davies ©2017
I sadly missed the next event. I was not quite ready when it started and after wandering around to try to find the bunch of poets in hats, I gave up. Most regrettable, it looks like it was a wondrous experience. Hats were compulsory!
14:30 – 16:30 Coate Water Poetry Ramble
Starting by the Mulberry Tree take a voyage of discovery to Coate Water with Poet Sarah L. Dixon, expect to be surprised, exercised and poetised.
Photo Credits to Jennifer Berry © 2017