Tag Archives: technology

Hay Festival Digital 2020 The Outstanding Moments



I am delighted that Lockdown has brought Creatives out in force, there have been so many festivals, workshops and opportunities and it is also a way of supporting each other (those millions of self-employed, some of whom are artists) and a way of rallying together to lift spirits and improve people’s mental health during this isolation, during this fear of the pandemic, during this strange time that none of us have experienced before. And this week was the turn of Hay.

HAY culturewhisper

The Hay Festival is one of the world’s top literary festivals, staged in the small town on the Wales-England border. ©2011 BBC 

It is well known to be a particularly pricey festival, it is epic and brilliant if you have a chance to experience it in real life – I have always loved Hay-on-Wye (famous for all the bookshops – Richard Booth is credited with transforming the town into a global attraction for second-hand book lovers after opening his first shop in 1962) and I love the Hay Festival, the tents, events, atmosphere, joy and buoyancy you will experience there cannot be compared to many things other than a sugar rush! Some others have said it more eloquently!

Memorable quotes at the festival: “The Woodstock of the Mind” – former US President Bill Clinton.

“In my mind it’s replaced Christmas” – former Labour cabinet minister Tony Benn.

“One of the finest, most thought-provoking literary gatherings I’ve ever attended” – Junot Díaz, Dominican-American writer and creative writing professor. © BBC


However, it is not one I can afford to attend every year. I fully expected the events to be ticketed so waited expectantly for the programme to be released and was OVERJOYED (Yes! I’m shouting) when they provided it all for FREE! That in itself is astonishing.

I know they all wished it could be happening as normal, but let’s face it – there is not much that is normal anymore. I honestly didn’t feel like I was screen bound and experiencing a digital festival. It had the real Hay feeling. It helps that they could use the HAY music and screens that would have been playing in the tents as we found our seats. Although HAY is a HUGE festival, the tents don’t take 100,000 visitors and they had an international audience of over 10,000 at the big events and on average I was watching with around 5000 other people, some of whom will never experience Hay and so have had a true blessing to get a little of the 2020 action digitally. Hay has over 250,000 during the course of the week, but I think data for this year will sky rocket that!

I know a whole team was involved in decision making but using Crowd Cast was a good move, chat can be turned off and the screen can (as with the entire internet) be full screen, our lounge furniture is infinitely more comfortable than auditorium seating (although it’s not bad), refreshments were free and MOST importantly sessions were short (suiting the human attention span) and there were intervals between. Perfect.


I missed some events I wanted to see but hope to subscribe to the Hay Player later in the year when I have a cash flow that can be spent beyond mortgage, household bills and food.

The events I saw were well worth it and because the programme was open and unlimited I attended talks I wouldn’t have chosen, extending my learning and experience//field. It was a most enjoyable week, a busy one already – but busy right now, is good!

I had some particular favourite events and moments from the week. Some real highlights and gold-dust and I realise how subjective this list is – but here it is anyway, in chronological order because trying to do an actual Top 10 is an impossible feat and those who read on will notice it is a less-than-Top-10-Top-list!  The dates link back to the AWF blog reviews:


Friday 22nd May

Wordsworth 250: A Night in with the Wordsworths

ALL STAR CASTintroduced by Shahidha Bari with readings by Simon ArmitageMargaret AtwoodBenedict CumberbatchMonty DonLisa DwanInua EllamsStephen FryTom HollanderToby JonesHelen McCroryJonathan Pryce and Vanessa Redgrave.




Saturday 23rd May 

Jonathan Bate





Sunday 24th May 

Without hestitation…

Inua Ellams


and watching this multiple award winning poet win another one – The Hay Poetry Prize – was a very special treat! I love that he had no idea and thousands of people watched his expression of shock and felt his words of gratitude.

The film itself is amazing and another book for the birthday wish list. I am delighted that he was honoured/recognised by Hay, much deserved for this immensely hardworking poet.




Wednesday 27th May

Jackie Morris





Thursday 28th May

Claudia Hammond talks to Guto Harri




I got a chance to try it the next day (which was extremely busy) I had 10 minutes of absolute rest and it powered me through a whole afternoon’s list of To Do.


And another absolute gem. The deliverer of gold-dust himself, Roger Robinson. I think if there was a Top 10 there would be a joint winner!

Peter Frankopan and Roger Robinson




An additional joy of this event was the feed – people who have never read Roger or heard him talk/read. Reading their reactions was like discovering rain has turned to gold. Such a rich experience. And I knew, having met the man, spoken with him, read him, I was buckled in and ready!


Saturday 30th May

Allie Esiri, Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West





This event, Inua Ellams and Roger Robinson were all re-watched. They just had to be!


What an incredible week of Digital Hay 2020 it has been!



Hay Festival Blog

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 17



Read the full post here (although today it is pretty complete).

Our featured participant today is The Great Unknown, where Day Sixteen’s over-the-top prompt led to a poem rife with onamotapoeia, superlatives, and ebullient sarcasm.

Our resource for the day is the Poetry Foundation’s VS podcast, hosted by poets Franny Choi and Danez Smith. Every two weeks, they release a new episode in which they interview contemporary poets, and otherwise talk about what is going on in the world of poetry and beyond.

Today, I challenge you to write a poem that features forgotten technology. Maybe it’s a VCR, or a rotary phone. A cassette player or even a radio. If you’re looking for a potential example, check out this poem by Adam Clay, which takes its central metaphor from something that used to stoke fear in the hearts of kids typing term papers, or just trying to play a game of Oregon Trail.



As always I worked through the day almost chronologically – checking The Great Unknown before listening to the resource. The poem was very full and packed with wordplay and some great lines, I also checked out some of the jewellery blog posts before re-reading and seeing the part that creativity has to play in this poem.
I am enjoying a variety of podcasts having only recently (2 weeks ago) started to listen to them. I did one today as morning meditation (to be fair it was actually a meditation podcast).

I enjoyed the podcast and wrote some notes as they chatted because you can find sparks of inspiration everywhere!

I particularly liked ‘my ugliest leggings’ and ‘cleaning the dust off the outside of my windows’… ‘what I can do is mop and sweep… clean these counters’… Danez Smith.
I think I may be the only resident in my road/ the whole of the UK who didn’t start lockdown with a massive, deep clean! I know taking inspiration from the introductory chitchat was not Maureen’s intention in sharing this poetry resource but it set my mind racing! I liked the fact they also included poetry prompts and I shall tune in to listen again.

I love the idea of writing about forgotten tech and I was more comfortable in our simpler, pre-digital times. So my initial mind map was easy to fill a page with! Sadly I still have a VCR/a camcorder/some audio cassettes and videos! Maybe I shouldn’t openly admit that.

Choosing just one will be tough. Once I had my ideas I treated myself to Adam Clay – I enjoyed the Poetry Today website too. Then I went to discover what an earth the Oregon Trail was! I remember as a child playing on the Commodore 64 (which was the PC you had in the 80s if you didn’t have Amstrad)! I played a Sherpa game a little like this one – some expedition to the North Pole – will reserve this game for later in the lockdown.

I copied some of the photographs of old tech from the suggested website and started to decide from them and my list what subject to write about. I chose old mobile phones.

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 15



Read the full post here

Today marks the halfway point of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo 2020. 

Our featured participant today is Bag of Anything, where you will find a bouquet of humorous clerihews in response to Day Fourteen’s inspirational prompt.

Today’s poetry resource is this PDF of Fred Moten’s first chapbook, Arkansas. Since publishing it in 2000, he has published numerous full-length poetry collections, including The Feel Trio, which was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2014. 

Our prompt takes its cue from Arkansas. Today, I’d like  to challenge you to write a poem inspired by your favorite kind of music. Try to recreate the sounds and timing of a pop ballad, a jazz improvisation, or a Bach fugue. That could mean incorporating refrains, neologisms and flights of whimsy, or repeating/inverting lines or ideas. Perhaps a good way to start is to listen to your favorite piece of music and “free-write” for the duration  of the piece, and then use what you’ve written as the building blocks for your poem.


This year, I have been using a notebook for my NaPo scribbles, which means I have a 10 day backlog of work that needs typing up and filing, I started the catch up this morning.

I am happy with today’s prompt, I have often used music to create poetry in workshops, for projects and just at my desk. I usually work in silence so it does make an impact.

I attended a workshop with Rishi Dastidar a few years ago at Swindon Poetry Festival, it was set around his collection ‘Ticker Tape’ (2017) and we used different musical tracks // playlist to freewrite.

©Wasafiri Magazine

I also love a NaPo chapbook resource and discovering poets and poems I do not know.

I started (as always) at the participating site. I enjoyed the poet archive of the clerihews, although it is not a form I like to write or read particularly, inspired to finish with the poet who gave us the form to begin with.

I saved the PDF for a good read post-NaPo and read up on Fred Moten. I also didn’t want to read his poems until after I had attempted the prompt. I read the review of The Feel Trio;

‘Moten keeps the music in the words. Often he’s swinging out boastful declarations like some young rap M.C. … in lines where…  he sketches out his thoughts when “on tour” a playbook of the poet on the road.’


Then I went off to find some music to work with. I chose a track I used to listen to half a lifetime ago and it gifted me some surprising results!


NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 14



Read the post in full here.

Today’s featured participant is Scrambled, Not Fried, where Day Thirteen’s theft-inspired prompt resulted in an ode to the joys of the illicit.

Our poetry resource for the day is “Dr. Williams’ Heiresses,” a chapbook published by Alice Notley in 1980. In it, she weaves strange and discursive creation-myth for American poetry, and her own work, as influenced by the work of the poet William Carlos Williams.

Today’s prompt, like Alice Notley, think about your own inspirations and forebears. Specifically, I challenge you today to write a poem that deals with the poems, poets, and other people who inspired you to write poems. These could be poems/poets/people that you strive to be like, or even poems, poets, and people that you strive not to be like.



It’s hard to believe we are almost halfway through April, halfway through NaPoWriMo. We have reached the end of a fortnight of writing poems. How are yours looking? Some will be showing promise.

I really enjoyed today’s post, spent quite some time with the resources and exploring poets – in fact I fell so far down the rabbit hole I reloaded the site rather than using the back arrow button for a more swift return to the prompt!

As with many of the prompts this is one which does work for me and I see already that I will revisit and write from the many avenues into this prompt.

I started with Ron’s website, I had a little explore and read his poem. I enjoyed it, there was a lot of story to unpack in the scenario. Another chapbook belongs to the resources today, I read a little when I was sitting in the summer house this afternoon, it is a spectacular and intriguing read. I also read up on Alice Notley and my first attempt at the prompt (and my only so far, but I will be coming back to this one) was based on her style, having spent over an hour with her in my garden!

I actually took the rhythm of one of her poems first and then drew a thematic parallel from the title.

Once written (and I only used the first 10 lines) I let it settle for a while on the page and then changed the order of some of it and re-edited to keep the rhythmic sense of my original. So now I think there is some show of influence without any direct pastiche of her work. I may not keep the whole poem as it is, but was happy to discover several strong lines and a new to me poet.

Library Blues


I have just 18 minutes of access on the PC this morning (that will give me a chance to get ready for work at least!) had to ask for help again, was trying to log onto the Visually impaired computer (it was the only one free)… I wear glasses and had my most recent eye test in December, should I worry that I missed the notice on the monitor, – Visually Impaired – Ask for assistance.

How dumb did I feel?! I have mananged to get an early start this morning, working on 2 short submissions due at the end of the month, I need to get them finished so I can sit on them for a few days before editing.
I am simultaneously trying to get ready for my trip. I have heard it is -20 C, I have never wished to have ski-ing clothes until now. We have had more snow, not where I am based – it is cold enough though. I wrapped up to come out into town and the coat only just fits over two layers… I was planning on wearing at least four! New thermal undies better work hard!

Plan of action for today is to concentrate on OFFLINE writing after work this evening. I should continue decluttering too, as I have had about a week off from that!

I have managed to read 1 book so far this month already, kind of a cheat as it is a Children’s book – Peter Pan – 1951 print version which belonged to my mum or aunty. I felt like I should wear gloves to read it. It is hardback and I did fall asleep a couple of times with it on my face. I recommend reading such books, think you’re too old for a dream about Fairies? Best night sleep I have had in a while.

I haven’t read it since I was a child.

Have a good day reading, writing and blogging