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Thursday, 26 April 2012

New Authors, Winning Poets, and Broody Bantam

Professor Wade AllisonWade Allison
Two new authors have taken the places of two who had to cancel.

On Thursday 10th May at 6.30pm Professor Wade Allison steps into the slot vacated by Mark Lynas and tackles a not dissimilar topic. In his talk, after the title of his book, Radiation and Reason, he will outline a clear, positive, and accessible scientific account of the effect of radiation on life.
John SummersJohn Summers

On Thursday 17th May at midday, John Summers replaces Ian Leslie, honestly. Occasional broadcaster on Radio 4 and former worker at Saatchi & Saatchi, John takes a light-hearted look at the art of complaining.

This week, the results have been announced of the nation-wide Swindon Artswords Battered Moons poetry competition, that is part of this year’s Festival. There were hundreds of entries from all over the British Isles.

The winner comes from London but the runner up is a local poet and member of Swindon’s BlueGate Poets. Also, among the four entries that were highly-commended is another local poet, from Wootton Bassett.

To have two out of seven winners come from our area is terrific and represents a real achievement for local poets.

Chief judge, Professor of Poetry in Manchester and prize-winning poet in his own right, Michael Symmons Roberts said, ‘The final decisions were tough, because the standard was so high and the entries so very varied.’

Fellow judge and London Poetry winner Cristina Newton said, ‘It is a privilege for me to be involved in the Battered Moons Poetry Competition. It really is putting Swindon on the literary map.’

To which I would add this. Not only is it exciting that Swindon Artswords’ first national poetry competition has had so many entries and been so successful but also, that two of its winners are, so to speak, home grown and Festival followers. This is wonderful, that these two local writers have done so well in such a tough competition that includes poets from far and wide. It bears testimony to the way in which Literature and the love of good writing and reading is thriving here.

Come to the Festival and see!

Now, must go. The broody bantam is off the turkey eggs and is calling for a slice of soaked bread. -
Yes, I know, that needs some explaining. Will do, anon.


Sunday, 8 April 2012

Events, eggs, and excitement.

Barely two weeks since launch date, and one event, the Mindfulness Workshop, has already sold out. Hot on its heels for popularity and up-take of tickets are Camila Batmanghellidjh, John Simpson, Mark Williams, Will Hutton, Melissa Ben, Claudia Hammond, Stuart Maconie, John ‘Boycie’ Challis, and the Swindon Think Slam!

Talking of competitions, as I write, final judgements are being made, from hundreds of entries, for our big Battered Moons Poetry Competition. And judging is already complete in the smaller but equally intriguing Young People’s FLIT180 novel-into-a-film competition Talking of competitions, entries are coming in fast for both Swindon Slams, the poetry and the think one. At this rate, final contestants may have to be drawn from a hat.

The pre-Festival warm-up event has happened, in the shape of Paraguay at the Platform. It was great to flex our organisational and technical muscles at a new venue; learn a few more things about the importance of getting it right on the night; and then enjoying the fruits of our labours. The harpists, in costume, excelled themselves, as did the stand-in Mastermind contestant. And the Paraguayan food, chipa and sopa, hand-cooked by two natives of that country, who are better know as composer-conductor and banker-‘ambassador’, hit the spot too. By the end of the interval, it was all gone.

And at the Festival’s HQ, Lower Shaw Farm, spring’s first chicks have hatched, live, in front of our eyes, in the Dairy. It is reckoned that you have not lived till you have seen a chick come out of an egg. If that’s true, then a whole bunch of children and grownups have well and truly lived as they witnessed every dinosaur-like little cheeper shell-tooth its way into the world. Once dried and straightened out, the multi-coloured chicks are cute beyond belief.

On Easter Sunday, at 3pm, residents and visitors from Lower Shaw Farm, plus a good few adventure-seekers from Swindon, will be egg-rolling on the slopes of Avebury. A real tradition and loads of fun. You can come too.

Matt Holland