Swindon Poetry Festival is sublime: fun, fascinating and f—ing mad. I dragged my husband along for a Saturday afternoon’s party and then red carpet premier of the Man for a Day film made of our transformations for last year’s festival. It’s only six minutes long but it absolutely captures the essence of the project.
It’s a year since we had our Man for a Day outing at Swindon Poetry Festival 2014. We’ll be at this year’s festival (NOW ON) tomorrow for our film’s premier. There’ll be joy and warmth and poetry, based on last year’s experiences. Do come and share the day if you can. Or try some of the other festival events. I feel trepidation about how the film will come out (as it were) but can’t wait to find out and, above all, to meet up with everyone involved again: special poets and friends. There’s nothing like bonding over breast-binding and strategic socks.
I have a new poem to share. Now … what to wear?
“Alex” Fox performing at the Arts Centre, 2014
Me, Rachael Clyne and Hannah Linden at the start of the day
At the start of the summer I went from my usual part time work to doing two jobs (my full time boss’s work plus my own) for nine weeks – a shock to the system – hence the dearth of proper blog (or, indeed, any writing). Exhaustion coupled with those images (refugees) left me miserably wrung out.
The news that our ally Saudi Arabia has sentenced a teenager to crucifixion (but this is the Twenty-first Century so he will be beheaded first, so that’s ok) made me sick. The news that Saudi Arabia will now head a “key UN human rights panel” must mean satire is truly dead, along with anyone who protests the Saudi regime. Meanwhile London hosted a massive arms fair and many regimes with unpleasant records will have attended.
Our leaders have no shame.
But here are glimmers of light. Yesterday’s #piggate #snoutrage Twitterstorm was sublime though, yes, satire must be rolling in its grave; four years ago Charlie Brooker imagined a storyline in Black Mirror where the PM is forced to have sex with a pig.
We know the Eton/Bullingdon elite are bound by shared experiences but we had no idea they were so hilarious – and that the rivalries would be so childishly exposed. So Cameron did something gross? Ashcroft hardly comes out well with the expose – which also begs the question, What have all your other friends been up to, chaps? “We’re all in it together” really does apply for them.
And what is the Daily Fail aiming for with this? A swing to the right for the Tories? Or a Fail switch to supporting UKIP as a “balance” for some British plebs’ shocking surge to the left? Should we be afraid? Well, yes and no: yes in that we need to be ready for the Fail’s brand of divide-and-conquer hate to spew but no because it is fear that feeds that kind of hatred.
The Tories were rattled even before #piggate; the contexts in which “security” have been invoked lately are mind-boggling. I particularly recommend Margaret Attwood’s recent blog on “freedom”.
Meanwhile, here are a few photos from that weekend visit to friends in Devon I mentioned in my previous post…
Blog posts like buses … After uploading last night’s pictures I noticed a flurry of mentions on Twitter which turned out to be thanks to Sarah James who has reviewed Fox Unkennelled in the same micro-review blog post in which she review’s Jo Bell’s fabulous new collection, Kith. Blimey, I am in ace company there and, as I’d not canvassed for reviews, an unexpected joy to discover how Fox Unkennelled is met by a poet I so much respect. The full reviews are HERE but I shall quote:
The bold opening poem’s image of Hallucigenia on a baby’s face is a haunting one, and the pamphlet’s poems are full of vivid imagery. ‘Cwmmy Crab’ is so beautiful and evocative that it reminds me of the gorgeous, lush illustrations to my childhood favourite Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast.
In Fox Unkennelled, there are poems of science, of man’s impact on the world, endangered animals and class/politics. But there is also humour, and literary illusion; all brought together in a poetry of precise details and precise sounds. Very much a pamphlet I enjoyed, and one also for re-reading.
And now for some more photos from Ty Newydd last week, this time mostly from costal explorations:
It’s been busy. Excuses, excuses. The sci-fi is progressing with some critiques and comments from generous beta-readers. The day job is on an overtime spree but I have just managed a week’s holiday for a poetry Myth Making course at Ty Newydd in deepest north Wales: bliss.
There will be writing. But, for the next few weeks, it will be the sci fi or new-hewn poetry (thanks to Ty Newydd and the excellent tutors, Pascale Petit and Daljit Nagra): probably not work to share here. In the meantime, and for the use of anyone else on the course who wants reminders of our close observations on our walk(s), here are some pictures. More will follow.
Ty Newydd is beautiful and old. I shared an attic room with a very quiet friend in the main house. We had a view over the back gate walnut tree.
The stairs were a challenge with a big suitase.
And we were never sure who had the room with the small door above the library …
There was a blue moon, someone said.
More photos to follow …