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Town’s reputation as poetry hub grows with festival
SWINDON is already the poetry capital of the world if search results on Google are to be believed.
Though that was a piece of mischief by local writers, the town’s growing reputation as a cultural hotspot was evident yesterday at a well-attended launch for the first Festival of Poetry.
The addictive qualities of crisps, chicken keeping and the fickle nature of love were among the topics given the poetic brush at the packed curtain-raiser hosted by Swindon Central Library.
The week-long series of events next month, which welcomes author Pam Ayres as the star attraction, will compliment the Festival of Literature in the town’s calendar.
Matt Holland , one of the organisers, told the launch: “Poetry is buzzing in Swindon and the surrounding area. It’s a buzz that is spreading along the M4 corridor.
“There are regular visitors to Swindon writing workshops from Newbury, Reading, London and Bath and Wales and Bristol to the west.
“In fact if you Google poetry capital of the world, you get Swindon. Check it out. It was us being a bit naughty.
“At the last festival of literature, there were poetry events on five consecutive days and there just wasn’t enough space in the programme – so we have decided to give poetry its own slot.”
The festival gets underway on October 4, which is also National Poetry Day, and will include a poetry space in the library along with activities across the town including an open mic night.
“A large part of the programme’s content is local talent and local poets,” Mr Holland said. “The Swindon Festival of Poetry is a truly home-grown product and definitely proud to be from Swindon.”
Emily Harrison, who won the Oxford Christ Church Tower Poetry Competition, also treated the crowd to a bitter love poem and another about people who lack humility.
The 20-year-old, of Blunsdon , said: “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the poetry, and more importantly the people, of Swindon.
“I’m very excited about the festival.”
Council leader Rod Bluh also hailed Swindon’s rising stock as a cultural zone.
“This is another reminder of the strength of what’s going on in Swindon,” he said.
“When I heard about this and that Matt was involved, I knew it was going to be a success. Building on the Festival of Literature this is a fantastic thing to add on. One thing I have learned in eight-and-a-half years of being a councillor and six-and-a-half years of being leader is the amazing talent we have in this town.
“It is quite humbling when I come across it in places you don’t expect it.
“I have become a total convert to the part arts and culture have got to play in Swindon life.”