In August 2007, The Link was the first media to report the coming of Commonhead, an exciting new reading and writing venture for Swindon, writes Alexandra Martin.
Two local writers, Hilda Sheehan and myself, together with Swindon Council Literature Development worker Matt Holland, announced that we planned to publish a new book of writing and illustration that would be ‘a good read from Swindon.’
In subsequent weeks we were inundated with contributions of poetry, prose, cartoons, puzzles, opinions, philosophy and photographs. Submissions came from established writers and new talent, mainly from the Swindon area, but some from as far afield as Australia.
Commonhead took shape during the winter, thanks in no small part to sponsorship from Swindon Council’s Artswords project, Swindon Festival of Literature and Dominic Winter Book Auctions.
In January 2008 the editors started the tricky task of selecting the writers and illustrators whose work would be published. It was not easy. The quality of work submitted was very high and there was lots of lively debate about which pieces to include. Above all, it was important to make sure there was a balanced selection, in order to make Commonhead a good read for as many people as possible.
Commonhead is in every respect a Swindon publication. Not only is most of the writing by local people, but Purton designers Pink Handbag undertook the book’s layout and the striking cover image is a specially commissioned work by local artist Gordon Dickinson. It was printed by Acorn Press in Westlea.
Commonhead was launched on 5 May on the opening day of the fifteenth Swindon Festival of Literature, toasted with champagne in the pouring rain at 5.30am at the Dawn Chorus. Later in the day many of the writers and avid readers saw the new volume unveiled at Swindon Arts Centre.
Since then copies have been selling well. If you would like your own ‘good read from Swindon’, Commonhead is available from the four main libraries, the Tourist Information Centre, Swindon Arts Centre, or from Borders and Waterstones bookstores, priced at £4.99.
To find out more, contact the editors at: email@example.com or write to: PO Box 3291, Swindon SN2 9EB.
Alexandra Martin, right, promotes Commonhead at the Festival of Literature