As winter turns to spring and snowdrops spear up through frozen ground, work towards the next Swindon Festival of Literature goes on apace, writes festival director Matt Holland.
Making plans for May for a fantastic festival of outdoor literary frolics and indoor intellectual delights, requires a particular leap of faith not only because of all the work involved but also because this will be Swindon?s thirteenth festival of literature. Now is the time that the lit fest team makes that leap, tries to keep the faith, and rise above suspect numerical superstitions.
The timetable is a tight one and the schedule gruelling. First there is funding. An arts festival costs money, which is not always easy to secure. Then there are authors, performers and venues to be found and booked. This means countless letters, journeys, meetings, ?phone calls, not a few tricky negotiations, and the occasional slice of luck. No different, perhaps, to anyone else?s business and work in these challenging 21st Century times.
Things are looking good. Authors already booked to appear for 1 to 13 May include veteran BBC news reporter Kate Adie, top, with her book Nobody?s Child, prize-winning columnist and social commentator Matthew Parris, centre, former Tory minister turned novelist and television celebrity Anne Widdicombe, bottom, Oxford professor and arts commentator John Carey, BBC2 and Radio 4 arts reviewer Mark Lawson, glamorous television historian Bettany Hughes, northern poet and funnyman Les Barker, alternative magazine editor and friend of Prince Charles Satish Kumar, man of lists Nick Hornby, actress and voice of many parts Anna Massey, and local author and lively new kid on the best-seller block Annie Waller.
Negotiations are also underway with Simon Callow, Stephen Fry, Melvyn Bragg, Roger McGough, and an array of other writers and performers.
This year?s triskaidekaphobia-defying thirteenth Swindon Festival of Literature starts in Lawn Woods at dawn on Bank Holiday Monday 1 May with the ever popular Dawn Chorus.
Apart from the above-mentioned famous names, the subsequent 12 days also include the Clive Brain Memorial Lecture, the now nationally-famous Swindon Poetry Slam, the second Swindon Youth Poetry Slam, a Children & Families Weekend, plus a wide range of literary talks, performances, discussions, and readings at arts venues, the university, libraries, schools, pubs, parks, and even woodlands in and around Swindon.
It is all very exciting! The festival?s profile and reputation continue to grow. At every level, it has become a fantastic celebration for Swindon of things well written and things well said. People of all ages and backgrounds have a very good time.
They get together, meet authors, join in lively talk, explore new ideas, and even have a laugh!
The full festival programme will be published on 16 March. To go on the festival mailing list, call 771080 or
Backing the festival The 2006 Swindon Festival of Literature is made possible by funding from the Arts Council of England, South West, whose support represents recognition of what has been achieved in literature development in Swindon.
Financial support is also provided by Dominic Winter Book Auctions, Swindon Borough Council, the University of Bath in Swindon, Swindon Learning Partnership, Lower Shaw Farm and the Open University, as well as valuable support and assistance from First Great Western, the National Union of Teachers, the Evening Advertiser, Holland Handling, Acorn Press, Waterstone?s and Borders Bookshops, Friends of the Festival, a host of other local organisations and individuals and of course, SwindonLink.