When it’s Spring in Swindon, it’s also the start of the festival season and tickets are now on sale for events at the 18th Swindon Festival of Literature.
With its line-up of novelists, poets, politicians, philosophers, scientists, storytellers, sportsmen, historians, comedians, artists and activists, it will put a spring in your step. The festival is a celebration of ideas: serious, fascinating, and funny. Going to the festival is like opening a book, when you start reading, you never quite know what you will discover.
This year, like all the others, the festival offers tremendous entertainment, exploration and ideas galore, for all ages and tastes. It sets out to prove that when readers meet writers, and writers meet readers, enjoyable, interesting, challenging, worthwhile, unpredictable, amusing and memorable things happen.
From Spring Bank Holiday, Monday 2 May until Saturday 14 May, there will be events at midday, teatime, and in the evening, carefully spaced and placed to enable you to attend almost every one.
The 40 page festival programme is now available from libraries and information centres and also www.swindonfestivalofliterature.co.uk
Launching No.18 at Central Library on 17 March, from top, coun Gary Perkins, Matt Holland, and 18 year old Maisey Saunders
Whose coming? Matt Holland describes the line-up
This year’s Festival focuses on both the mind and the body; the whole person, our well being, mens sana in corpore sano, the wish for good health in mind and body.
Since it’s the Festival’s eighteenth birthday, it plans to celebrate, like any hale and hearty eighteen year old, and to enjoy life to the full, in mind, body, and spirit.
For example, it will kick off not only with its unique and popular Dawn Chorus, a sunrise celebration of mental and physical frolics, fun, and the rising sun at 5.30am in Lawn Woods but will also offer a Bank Holiday Monday of all-round health-enhancing activities.
There will be a health walk, a gentle run, and a short bike ride. These activities will be followed by a talk for walkers, a talk and discussion for runners, and an illustrated presentation for cyclists. In fact, any Festival followers who like the idea of ministering to the health and well being of their mind and body will be welcome to any or all these events.
Helping to make this a memorable first day of thought-provoking physical and mental activities will be cycling guru, enthusiast, and author Rob Penn, veteran distance runner and writer Bruce Tulloh, and parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt.
During the subsequent thirteen days, there is a host of other fascinating authors booked to appear. These include TV funny man Harry Hill with his hilarious book Livin the Dreem; writer and TV presenter Sally Magnusson with her intriguing new book Life of Pee (yes, pee); independently-minded politician and former BBC correspondent Martin Bell with his book A British Revolution, which takes a very close look at politicians and their expenses; actress, novelist, and broadcaster Esther Freud; and television panelist and poker player Victoria Coren with her book For Richer, For Poorer.
There will also be plenty of novelists and poets as well as other authors and speakers. These include Michael Wood on the story of England; Robin Hanbury Tenison on world exploration; Gavin Pretor-Pinney on the world of waves; Kate Rew on swimming in the wild; John Gimlette on the wild coast of a southern continent; Prof Lewis Wolpert on ageing well; Kate Figes on the challenges and joys of coupledom; David Constantine on the art and pleasure of short stories; and Stephen Wynn on the worries of sons in a war.
As well as known names, there will also be a good number of other key events!
During the two weeks of Festival frolics, described by John Carey as ‘terrific’, by Joan Bakewell as ‘delightful’, by John Major as ‘punctual’, by Jon Snow as ‘a real surprise’, and by Shaun B as ‘comparable to sex’, there will also be the now nationally-famous Swindon Performance Poetry Slam competition, the schools’ Youth Slam, a bookishly-brilliant day for all ages, the Children & Families Day, the second-ever philosophical Think Slam competition, a cliff-hanging Swindon Speakers Short Stories competition, a Life Writing Workshop, the second Battered Moons Poetry competition, the launch of a new magazine Domestic Cherry, the oh-so-exciting Poems, Pints, & Music Finale, plus a wide range of literary talks, discussions, and readings at main theatres, arts venues, libraries, schools, pubs, parks, and even in an ex-cowshed, in Swindon!
Festival Director Matt Holland says “The Festival’s profile and reputation continue to grow. It has become a veritable festival of ideas. Each year it attracts new writers, terrific speakers, and a larger following. At every level, it has become a fantastic celebration for Swindon of things well written and things well said.”
He added, “It offers experiences for everyone that make life memorable. 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. It is all very exciting!”
The 2011 Swindon Festival of Literature is made possible by funding from Arts Council England, South West, whose support represents recognition of the good things that have been achieved in Literature development in Swindon.
Financial support is also provided by Dominic Winter Book Auctions; Swindon Borough Council’s Culture Swindon & Artswords; the Council’s Community Learning project; Research Councils UK; and Lower Shaw Farm; plus valuable support and assistance from First Great Western, the Swindon Advertiser, Holland Handling Recycling, the Swindon Link Magazine, SwindonWeb, Acorn Press, Waterstone’s Bookshop, Friends of the Festival, as well as a host of other local organisations and individuals.
It is heartening that all these people see the value of a festival of Literature in Swindon!
The full-colour 36-page Festival programme will be unveiled at midday on Thursday 17th March 2011 at Swindon’s prize-winning Central Library.
To go on the Festival mailing list, or for further information, telephone 01793 771080 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org