Idly scrolling through Facebook as you do, I came across a video. It’s made by CREATE studios and features Swindon Community poet, Tony Hillier and his poem ‘Swindon Diamonds’. I somehow managed to miss it – never mind, I’ve found it now.
It’s wonderful! Share it far and wide. It needs to be seen!
‘A new poem celebrating Swindon in its 175th year as a railway town has been released with an accompanying video.
Swindon Diamonds is read by its creator, community poet Tony Hillier, who performed at many of the key locations mentioned in the poem.
The poem, a celebration of Swindon and its achievements, was commissioned by Swindon and Cirencester-based motor dealer, Pebley Beach as part of the firm’s support of Swindon 175, which marks 175 years since the railway arrived in the town.
It was first performed as part of Swindon Festival of Literature back in September.
The video was filmed and edited by Swindon-based Create Studios.’
Well done to Tony and to CREATE studios. Super, fab, stirring stuff.
“John Richard Jefferies (6 November 1848 – 14 August 1887) was an English nature writer, noted for his depiction of English rural life in essays, books of natural history, and novels. His childhood on a small Wiltshire farm had a great influence on him and provides the background to all his major works of fiction.
Jeffries’ corpus of writings includes a diversity of genres and topics, including Bevis (1882), a classic children’s book, and After London(1885), an early work of science fiction.
For much of his adult life, he suffered from tuberculosis, and his struggles with the illness and with poverty also play a role in his writing. Jefferies valued and cultivated an intensity of feeling in his experience of the world around him, a cultivation that he describes in detail in The Story of My Heart (1883). This work, an introspective depiction of his thoughts and feelings on the world, gained him the reputation of a nature mystic at the time. But it is his success in conveying his awareness of nature and people within it, both in his fiction and in essay collections such as The Amateur Poacher (1879) and Round About a Great Estate (1880), that has drawn most admirers. Walter Besant wrote of his reaction on first reading Jefferies: “Why, we must have been blind all our lives; here were the most wonderful things possible going on under our very noses, but we saw them not.”
The good people at the Richard Jefferies Museum have been involved with a community action project and were in the running for an award. Read about that here:
The Community Action Project
‘The aims of the project: to rescue the site so that it would be available to future generations and not lost through financial need or resource limitations of the Local Authority; to reach a point of development where we could sign a lease with the Local Authority, and take charge of the site, thus taking its future into the hands of the community; to achieve a standard of museum care that would warrant ACE Accreditation, developing a strong and sustainable business plan, and a firm focus on creating a community asset that builds on and promotes the often unknown, but rich, heritage of Swindon.’
Here’s a link to a You Tube film explaining all about it.
The Penny Readings are great fun and a fabulous connector between sections of the community. The next one is on the last Tuesday of October so come along and have some fun. Oh – they’re at the Central Community Centre from 11am to 1pm.
Organized by the lovely people involved in Poetry Swindon: Hilda Sheehan, Michael Scott, Maurice Spillane, Mike Pringle et al this was a perfectly punny poetic presentation. Okay – I’ll try and stop with the alliteration now.
Incidentally, Mike Pringle has an alter ego as Lady Dada – who knew?
Now – in case you’re wondering what all the DaDa stuff is about – read on:
According to that fount of all knowledge Wikipeadia, Dadaism is:
The term anti-art, a precursor to Dada, was coined by Marcel Duchamp around 1913 when he created his first readymades, Dada, in addition to being anti-war, had political affinities with the radical left and was also anti-bourgeois.”
‘Associated with the Dada, Surrealist, Cubist, and Futurist movements, Marcel Duchamp radically subverted conventional practices of artmaking and display, challenging such weighty notions as the hand of the artist and the sanctity of the art object.’
Being as Dadaism is a thread running through the festival we were treated to a Dadaist reading from Micheal Scott. Different.
There were also readings from Hilda Sheehan, the terrific Tony Hiller and the young Sophie Daniels amongst others. Sophie is the delightful daughter of Stephen Daniels – another doyenne of Poetry Swindon – is a budding poet herself. She did a super reading for us at the July Penny Reading event and did a splendid job yesterday. I am, frankly, in awe.
The entire event was brilliant fun and gives the lie to any notion that poetry automatically is dull and stuffy. You’ve only to see Lady DaDa (aka Mike Pringle) and Hilda Sheehan enact the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet (allegedly) waving Blue Gate/Poetry Swindon plaques as cunningly designed cue cards to see that.
In a town that has a Mechanics’ Institute – albeit a decrepit one – this is an entirely appropriate venture. Why? Read on …
Swindon penny Readings poster
When and Where:
Okay – properly speaking these new Penny Readings would be in the Mechanics’. Sadly that’s not possible but at least we have the wonderful Health Hydro so hurrah for that!
The first one will take place on Tuesday the 28th June 2016 at the Health Hydro on Milton Road in front of that wonderful trompe l’oeil mural.
11am – 1pm
FREE admission – all welcome
So dig out your favourite poem, tune up your vocal chords or your guitar and come along! It’ll be fun.
Some photos of the mural in the Health Hydro:
A bit about Penny Readings
Penny Readings – as the name rather implies – were performances of poems, songs and readings for which the admission was 1d .
In a time, the 19th century, when many people were illiterate or at least had no regular access to books the Penny Readings were popular public entertainment. The iTines and YouTube of their day if you like.
Penny readings, however, appealed for a period in both urban and country settings. They were significant as a way forward for the Mechanics’ Institutes set up in the early Victorian period, where they became a staple activity, along with smoking concerts and study for scientific qualifications. In the fictionalised Candleford Green of Flora Thompson, the penny reading, although outmoded elsewhere, was “still going strong” in the 1890s.”
And from this site called ‘Victorian London’: ‘… Now when my energetic old friend Smith, president of the Boughtborough Histrionic Club, chairman of the local Mechanics’ Institution, and the great promoter of all intellectual amusements in the borough, established the Penny Readings, and subsequently saluted me whenever we met, with, “You should come and hear me read,” I, while replying, “I shall come and hear you some of these odd times,” mentally put it down as another case of Bishop of Batterseaism. But as I began to hear upon all hands that the Penny Readings were “jolly things,” and were “drawing immensely,” I determined to attend one of the Boughtborough Penny Readings to hear my friend Smith read. Accordingly one Saturday night I wended my way to the Boughtborough music ball, a little before eight o’clock, at [-170-] which hour the doors of the hall were to be opened. The hall was capable of holding fifteen hundred persons, and when I arrived in front of it, there was, so far as I was able to judge, more than that number of persons waiting outside…” You can read more of that here:http://www.victorianlondon.org/publications/habits-10.htm