It's not just a book thing!
There were a number of workshops taking place over the weekend, but a one-to-one session with poet Candy Neubert, back at the festival for another year, was a unique chance to have work read by a professional prior to meeting and it was fantastic to hear not just general advice but also specific feedback on my work.
The Southbank Sinfonia Soiree on Saturday teatime felt like a little pool of calm, the Town Church hosting just under an hour of poetry and classical music from the period of time around the First World War. It was a beautifully put together set, marrying the talents of the Sinfonia with those of the Shared Reading Project to honour a period in history.
For the Festival’s first ever Literary Cabaret, a healthy crowd packed into the Hub just as the sun was starting to fade. Irrepressible comedy troupe Guernsey Improbables hosted the event and brought a manic energy to proceedings. The show kicked off with a set from the Ukuladeez and then there were readings by both local and visiting poets, performances by college students and an open mic segment. The Improbables glued the whole thing together with various literary-themed improvised comedy games, culminating in an improvised opera, by the end of which I was crying. If you can, book to see the Improbables at the Sure Comedy Festival on June 3rd.
Neil, who completed half a degree in Doctor Who before realising, “it was stupid,” and wife Sue, who was more interested in building houses than watching television, embarked on a plan to watch every single episode of the classic series of Doctor Who and to record their observations online. Neil discussed his love of Doctor Who, the couple’s reasons for beginning the project and the weird world of ‘whovian‘ (sorry Neil) fan culture into which their blog catapulted them. He admitted to being disappointed that the reason the blog gained such a following was Sue’s fresh perspective – lots of Doctor Who fans had written about the programme but a non-obsessive’s point of view was a rare thing.
Throughout his talk, Neil illustrated his points with clips and pictures from the programme, but as he said, his book Adventures With The Wife In Space is about more than Doctor Who – more a modern tale of love, obsession, sharing, viewing something from a different angle.
After that, it was off to Costa where Suzanne Daldry lead a Shared Reading session in which we read aloud and then discussed ‘David Swan’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne and ‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost. Such is the nature of the Festival, by this point in the weekend I found that a lot of people in the group I had met earlier, so it was nice to see some friendly faces and to discuss the short pieces of writing. It was also great to sample some of the work the Reader Organisation does in using Shared Reading to bring people together.
Elevated to judge status within thirty seconds of walking into St James’, I watched the Poetry Slam Final feeling a new sense of responsibility. John Paul O’Neill of Farrago Poetry hosted the event, introducing to the stage fantastic slam poets Katie Bonna and Deanna Rodger and the local students with whom these three inspiring poets had worked with to produce pieces for the Final. Full marks to the groups who eschewed the sunshine and the high tide in favour of performing, you were all deserving champions.