This town has had twenty-five years of Swindon Festivals of Literature, and this year may have been the best yet, with new novelists, established authors, hidden gems, and the wearing of short-sleeves at the Dawn Chorus, courtesy of the rising sun and early warm weather.
On subsequent days, Gill Sims told us Why Mummy Drinks; Afua Hirsch spoke about being asked where she is actually from; and Will Self told us about the important effects of good writing on the brain.
Professor Edith Hall reckoned that reading Aristotle could help us be both kind and happy; John Tusa told us that our body knows where we belong; and Anna Machin pointed out that when a man becomes a father his level of testosterone goes down.
Peggy Seeger reminded us that music is in us; Charles Landry suggested we all get involved in soft place-making; and Kevin Toolis said that our first and last hope is to be born in a place we can love and be among people who love us.
Harriet Harman shared her reasons for writing her memoir, A Women’s Work; A C Grayling said that our right was to have good enough government; and Helen Pankhurst pointed out that usually men are dinosaurs but that women can be too.
Alan Winfield told us about his robot that ran for two weeks on dead flies; through stories and songs, Louise Jordan brilliantly told us about forgotten women in war; Camila Batmanghelidjh detailed conspiracies behind the collapse of Kids Company; and Cat Weatherill helped people with stories become storytellers.
But all good things must change and adapt to keep growing and thriving. The organisers are announcing that this was likely to have been the last pure and simple Swindon Festival of Literature. Next year, it plans to bud, bloom, and grow into the Swindon Spring Festival – of the Arts.
With its slogan life is for learning, the Festival has always welcomed new ideas and new connections, with other art forms. So, next year, literature hopes to live, thrive, and work alongside dance, drama, art, music, film, circus skills, and other performance arts.
They are looking for partners among Swindon’s creative communities, organisations, and individuals.
If you want to help make a Swindon Spring Festival – of the Arts happen, please get in touch and the contact e-mails below. Or, if you simply want to keep in touch as potential participant or audience member, watch out for more e-news.