It was standing room only at Swindon Festival of Literature’s event, ‘Poetry in the Sitting Room’. OK, The Richard Jefferies Museum, (apostrophe not often used) has small rooms as it is a 19 Century farmhouse, but the sitting room really was packed with twenty wordy souls tonight.

And a mix of souls too. Old familiar faces on the Swindon poetry scene as well as new faces who were warmly welcomed. Twenty people when comedienne and political activist Francesca Martinez and We Need to Talk About Kevin, author, Lionel Shriver, were on at the same time in the Swindon Arts Centre (no apostrophe of course).

It was the laid back, but effective, ambience that made the night; a night led by Sam Lovelace and Hilda Sheehan who kept steady hands on the MS Jefferies’ tiller when any jocular heckling went nearly too far. (apostrophe spot number two).

The usual healthy, heady mix of descriptive, clever, thought-provoking, and humorous words was shared. These were topped off by established poets’ verse. Some ancient rhymers (not a mariner in sight) had their dust jackets well and truly dusted off. John gave us some witty, cutthroat Australian verse. Lisa, back from Aylesbury, perfectly impersonated Pam Ayres.

Who would have expected a stunning, heart-stopping rendition from rave musical theatre ‘Hamilton’ by one young woman who was later to enthral us with her poetic prose that sorted out the psychologist.

Words transported us to Zimbabwe and Zambia, to a lost loved one, several non-obvious rhymes with ‘banker’, Saturday Night’s Slam, and an arsonist. The Stred & son Erin, along with Jackie of Bardwell renown, treated us to drums, guitar and a tea poem plus an original Jefferies poem-song. Beautiful.

Standing room only for a mix of souls.


Swindon’s Community Poet, Tony Hillier, reviews Swindon Festival of Literature’s event, ‘Poetry in the Sitting Room’ at the Richard Jefferies Museum 8 May 2017.


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