Tuesday, 19 May 2015

22nd Swindon Festival of Literature

When I looked at the programme, I thought it looked like the best ever selection of speakers, with some excellent double bills. It was hard making a decision about which talks to go to, the choice was excellent and varied. My festival started with the Dawn Chorus on 4 May, and then I resisted going to too many talks, these listed were unmissable as far as I was concerned
First things first, the books I bought:
The first talk was 'Empathy' by Roman Krznaric on the power and place of empathy, below the empty stage as we waited for Roman
 and here he is struggling to connect with the audience because he can't see them against the bright lights. He made a lot of sense when talking about human connections and communication and I bought the book.
 I had a ticket for Daisy Christodoulou's talk on 7 myths about education, but had to give my ticket for that talk away because I was needed elsewhere.
On so onto a very powerful couple of speakers on Sunday evening:

Will Hutton on how we can improve things for the majority in this country, rather than just the minority. He was excellent, I bought his book 'How Good We Can Be'.
And next came Danny Dorling, on injustice, inequality and where our children will make a home. He also made a lot of sense, and made me see things in a different way. I bought his book, 'Inequality and the 1%' which I am reading now.
I have included 2 photos of Danny because they both show him emphasising  apoint in a slightly different way:
Monday night, Helen Lederer did some brilliant autobiographical stand up pieces, and was generally very funny, here she is after the signing. It seems flippant to say I loved her hair, how does she get it like that? And her eyes are a fabulous piercing blue.
After Helen came Peter Tatchell, a brilliantly passionate, fluent speaker. I could listen to him all day. How does he get ideas so straightened out in his head? He didn't have a book to promote, he was invited to talk about his journey form Christianity to Humanism.
Another day, another 2 speakers, Tuesday evening brought Robert Hewison seen below talking to Matt Holland, festival organiser, about the importance of culture in our society, he was very convincing and I bought the book, 'Cultural Capital.
Here's the second 'act', Julian Spalding talking about discovering, seeing and understanding art. He's a former director of galleries in Manchester, Sheffield and Glasgow, and has some interesting ideas. Two people who are reading his book say he's inspired.
And just as I thought I'd never have time to upload these photos to the blog, or have a night in at home, it was the last night, for me, although the festival formally ended on Saturday evening.
Shami Chakrabarti talked about human rights past present and future, encouraging us all to join the group Liberty. Shami was an inspirational, witty and energetic speaker. She spoke with great clarity and many examples of what she was talking about, and described Swindon as the political centre of the UK, always a good touch. I bought the book, 'On Liberty'.
And last but not least Jacqueline Rose talking about visionary women like Rosa Luxembourg and Marilyn Monroe change our thinking about feminism.
Phew, what a great festival, and I only attended a fraction of things happening. For more information, please visit www.swindonfestivalofliterature.co.uk and have a look at their blog: www.festivalchronicle.com where you will find many more, better quality photographs and more detailed coverage of each event.

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