It was a great pleasure to read at the Swindon Shuffle event on Thursday. Our co-host was the lovely Hilda Sheehan of Blue Gate Poets. As well as being a fine poet and prolific writer, Hilda is clearly a major driving force for poetry good in Swindon, and I’m hoping to be able to reciprocate sometime soon and invite her down to Lewes for a reading.
I took with me both my husband and my brother- & sister-in-law who told me they’d never been to a poetry reading before, which made me a tad nervous. I needn’t have been though – the mix of poetry and music, together with several breaks, meant it was perfect for poetry ‘virgins’.
In the first half we heard talented local up-and-coming Jadine Eagle followed by the experienced and widely published Anna-May Laugher from Reading, and an acoustic set from auralcandy which went down particularly well. Stephen Payne and I read after the break (great to hear his set – Stephen was picked by Smith’s Knoll for mentoring and publication, so clearly a fine poet) and the evening finished with a two-piece called Wave Dance, playing what my sister-in-law confidently knew to be surfer hippy music (from her cheesecloth and VW Campervan days) which I really enjoyed, especially the fascinating array of percussion instruments, ranging from a hotel desk bell to vintage Fairy Liquid bottles filled with rice.
I think the four poets each offered something quite different, and mixing it up with music was really fun. Plus, my non-poet guests said they’d had a great time and hadn’t been scared off by anything too hardcore, so that was gratifying. A success all round!
My only reservation about the evening was there not being any alcohol available (The Core is a juice bar) – even though the atmosphere was chilled, people were very friendly and the juices got good reviews. Personally I don’t drink before I read (could’ve killed for a glass of Chardonnay afterwards though), but I appreciate an audience that’s, shall we say, a little loosened up – perhaps that’s churlish of me? Sadly I missed the post-event drink in the pub, as we had to get back to Newbury, but next time hopefully!