Get The Word Out
The written word is being celebrated at two county events next month
By Sarah Becker
Two free events celebrating poetry and literature will be taking place in Northampton and Kettering next month.
The Bardic Picnic will be taking place at the Umbrella Fair, Racecourse Pavilion, on September 16, while across the county, the Kettering Festival of Literature will be celebrating book-related events across Kettering town centre.
The highlight of the Bardic Picnic, now in its fourteenth year, is to elect the new Bard of Northampton in a spoken word competition.
Contestants will battle in three rounds of a slam contest at the Bardic Picnic organised by the current Bard of Northampton Chris Matthewman, event coordinator Tamsyn Payne and supported by the Northamptonshire Community Foundation.
Hosted by local poet The Word Guerrilla (Dave Bowden) the annual event will also feature showcases from different spoken word events including from award-winning R&B night ‘Lay it Down’ and from local poetry group, ‘Get the Word Out.’
Local bands, ‘The Lunar Trixies’ and ‘Rozism’ will be playing and craft and community stalls will be displaying ware.
Current Bard of Northampton, Chris Matthewman says:
“This year we really hope to engage wordsmiths from diverse backgrounds, genres and styles whether that’s rappers, spoken-word artists or more traditional poets. The Bardic Picnic is a terrific opportunity to hear work from some of our great local poets, alongside music and other forms of creative expression.”
It will take place from 12 - 10pm on Saturday 16th September at The Umbrella Fair, Racecourse Pavilion, Kettering Road, Northampton.
Kettering Festival of Literature
On the same day, writers will be celebrated at a day-long festival of book-related events held across Kettering town centre.
More than 20 authors will provide talks and poetry readings at the event organised by Kettering Civic Society and funded by a grant from Historic England as part of Kettering’s Cultural Consortium.
The Corn Market Hall will be taken over for the day, with the festival hub offering sales tables to authors. Local author Ian Addis will share stories of his friend and colleague, eminent writer, J. L. Carr who was also a headteacher at Highfields Primary School. J L. Carr’s son, Bob will also attend the festival bringing a selection of his father’s works to the Corn Market Hall.
Another favourite Northamptonshire author, H.E. Bates will be the subject of a talk by his granddaughter, Victoria Wicks.
The BB Society will talk about children’s author Denys Watkins Pitchford M.B.E.
Readings of John Clare’s work and other past and present-day poets will take place in the Church of St Peter and St Paul.
To accompany the festival a poetry and prose competition for all ages on the subject of ‘Change’ has been launched.
For further information on The Bardic Picnic email: email@example.com and for more on the Kettering Festival of Literature email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Becker spoke to the very first winner of the Bardic Picnic in 2009, comedian Donna Scott and the current Bard Chris Matthewman, about winning the title of Bard of Northampton.
Describe the piece that you won the Bardic competition with?
Chris: “The theme for last year’s competition was self-love, and I wrote a piece comparing myself to a horse
“This may, or may not sound loving, but the idea for the piece was that although I do quite like me, I don’t always look after myself as well as I should. My health, my mental health and general wellbeing are like my horse - I will only go as far as they do. If I don’t look after them, we’re both knackered.”
Donna: “I won the competition with a poem called Finding My Feet. It was a poem about how I was a newcomer to the town, but had already found so much to love about it. There was a refrain people could join in with that went "I'm finding my feet, finding my feet, finding my feet in Shoetown," which people seemed to enjoy.
Part of the competition involved setting yourself goals to achieve as Bard involving promoting spoken word events county-wide.
Did you manage to achieve any of the goals you set for yourself after winning the competition?
Donna: “I'm a huge plate spinner when it comes to projects and aspirations. Immediately after winning, I found the worlds of comedy and literature pulling me away from poetry.
“I set up a comedy night called We Are Most Amused which was really popular, and I think helped hugely in establishing grass roots comedy in the town. I've arranged a few poetry nights and I'm also part of ‘Arts Lab’ and have been part of the team organising comedy, poetry, cabaret, plays and publications.”
Chris: “I have had the pleasure of participating in and promoting many spoken word events that have taken place in Northamptonshire.
“I have had the opportunity to do a poetry workshop for The Lab’s Skill Swap project, with my friend Nathan Jones, a previous Bard of Northampton.
“I also wanted to support a local adult-literacy charity called Read Easy Northampton. That has included writing and performing a piece for their annual Reader Celebration event last week, and I am doing my own spoken-word show – ‘Chapter & Verse’ as a fundraiser for them, with Dave Boden (Word Guerilla) in the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery on 9th September.”
Have you any tips for contestants taking part this year?
Chris: “Work on your writing, work on your delivery, and give some thought to who might be in your audience and what may resonate with them.”
What has been the highlight for you?
Donna: “Every Bardic Picnic is a delight. I enjoy being asked to judge the competition. It's a chance to hear new talent, and encourage the next bunch.
“I am not necessarily talking about the young either. People can come to art at any time of life. I love how this competition doesn't impose limits on people, such as a maximum number of attempts, age, experience etc. It's very inclusive.”
What style of spoken word piece would you like to see win the competition?
Chris: “I hope that whoever wins has written something that means something to them, will mean something to others, and delivers their piece with passion and thought given to their performance.
Donna: “Usually everyone is so positive, which is great... but an angry rant would be delicious, I think! Why not?”