Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Frome Festival 2007 has begun.
The sun arrived late and flustered but just in time for the launch at Cafe Cadenza, which omenises well for the week ahead (Shakespeare allegedly invented 1700 words so I reckon I'm allowed one now and again). Annabelle, who with Laurie and David makes up the wonderful Trio Svengali, charmed our twin-town guests with her fluent french welcome, with a few words for uncomprehending too: Tant pis...
Bob Morris as Festival Chairman used plain english for the subject of Lottery rejections: "It's hard not be bitter. So I will be. The price of the Olympic logo would provide funding for Frome Festival for fifteen years." Maybe another tant pis situation?

Saturday is the Writers In Residence contest, which sees the cafes and shops of Frome window-dressed with writers, busy scribbling their responses to the same trigger line. Twelve contestants from as far afield as Bournemouth, and amazingly everybody seemed to get their ideal venue; from coffee addicts in cafes to the smiling guy located opposite the changing rooms in Boho... Hazel's blog gives an insider's insight on the day & more pictures: Here's Tracy, Tim, Alan, and organiser Sally with Alison, who runs the short story competition.

Saturday afternoon was Mike's radio show 'Focus on Frome Poets' so I took my transister downtown - great to sit by the river listening to Lindsay Clarke, Rose Flint, and a whole range of work from other local voices.
And in the evening, with the main road closed, local bands playing, and summer finally remembering what it's supposed to be doing, the World Food Fest was simply brilliant.

There's an Art Trail too... which includes the gardens of the Blue House beside the bridge, where 'Happy and Glorious', life-size, by Marian Bruce lurks in the woodland rim of the garden like the last rebellious contestant refusing to leave the Big Brother Diary Room.

At the Library on Sunday, the Just Write! workshops went well for Rosie Jackson and Julia McCutchen, while agent Jane Judd had a full day and a waiting list for her 1:1s, with writers arriving from as far afield as Liverpool and London.

Monday night is the big one for me: as well as star guest World Slam Champion Elvis Mcgonagall the Poetry Cafe features an open-mic contest for the title Frome Festival Poet Laureate - a kind-of slam, but with a softer edge, aiming to encourage the widest range of voices possible. This odd hybrid actually turned out to be a totally amazing evening, with wonderfully varied authentic voices. Elvis is inexorably awesome, but the twelve open-mic poets who offered their words were also hugely enjoyed, with some powerful and moving pieces. Recalled to the mic were Dave Angus of Bath and debut performer Jennie Gilling, who won jointly: Jennie took the bubbly and Dave is now the new Frome Festival Poet Laureate. Probably the best Frome Poetry Cafe ever.
Thanks to Will Angeloro's sound system, over 60 people crammed into the Garden Cafe to hear Elvis on politics (Blair as a cowboy executive in europe: "The freedom & democracy combo I installed was perfectly alright when I left it"), media (the celebrity chef who can feed 5000 children on a rocket leaf) and global warming (people with huge carbon footprints telling us what to do). He rocketed the evening to a fantastic start with his poetic polemic: politics, verse, and stand-up comedy mixed into an intoxicating brew with a potent aftertaste. Elvis deals with serious stuff like war and climate change in a way that’s hilarious and passionate too, and his poems are as up-to-the minute as the last match at Wimbledon. My personal faves: Taking tea with the Taliban (a la Noel Coward) Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen Powers, and the one with the catchy title Greek Islands And The Inexorable March of Western Cultural Hegemony. The CDs were grabbled like wellies at a wet Glastonbury.

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