Angela France

Guest Poet: Angela France

Angela France has had poems published in many of the leading journals and has been anthologised a number of times. Her publications include Occupation (Ragged Raven Press, 2009), Lessons in Mallemaroking (Nine Arches Press, 2011), Hide (Nine Arches Press 2013) and The Hill (Nine Arches Press 2017). She has an MA in Creative and Critical Writing and a PhD from the University of Gloucestershire. Angela teaches creative writing at the University of Gloucestershire and in various community settings. She runs a reading series in Cheltenham, 'Buzzwords'.

Robert Walton

Guest Poet: Robert Walton

Robert Walton's first collection, Workings (Gomer), won the Welsh Arts Council's New Poet Award back in 1978. He stopped writing for twenty years but resumed in the late 90s, working with artists in music, dance, film and storytelling, recording a CD, Nomad '64, with cult band Mopti. His chapbook, Waiting for the Wave (Pighog), appeared in 2012 and his long-awaited second collection, Sax Burglar Blues (Seren) has just been published. He recently completed his PhD, is a member of Bristol-based poetry workshop and performance group The Spoke, and teaches Creative Writing at Cardiff University.

25th January 2018, The Swan Hotel, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire BA15 1LN

"There is a comfort in shortening days, / in dark-at-five and damp roads shining" begins Angela France's poem Cold Comfort, from her new collection The Hill, and there was comfort indeed in settling down in the Coach House at the Swan in January to experience Angela's excellent show based on and around the book. The show is a layering - of Angela's readings, images and recordings, some about the natural details of the geographical feature in question, Leckhampton Hill, near Cheltenham, and others the enormously effective voicings of archive material surrounding the true - and celebratory - story of how ordinary people reclaimed the land beneath their feet. The book's clamour of voices (including fox and 'brock') and the shape of language on the ear, makes for a rich and rewarding narrative - gorgeous to listen to and see, then a real treat to read and savour later. And there was more mesmeric sound from Robert (Bob) Walton, whose gorgeous poetry, lyrical and witty by turns, shared the platform with song, saxophone and finger piano (all his!) for a set that also made a point of being 'celebratory, against the current grain'. Particularly memorable was Making a Herringbone Harris Tweed Garment, from his new collection, Sax Burglar Blues, which is also a layering, this time of repeated lines, of colour and of things from the natural world - "She sews the black and grey and blue, the dye / of the mussel-bed, the myrtle, the kittiwake, / wave, machair and sky". And as if this wasn't enough, we also had a truly impressive collection of voices in the open mic (an honour, in fact, to present them all) - thank you to Pey Oh Colborne, Stephen Payne, John Hawkhead, Rachael Clyne, Mark Sayers, Michelle Diaz, Crysse Morrison, Rosie Jackson, Anne Gregson, Paul Brokensha, John Powell and Peter O'Grady.