This was a wonderful evening of poetry, storytelling and live music at Swindon Central Library organised and hosted by Hilda Sheehan and Matt Holland from Swindon Artswords and Michael Scott, Chair of BlueGate Poets. The first half was an open-mic session and in the second half Cristina read from her book, Cry Wolf, which is the winner of Templar Publishing‘s 2012 Straid Poetry Collection Award.
Cristina also performed flamenco songs, sometimes accompanied by the accomplished acoustic guitar duo, Gilmore n’ Jaz, who also provided great music while people gathered with wine and festive chocolates at this informal, café event.
Swindon Artswords, which organises and provides Literature Development for Swindon Borough Council, has this to say about Cristina’s work:
Cristina first published two full-length collections –La Frontera and Rutas de Largo Recorrido– in her native Spanish language, with work also included in several anthologies. Her poems have appeared in journals and been shortlisted or have been runners-up at Bridport, Strokestown, Gregory O’Donoghue, Aesthetica and Nottingham. She won the Poetry London Competition 2011 with her poem Edison Peña Runs the Six Miles. She organises the Battered Moons Poetry Competition, now in its third year, supported by the Swindon Festival of Literature and Artswords. She is also involved in adult education, workshops and performances of poetry and flamenco jondo singing. This Thursday, Cristina launches her Straid Award winning collection Cry Wolf with her many friends in Swindon.
I did not know Cristina’s work before this event, although I loved her poem Edison Peña Runs the Six Miles, the imagined story of one of the trapped Chilean miners, which Paul Farley chose as the 2011 Poetry London winner. And, by coincidence, Cristina had sent me her stunning poem, Kissing, for my poetry blog, And Other Poems, a poem which, to date, has received, by far, the greatest number of views and which was described on Twitter by George Szirtes as “gorgeous” and by John Siddique as a “beautiful, global, holy poem”.
It was a joyful privilege to hear Cristina read, and sing, with passion and exuberance. Her poems, as described on the flyleaf of her new book, give voice to “the trapped miner, the locked up dissenter, the downtrodden people, the family of the dying and the dead, the hungry body, the thirsty soul, the mother robbed of her child, the abused child.” Templar Publishing and the judges of the Straid Award have chosen well.
This was a superbly run and extremely welcoming evening. I will definitely be going to a Swindon Open-Mic event again and will take a poem or story to read next time. Thank you to Hilda, Matt, Michael and, especially, Cristina, for making all of this possible.