Here are some thumb-sized images of poets and performers at the packed-to-the-rafters launch of Hilda Sheehan’s debut collection, The Night My Sister Went to Hollywood (Cultured Llama, 2013), at The Platform, Swindon, on Friday, 10th May. Among the readers were poets Robert Vas Dias, Leland Bardwell, Cristina Navazo-Eguía Newton, Martin Malone and Michael Scott. Martin was also an engaging and entertaining host for this beautifully organised event.
It was a joyful evening, full to the brim with poetry, music (Hilda’s friend, Belgian pianist, Dorothea Van De Velde had travelled from Thailand (!) to attend and stunned us all with her performances of pieces by Chopin and Rachmaninoff) and love for Hilda. Hilda Sheehan is a talented, widely published poet and poetry activist, who works with breathtaking energy to provide a fantastic programme of workshops, readings and events in and around Swindon.
The night was awash with Hilda anecdotes from the many people whose lives have been made better by this beautiful human being. It was wonderful that Hilda’s family were there to share in the celebrations, and the penultimate poem was read by her handsome father. Listening to him, it was easy to understand why Hilda has such a gift for enthralling a large audience!
I’m so glad that I was able to be there. It meant that I had to bring along my two children because Andrew, my husband, had been working in London all week so wasn’t at home to be with them. Anyway, I’m blessed with two children (aged 12 and 13, so not babies) who are open to events like this. Sure, they drifted off from time to time (my focus wandered occasionally, during two hours of poetry and classical music) but I experienced moments of pure bliss last night, exquisite music and poetry reaching the rafters of this vast, disused railway building, engulfed in an atmosphere of good will, my beautiful children silently and solemnly handing each other fistfuls of sweets and popcorn and a text from Andrew telling me he’d arrived home and was on his way to drive over to give us a lift back.
A really uplifting start to my weekend. You can buy The Night My Sister Went to Hollywood here and read one of the poems from the book, The Parting, previously published in The Rialto, here.