These Silent Mansions is an elegant, exhilarating meditation on the relationship between the living and the dead, the nature of time and loss, and how – in this restless, accelerated world – we can connect the here with the elsewhere, the present with the past. It is an uncovering of individual stories: vivid, touching and intimately told. Jean travels back through her own life, revisiting graveyards in the ordinary towns and cities she has called home, seeking out others who lived, died and are remembered or forgotten there. She makes chance discoveries among the stones and inscriptions: a notorious smuggler tucked up in a sleepy churchyard; ancient coins unearthed on a secret burial ground; a slow-worm basking in the sun.
‘Fascinating details told with a poet’s skill’ The Guardian
Jean Sprackland is Professor of Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Chair of the Poetry Archive, the world’s premier online collection of recordings of poets reading their work. She has worked as a consultant and project manager for organisations involved with literature and education. She won the Costa Poetry Award in 2008. Her books have been shortlisted for the Forward Prize, the TS Eliot Prize and the Whitbread Award. Praise for Strands (2012 Portico Prize for Non-Fiction)
“Elegant memoir…this beautiful book is only a tide’s whisper away from being on a beach itself and feeling the wind in your hair and the sand between your toes.” The Economist
“Compelling…well-contextualised, sharply-observed, clued up, environmentally aware and deeply researched.” The Independent
Graham Burchell and Rosie Jackson read their poems and give commentary on, and show images of, paintings and photographs as they follow the life and explore the Biblical work of visionary artist Stanley Spencer.
Graham Burchell was the 2012 Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year, and is a 2013 Hawthornden Fellow. He is also chair of the Dartmoor based Moor Poets and one of the team of four responsible for the Teignmouth Poetry Festival. His third collection Kate was published in May 2015.
Rosie Jackson has taught literature in the universities of East Anglia, Bristol UWE, and Nottingham Trent. She regularly performs her work at Frome Poetry Café, Bradford on Avon’s Words and Ears, in Bristol and other venues across the South West. 2014 Hawthornden Fellow, she won the 2017 Cookham Festival poetry competition on the theme of Stanley Spencer, and the 2018 Wells Poetry Festival Prize. Rosie’s poems have appeared in many publications and anthologies and her books include The Glass Mother, The Light Box, Mothers Who Leave, Fantasy, and What the Ground Holds. She collaborates with Gordon McKerrow on poetry films.
With thanks to the Reverend Craig Bishop, Richard Stephens, Sally Dymott, Ailsa Scott and Sarah Roberts
The UK’s spoken word scene is thriving, and we have decided to invite anyone interested in writing or listening to poetry to jump on our bandwagon. We are hoping for a combination of first time & just-starting-out poets to established & confident poets at our non-genre specific ‘open mic’ (without a mic) afternoon where pieces may go from love, to comedy to very personal topics. If you would like an ‘open mic’ slot please email firstname.lastname@example.org and your name will be forwarded to Ann Allen who will add you to the list of readers, and hosts the afternoon.
Ann Allen’s poem Centenary Stop was included in the Poetry Anthology Adlestrop Remembered published to honour the centenary of the poet Edward Thomas. Ann’s first collection of poetry is Michelangelo Can Paint an Angel.
Doors open 2.30pm (1hr 46 mins)
The self-possessed and professional high court judge Fiona Maye spends her working day making decisions that affect other people’s lives, but is neglectful and detached in her own marriage. When she presides over the case of a teenage boy requiring a blood transfusion, long buried emotions come to the fore and she is forced to re-examine her life. With a screenplay by Ian McEwan based on his novel, this 2017 film covers an astonishing range of human emotions with all of their complexities. Directed by Richard Eyre and starring Emma Thompson, Fionn Whitehead and Stanley Tucci.
‘It’s the film that’s had cinema-goers reaching for a tissue. The deeply moving tale of a critically ill child’ Telegraph
‘…worth seeing precisely for the heat of the arguments that you can enjoy after the screening and, above all, for Emma Thompson.’ New Yorker
With thanks to Campden Film Society, showing annually nine films: English and Foreign Language films, classics and interesting recent releases
Doors open 6.30pm TOKE’S Bar
For three billion years or so evolution happens slowly, with species crafted by natural selection across millennia. A few hundred thousand years ago, along came a bolshie, big-brained, bipedal primate we now call ‘Homo sapiens’, and with that the Earth’s natural history came to an abrupt end. In her entertaining and thought-provoking post-natural history guide, Helen Pilcher invites us to meet key species that have been sculpted by humanity, as well as the researchers and conservationists who create, manage and tend to these post-natural creations. Helen tells us that we’ve shaped the DNA of the animal kingdom and in so doing, altered the fate of life on earth. The fate of all living things is irrevocably intertwined with our own, and through climate change, humans have now affected even the most remote environments and their inhabitants, and studies suggest that through our actions we are forcing some animals to evolve at breakneck speed to survive. Whilst some are thriving, others are on the brink of extinction, and for others the only option is life in captivity. Today, it’s not just the fittest that survive, sometimes it’s the ones we decide to let live.
Helen Pilcher is a science writer and comedian, with a PhD in stem cell biology and years of stand-up comedy under her belt. Helen has worked as a freelance writer for the last 12 years, and she has written for the Guardian, New Scientist, BBC online, BBC Wildlife and Nature, for which she was formerly a reporter. Helen is author of Bring Back the King, a Radio 2 Fact not Fiction book of the week described by comedian Sara Pascoe as ‘science at its funniest’.
Doors open 6.30pm TOKE’S Bar
Tom Chivers in conversation with Tom Whipple: Who are the community of people who are trying to think rationally about intelligence? Which places are these thoughts taking them? What insight can and can’t they give us about the future of the human race over the next few years? Why are these people worried? Why might they be right, and why might they be wrong? Along the way we learn why perhaps we should be concerned about paperclips destroying life as we know it; how Mickey Mouse can teach us an important lesson about how to programme AI; and how a more rational approach to life could be what saves us all.
‘a cross between a sci-fi horror novel and a philosophy tutorial’ Times
‘meticulously researched…intriguing, persuasive and eye-opening…writing is warm and witty’ Hannah Fry author of Hello World
Tom Chivers was BuzzFeed UK’s science writer 2015-18 and has written for the Telegraph, where he once interviewed Terry Pratchett and was told he was ‘far too nice to be a journalist’. He is a winner of the British health Journalism award and American Psychological Society media award.
Tom Whipple is the science editor at The Times and has also been a feature writer for Times2 and writes freelance features for The Economist’s Intelligent Life among other magazines. His books include How to Win Games and Beat People.
This evening’s events are sponsored by Campden BRI Science and Technology for the food and drink industry www.campdenbri.co.uk