Doctor wins star turn on first day of poetry festival
10:00am Monday 30th September 2013 in News
A DOCTOR from the Great Western Hospital beat hundreds of poets to win third place in the Swindon Poetry Festival’s national competition.
Atherton Gray, 61, a consultant haematologist, was thrilled to receive the award for his poem, Daddy Longlegs, which he will read on the first day of the poetry festival this Thursday.
He said: “When I found out I just smiled.
“The poem is an appreciation of a natural phenomenon of the daddy long legs hatching in the grass.
“I sent in several poems and I was surprised that that was the one they liked.”
Atherton has been writing poems on various themes for many years, and often takes inspiration from his work in the hospital, but he has never entered a competition before.
“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to express my emotions more than we do in conversation and spending the time and getting the words right.
“I guess I’m a bit introspective.
“Patients who open up sometimes tell me things that are so moving they just write the poems themselves.”
Poetry fans all over Swindon are gearing up to welcome award-winning writer Roger McGough to the town’s second poetry festival, which begins on Thursay, National Poetry Day.
On the day visitors can visit the Arts Centre on Devizes Road between 10am and 11am to read out their favourite poems, while newly-named winner of the prestigious Warwick Prize, Alice Oswald, will also appear.
People will then be able to make the most of workshops, readings, talks and activities until Sunday, when a Festival Finale will take place from 7.30pm at the Arts Centre, packed with poems, stories, music and more.
Among the main attractions for the event will be a vintage bus tour of the town, which sold out last year.
Visitors will be able to see the best of Swindon while cruising along to poetry and historical nuggets before ending up at the Richard Jefferies House and Museum for refreshments and a tour.
There will also be an event which will see poets from all along the M4 corridor park up at The Platform to share poetry from London to Llanelli and everywhere in between.
Matt Holland, who lives in Shaw and is one of the main organisers of the event, said: “The Swindon Festival of Poetry is the sister to the Swindon Festival of Literature, but there is some debate about whether it’s the little sister, because as those who have a little sister know only too well, little sisters have a habit of becoming big sisters, and the festival of poetry is growing fast.
“Poetry really is something special. Whenever there is a wedding or you’re in love or there’s a birth you always turn to a poem for it.
“Yet poetry is the only job you can’t make a living from. Even the Poet Laureate doesn’t make a living from it. “Parents used to be worried if their children wanted to be actors, but these days you can make a pretty good living out of it. “Today, parents should be worried if their children say they want to be poets.”
For more information visit swindonfestivalofpoetry.co.uk or pick up a programme from the Arts Centre.
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