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ABIGAIL WILLIAMS – on how we read, what we read, and why. 


Arts Centre. Devizes Road SN1 4BJ
Tel 01793 535534 (11am to 6pm)
12.30pm ~ 4th May ~ £8 (£7)

How do offence, outrage, and content warnings impact the literary landscape? What do issues, such as culture wars and identity politics determine what books we read and the various ways in which we interact with them?
Professor of Eighteenth-Century Studies at St. Peter’s College, University of Oxford, Abigail Williams is the author of The Social Life of Books, and makes this observation. 'Every day I witness first hand some of the ways in which ideas about books can divide us. There has developed a link between cleverness and obscurity, with almost a  contempt for language that is understood. I would like to uncouple those things....You should be able to say something clearly.’

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KATIE ACKRILL – on narrative and storytelling in Modern Art. 


Reading Room, Central Library, Regent Circus SN1 1QG
Tel 01793 535534 (11am to 6pm)
7pm ~ 4th May ~ Free!

This talk will explore the endurance of narrative and storytelling in modern art, through artworks from the Swindon Collection, which will be on display in the Library as part of the a new exhibition titled A Thousand Words.
To celebrate a storehouse of stories, Swindon Central Library, and a promoter of storytelling, the Swindon Festival of Literature, Swindon Museum and Art Gallery will showcase artworks inspired by books and stories, from 4th May to 4th June. This exhibition will bring together prints and paintings from the Swindon Collection, which take traditional, modern, and personal narratives as their starting point. 
Katie Ackrill is Curator/Engagement Officer for Art on Tour at SwindonMAG.  

Hilary Paynter, © The Folio Society

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XANTHI BARKER & CHARLIE GILMOUR – on fathers, wayward and wonderful.


Arts Centre, Devizes Road SN1 4BJ
Tel 01793 535534 (11am to 6pm)
6.30pm ~ 4th May ~ £8 (£7)


In terms of parenting, we all know that mothers are vital. But what about fathers? They may play a significant part in the procreation bit but what do we expect of them as parents? 
The poet Sebastian Barker, who, btw, was the first author to appear at the first event at the first Swindon Festival of Literature in 1994, died when his daughter Xanthi was in her mid-twenties. She could make little sense of the grief she felt for a man who had made her gifts and sent her poems but who had been absent for most of her life.
Prize-winning short story writer, Xanthi Barker is the author of Will This House Last Forever?, a wholly original memoir about seeing the flaws in those we love and how grief so utterly defies logic.
A young magpie falls from its nest and into a writer’s life. His response is to write a story about repetition across generations and birds that run in the blood; about a terror of repeating the sins of the father; and a desire to build a nest of one's own.
A jackdaw is kept in a stately home by an anarchist poet. The latter is the former’s absent father. 
In his highly-praised book Featherhood, author Charlie Gilmour has written a fascinating, moving, and illuminating story about birds and fathers.  

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BENEDICT ALLEN – on the quest for adventure and the great unknown.


Arts Centre, Devizes Road SN1 4BJ
Tel 01793 535534 (11am to 6pm)
8pm ~ 4th May ~ £9 (£8)

What does it mean to be an explorer in the twenty-first century? What is it about exploration in the farthest reaches of the world that can leave the explorer both ‘lost’ and ‘found’?
Editor of The Faber Book of Exploration, pioneer of the ‘video selfie’ as a result of filming his solo expeditions for television, Benedict Allen says this. ‘The lessons I have learnt from my numerous expeditions is that exploration isn't about planting flags, facing challenges in order to make a mark. It’s about opening yourself up, allowing yourself to be vulnerable, and letting the place and people make their mark on you.’ His latest book is Explorer: the quest for adventure and the great unknown. 

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