A Day at Hay Festival with Jessie Cahalin

We traversed the huge reception area to explore the warren of walkways, all undercover.

The Hay Festival tent welcomed us in all its fabulous, festive glamour.  Camping could be an option for holidays, if tents were presented like this bookish village.  We traversed the huge reception area to explore the warren of walkways, all undercover. Uninhibited by an event schedule, I took in: the shops, food hall, cafes, bars, live music and restaurants.

An overwhelming sense of calm dominated the entire experience so far removed from loud music and food festivals. Bookworms snuggled in every nook and cranny digging into their latest treasure.  If people looked up, they smiled at fellow readers.

One bookworm carried a bag with the logo: ‘imagine the world’.

I wonder how many book destinations were spinning around in the atmosphere as people relaxed into their imaginations? As bookworms travelled around the tent, there was no pushing and shoving or frayed tempers.  Everyone queued with grace while using the time to read.  One bookworm carried a bag with the logo: ‘imagine the world’.  Instantly, I inquired where to purchase the bag, she explained a route through the warren to the Hay Bookshop.

On route to the Hay Bookshop, I spotted glorious illustrated menus of bookish events.

On route to the Hay Bookshop, I spotted glorious illustrated menus of bookish events

I long to attend Benjamin Zephaniah’s poetry reading but knew I couldn’t stay until 10pm. His ‘Dance hall style, big mouth chanting’ hooked me when I listened to his performance at university.  Instead, I searched for a book of Benjamin’s poems in the bookshop.  Distracted by the authors signing books, I took photos of the marvellous queues waiting.  How wonderful to meet the readers personally and realise your writing has connected.  For me, the queues of readers inspired a little envy. ‘One day’, I whispered to myself before making a purchase.

‘You Can’t Go It Alone’ sat in a deckchair, sheltered by my umbrella, and soaked up the atmosphere.

Welsh rain poured mischievously in the open areas but no one worried. Readers sat with the umbrellas sheltering their books as they sipped coffee and wine.  Deckchairs waited patiently for the sun to arrive.  My book attended the festival and demanded a look around.  ‘You Can’t Go It Alone’ sat in a deckchair, sheltered by my umbrella, and soaked up the atmosphere.  A delightful woman, from California, came over to meet my book.  She also had a selfie with my book and said she would look up Books in my Handbag Blog.  I do hope she reads this post, as the impromptu meeting was a highlight of my day – she was so kind and enthusiastic.  I wanted to tell her more about Sophie, Rosa, Olivia and Pearl but stumbled on my words.

A delightful woman, from California, came over to meet my book.

Following the visit to the bookworms’ tent, we strolled into the village of Hay.  On the road to the village front gardens were teeming with flowers, coffee, cakes, books, journals, bric-a-brac, home-made jams and clothes.  We bought freshly baked Welsh cakes from an improvised stall on a gate post. The Poetry and Prosecco experience captured my curiosity.

A Prosecco shack was under construction, as I looked at a stall with poetry and handprinted cards and messages. Francesca Kay, a performance poet, presented her poems in hand designed seed packets.

Francesca Kay

She wants her poems to present a seed of an idea and had no intention of presenting the poems in a book.  Poems are presented on cards, in matchboxes and anything that inspires her.  Francesca’s first printing press lived in her kitchen and now she has an entire studio. For Francesca, the printing ink is a language, and she waxed lyrical how the ink makes different impressions on various surfaces and in various conditions.  Indeed, she explained ‘making an impression’ originated from the printing process.  Her stall of tactile tweets was so much to take in, I couldn’t decide what to buy.  The creative challenge to the conventional printed book forced me to reflect on my determination to see my book in print.

Her stall of tactile tweets was so much to take in, I couldn’t decide what to buy.

Perhaps, I need explore the spoken word.  Maybe, I could commission Francesca to print some quotations from the book.  Who knows?

I will return to Francesca’s website, and I will return to the Hay Festival.  The whole experience made an impression on my creative appetite. People encountered made the adventure unique.  I may not have met with Benjamin Zephaniah, but I did meet a performance poet who was printing her work using her own language.

How wonderful to meet the readers personally and realise your writing has connected. Cressida Cowell greets her readers.

While writing this blog post I received reply to a tweet from one of the festival marshals.  Ironically, he met with Benjamin Zephaniahand said, ‘He brought poetry to life for me as a young teen, some time ago, it was so great to meet him. And he was so friendly and lovely too!’ I am satisfied to have received this insight, as it reinforced my impression of the poet.

 

I took in: the shops, food hall, cafes, bars, live music and restaurants

I wonder what impression I would gain of the festival if I spent a couple of days there and experienced the atmosphere in the evening. I would like to attend some of the formal events, in the future, but have realised the festival is so much more than a bookish wonderland I expected to find.  The Hay Festival is a festival of creative minds and the logo ‘imagine the world’ has captured the magic.

 

Please see all my adventures at Handbag Adventures and my website and blog at JessieCahalin.com.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply