A Lovely Word
- Hannah Swingler
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As if counting down to the start of tonight’s Zoom meeting the date shows as 4/3/21 on my laptop screen. Equally prescient, A Lovely Word presents their regular evening of poetry on World Book Day this evening. The event is headlined by Birmingham poetry queen and esteemed face and voice of 2019 Nationwide building society ad High Street Romance, HANNAH SWINGLER.
The poet herself is the author of a pre-pandemic collection entitled This Dress Has Pockets, from which some of tonight’s pieces are read. Hannah speaks openly about the struggles she’s encountered during the previous months and tells her online audience how her idea to use lockdown as a writing retreat has not gone as planned, nevertheless she has started to work on a new project studying women’s history.
Her first poem, Dance Show, is a delightful insight into Hannah’s childhood mind, effortlessly captivating her listeners and inviting them to travel back in time as she showcases her nine-year-old imagination. The poem Yet draws attention to the writer’s feelings of uncertainty and hope associated with the titular word. Hannah points out the relevance of the piece in these unsettled times. However, the performer does embrace the comforts associated with not being venue-bound tonight as she performs sitting at her table in her slippers.
The rhythmic tones and her Birmingham accent, teamed with her subtle mannerisms and facial expressions, make for a compelling performance as Hannah’s passion for art and history are apparent from the variety of themes in her work. Hannah, who is a secondary school teacher by day, addresses the importance of equality on this noteworthy day, before reading her final poem of the evening, Dear Mary. It is written and delivered in the style of a letter and the poet was inspired to write it after hearing from an old neighbour that a lady named Mary owned her house many years ago. After stripping back the layers of wallpaper from previous tenants, Mary’s personality is unveiled, enabling Hannah to relate to the faceless name through the original decor. The poet radiates a sense of longing for the simplicity of Mary’s life in those times compared to now.
Although the writer touches on some serious matters tonight, her positivity naturally shines through in the performance. She is able to instil her hopeful insights onto her audience through an enthralling night of stanzas and storytelling.