Hannah Swingler is a poet, teacher and artist, born and bred in Birmingham. She calls a forward roll a ‘gambole’.
She was the winner of CoachesSLAM 2018, as well as coaching the University of Birmingham’s uniSLAM team to victory. She went on to represent the UK at CUPSI in Philadelphia.
Hannah’s ‘haunting yet hopeful’ storytelling spans themes such as female identity, relationships and mental health. Luke Kennard observed, “her work finds the beautiful and the lyrical in the everyday with the wisest, self-deprecating heart and intuitive wit and humanity.”
She has performed across the country: with Tongue Fu, featuring at Howl, Grizzly Pear, Verve Poetry Festival, Cafe Grande Slam, Stirchley Speaks, and at REP Birmingham, BOM, the Old REP, Ikon Gallery, Upstairs at the Western, Derby Theatre, Oxjam Fest, Birmingham Weekender and mac, amongst others. She featured on BBC radio discussing the importance of poetry for young people.
Hannah is an alumnus of both the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain and Beatfreeks YSC.
She believes good things come to those who make.
Hannah describes her incredible debut collections of fresh and original poetry best.
‘I struggle to throw things away. Used envelopes, mostly. This is not only my debut collection of poetry, it is my hoard, my memory bank, my adventure into the known.’
This dress has pockets exudes the feeling of finding a dress that fits in a charity shop for only £4.50 and it has the functionality of pockets that are deep enough to carry unsent love letters and conkers and those memories that you wish you could binge watch, or tape over.
It is ethereal but memorable, surreal, but familiar, like a dream you weren’t able to keep hold of. It is what it means to remember, what it means to grow up storing your thoughts close to you, in pockets of dresses that make you look alright until you sit down in them. Now is your time to dance in it, now is the time to empty your pockets and spin.
We are thrilled to be bringing you this poetry dress with its many marvellous pockets. We encourage you to peer deep into them and be amazed!
Sample Poem: Freddie Mercury
When I am nine, my parents move us to the countryside, away from bus routes and gang wars. The house they buy is bigger, too cheap for what is offers and their deliberation doesn’t last long. They don’t think to look at the old wiring; block out the sound of the motorway at the bottom of the garden.
Financial recklessness is hereditary.
We continue to go to school in the city, work in the city: be city dwellers that must sleep where we can see the stars clearer. Thirteen miles there, another thirteen back: the car becomes our living room, our bedroom, our home.
It doesn’t have a CD player, so my brother makes jukebox cassettes, one song per family member then repeat. I choose Jesus of Surburbia by Green Day because it is nine minutes and seven seconds long and I crave the attention.
Fields, trees, abandoned farm buildings, hair pin bends, blind junctions, I know the landscape better than the opening to my favourite movie.
I write birthday cards leaning on headrests without curving a line.
I can apply a full face of makeup using the rear view mirror from the backseat.
I learn to change outfits without flashing the driver.
I devour books like they will be burnt at the end of the day.
My brother falls in love with a girl who lives opposite our school. He stays overnight on a camp bed in her living room, I think. He stops making mix tapes.
I am given an ipod for my birthday and spend the mornings staring out of the window pretending I am in a music video.
My mother only drives when my Dad is already home. At night, she turns the lights off on roads without cat eyes and we scream in the seconds of darkness, before we flash back to visibility. One night, we drive passed a man in drag walking in the road towards us. Two weeks later, the local headlines talk of a “decapitated tranny” who got hit by a car on her way home from a dinner party.
My Mom stops turning the lights off after that.
Mornings mean minus six degrees and the heater breaks.
I fall in love with a boy who lives opposite my school in an adjacent road to my brother’s girlfriend. I can see my art room from my bedroom window. I stay overnight on a camp bed, sometimes.
I’m not sure whether the reason I love him is because I get an extra half an hour of sleep in the morning.
We resurrect Freddie Mercury on a thunder filled October night through dramatic, unrehearsed yet surprisingly harmonised word-perfect rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody. We congratulate each other on hitting the high notes, swerve to miss a pheasant and hit a tree instead.
When I graduate – after thirteen years of thirteen miles there and thirteen back – my parents move to the road my brother’s now fiancée lives on. I can see my old room from my bedroom window. I get an extra half an hour of sleep in the morning.
There are bus routes and gang wars and no blind junctions.
We do not make mix tapes.
We do not resurrect Freddie Mercury anymore, but I can still apply liquid eyeliner travelling over potholes using the rear view mirror from the backseat.