The Secrets of Swan


A spoken-word performance 

/// Intense and chilling | The Guardian
/// Fantastic! | BBC

Jan Noble has taken his poetic monologue My Name Is Swan along the far reaches of the Thames from Oxford to Wapping, reading in every Swan pub in London – sometimes unannounced, sometimes unwelcome – but always winning the audience with this extraordinary tale of a drifter following the river’s course in search off himself… or perhaps just the next drink.

In this 1 hour 30-minute presentation – part talk, part performance – Jan Noble describes the journey downriver that sees the poem transformed into a film and finds the poet coming up against the literary establishment.

From confrontations in pubs at the Oxford Literary Festival to readings organised via the dating app Tinder, Jan Noble chronicles the odyssey of live literature performance, a tour where TS Eliot, Rimbaud and Dante tag along as companions… and hey, he even takes a bath with Dylan Thomas.

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“I do not visit old veins
I have new wounds to pursue
silver avenues to open up”

Launched at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival, My Name Is Swan is a set text, alongside T.S. Eliot and Tony Harrison, on the Università degli Studi di Milano syllabus. The poem has been performed with poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, on BBC radio and at festivals across Europe.

Drawing on Jan Noble’s 15 years experience teaching poetry and creative writing in prisons and on psychiatric wards, My Name Is Swan describes a 24 hour journey across London. An odyssey of loss and belonging, lies and loyalty, ownership and neglect, Brexit and heartbreak, drugs and the suburbs, boredom, football violence, vandalism, happiness, isolation, addiction, rivers, shopping trolleys, love, hope and the metropolitan malaise… addressing the growing social and economic disparity of the modern city, it is most of all a beautifully evocative portrait of London, the struggles it presents and the solutions it offers.