Festival Launch Online E0
THURSDAY 7:00 - 8:00pm FREE
Festival Themes: Play, Perception & Place
Even though we can’t all be in Aldeburgh together this year, we can still conjure the sounds of sea and shingle, the vibe, the friendship and the poetry… Pour yourself a drink, settle down in comfort and join the Festival Team. This year’s themes of Place, Perception and Play will be taken up by three stellar poets. In this the 250th anniversary of Wordsworth birth, Tara Bergin will read poems that explore the Lake District and beyond, with new work and poems from her collections, This Yarrow and The Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx. Martha Sprackland’s debut collection Citadel transport us between central Spain and the northwest coast of England with powerful, unsettling poems that thread together the remembered places of childhood and dreamscapes of an anxious, interior world where objects are obsessively perceived and explored. Claudine Toutoungi’s new collection Two Tongues brims with theatricality, role-playing and disguise. Expect naming games, absurdist humour and strange visions, sometimes hopeful, sometimes bleak, often dream-like and coloured by a surreal sensibility. Come join us to celebrate the opening of this year’s Poetry in Aldeburgh.
Lunchtime Reading - Place Online E1
FRIDAY 12:00 - 1:00pm FREE
North, South, East, West
We begin the first of our three-day festival by bringing together poets from the four corners of the UK, from Aberdeenshire to Cornwall and from Merseyside to Norfolk. Martin Malone’s new selected Larksong Static takes a synoptic view of the last 15 years of writing. He is described by Carol Ann Duffy as offering ‘an excavation of time and place, landscape and language, every word alert to the elements without and their emotions within. Sue Burge’s The Saltwater Diaries is ‘a beautiful evocation of all that is special about the coast, perfectly capturing the taste of salt on the wind and the life that is often undiscovered beneath rocks, along beaches and dancing in the air’ (Mark Davidson). Wild Persistence is Katrina Naomi’s first collection since relocating from London to Penzance, described by Liz Berry as ‘a collection to win readers and then pull the ground from beneath them’. Maria Isakova Bennett’s recent work ‘begins with the contemplation and perception of place and the depiction of place in art’. …an ache in each welcoming kiss is a sequence of 22 poems communicating to and with paintings in Merseyside art galleries and extending the boundaries of ekphrasis. All in all, a veritable poetic tour from coast to coast to coast to coast!
Afternoon Reading - Perception Online E2
FRIDAY 3:00 - 4:00pm FREE
Reading on 'Perception': On Vision and Seeing
We often assume that our eyes do all the work of seeing. But as Emma Storr says ‘Perception is different to seeing – it involves interpretation. As a doctor, I learned about the anatomy of the eye, the neural pathways involved in vision and diseases of the eye, but this didn’t always help with understanding patients’ perceptions of what was wrong with them or my perception of the problem.’ Emma’s medical experience provides a complementary perspective to compelling reflections on sight and vision from four poets. Her debut pamphlet Heart Murmur is based on experience of working as a GP and on being a patient. Themes of uncertainty and human frailty are treated with respect but also humour. Lydia Kennaway,’s Here they are – looking at you is an exploration of visual perception, a ‘biography of the eyes that takes the form of a sequence of poems dealing with impaired vision from birth to adulthood, drawn from the diaries bequeathed by her mother. Charlotte Eichler’s Their Lunar Language assembles a disquieting array of feminine characters […] and creates a powerful authorial perspective, not mistakable for any other voice. Brides and cuttlefish, wayward or broken forms of love, woodlands transposable with human manufacture: this is modern pastoral, not nostalgic, and well beyond the ordinary domestic lyric’ (Vahni Capildeo). Carole Bromley’s fourth collection, The Peregrine Falcons of York Minster brings together poems about York and Yorkshire, the loss of friends and loved ones, travel, literature, art, and her own recent experience of brain surgery – an ‘unsparing but magnificent achievement’ (Kate Clanchy).
Afternoon Talk Online E3
FRIDAY 5:00 - 6:00pm FREE
Experiment and Oulipo introduced by Michael Schmidt
Carcanet editor, Michael Schmidt, introduces Philip Terry, poet, translator and academic in the theory and practice of creative writing at the University of Essex, in conversation with Lee Ann Brown (live from the US), poet and founder of Tender Buttons Press, a poetry press dedicated to publishing experimental women’s poetry in the US. The event marks the publication of the paperback issue of the The Penguin Book of Oulipo and the forthcoming Oulipo supplement in PN Review. Oulipo writers explore and invent new forms, enabling new perceptions and investigating place and time. Oulipo (meaning Ouvroir de littérature potentielle; roughly translated as ‘workshop of potential literature’) was a loose gathering of (mainly) French-speaking writers and mathematicians who sought to create works using constrained writing techniques, founded in 1960 by Raymond Queneau and François Le Lionnais with notable members including novelists Georges Perec and Italo Calvino. A discussion on form, experiment and play, with readings of poems by Lee Ann Brown and other contributors. Be inspired for your own writing!
Evening Reading - Play Online E4
FRIDAY 7:00 - 8:00pm FREE
Love, Lust and Politics
Four poets explore and adore the body with wit, passion and devotion. Jazmine Linklater tussles with the body and gender through various inherited figures including Mesopotamian and Assyrian goddesses. The main thrust of Figure a Motion is the sensuality of the body, explored through ekphrasis, collage, transpositions and poems in dialogue with others. Kostya Tsolakis' Ephebos maps a fragile coming of age, exploring the shame, courage and yearning of emergent sexuality. From a sun-drenched Athenian adolescence to adulthood in England, this exquisitely wrought pamphlet confronts an abiding sense of ‘falling short’ – of being Greek, conforming to ideas of masculinity, being a good son, of communicating fully with loved ones and strangers. Hearing the Elaine Baker’s from Winter with Eva is like eavesdropping on a private conversation between a lover and his beloved. The poems draw listeners into urban snowscapes, in a post-Brexit referendum UK where not everyone is welcome, and where passion and devotion lie beside domesticity and suspicion. In Ramona Herdman’s A warm and snouting thing the perceptions and misunderstandings around sexual attraction and sexual politics meet with the play of flirtation. ‘By turns funny, sad, mildly self-absorbed and self-criticising’, Rory Waterman recognises the poet’s ‘endearing, vulnerable, strong-willed aesthetic’.
After Dinner Event Online E5
FRIDAY 9:00 - 10:00pm FREE
All Saints Sessions present: Ultra Sound - Cheryl Moskowitz and Alastair Gavin’s fusion of poetry and sound with special guests poet Isabelle Baafi, and musicians Malcom Ball and Ian Burdge.
Find your headphones and immerse yourself in a magnificent fusion of sound and poetry. Cheryl Moskowitz and Alastair Gavin have devised an innovative performance especially for Poetry in Aldeburgh 2020! With guest musicians Ian Burdge and Malcolm Ball, alongside poet Isabelle Baafi. All Saints Sessions is innovative poetry and electronics performance series running since 2017, which features a changing line-up, with a guest poet and musician collaborating to create a special one-off performance. Words, melody and sound textures converge and synergise to form something new and uniquely immersive and memorable. Cheryl Moskowitz is US born poet, novelist and playwright and formerly, actor and psychotherapist. Her pamphlet Maternal Impressions if forthcoming in Spring 2021. Alastair Gavin is a keyboardist, arranger, composer for artists ranging from Mari Wilson to the Michael Nyman Band, and was assistant musical director on Mamma Mia! Isabelle Baafi is on was shortlisted for the 2019 Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition and her debut pamphlet, Ripe, is published this autumn. She is a board member of Magma. Malcolm Ball studied piano and later electronic music and composition at the Royal College of Music London. He has played at venues such as South Bank, Royal Albert Hall, 100 Club and Ronnie Scott’s Club. He is one few exponents in the UK of the Ondes Martenot, an early electronic instrument developed in France. Ian Burdge is a session cello and electric cello player. He co-founded The Millennia Ensemble, recording for artists including Travis, David Gray, Paul McCartney and Luciano Pavarotti.
Lunchtime Reading - Place 2 E6
SATURDAY 12:00 - 1:00pm FREE
Between Places: Britain and Europe
This event brings together four poets that split their time between the UK and France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. The readings consider the impact of Brexit on their lives and, indeed, on their writing. Sharon Black lives in a remote valley of the Cévennes mountains of southern France. Editor of Pindrop Press, she ‘doesn’t just write about the world - a rock, a flock of starlings, an affair - but into it, inhabiting each subject with sensual passion and immense lyrical grace: a true indwelling’ (Adam Thorpe’). Christopher North moved to Spain to facilitate writing retreats and courses at Almassera Vella near Alicante. His latest pamphlet The Topiary of Passchendaele was a winner in the Poetry Business competition 2018. Alex Josephy lives half the year in Italy, and this is explored in her descriptions of the natural world, in the musical Italian vocabulary and portraits of village life in her collection Naked Since Faversham. Fokkina McDonnell is an Anglo-Dutch poet who has spent the last 35 years in Manchester and whose poems are ‘confidently written, with economy and precision, moving, witty’ (Carole Bromley).
Afternoon Reading - Perception 2 E7
SATURDAY 3:00 - 4:00pm FREE
The World Around Us
In perceiving the world around us, how do we reconcile what we see and encounter with our understanding, our feelings and our beliefs? Rebecca Watts’ poems describe ‘a world of contingency, both fragile and beguiling’ ‘Formally elegant and precise, Watts's lyrical voice is vividly lit, and richly evocative. Red Gloves is a deeply moving collection, profound and insightful: a true tonic for these superficial, facile times’ (Neil Rollinson). Mina Gorji’s Art of Escape is understated and has a beautiful clarity of form…a wonderful debut from a poet whose craft is delicate and complex, and who feels instinctively the manifold connectedness of life.’ (Séan Hewitt). Whether poems on the lives of insects and plants, oron the emigrant's journey from Iran to England, the poet brings them into intense focus. Andre Mangeot’s Blood Rain is a telling meditation on what we’re doing to the planet and ourselves. Lyrical and allusive, ranging from the personal to the global, the sequence explores environmental degradation and climate change, serving as a compendium of our current crisis. Claire Cowther’s collection Solar Cruise (Shearsman) deals with science through a passionate personal lens inspired by her husband’s, Professor Keith Barnham, research devoted to the development of solar power. ‘These poems perpetually test the ability of science-language to infiltrate the lyric…Crowther’s poem are fizzily cerebral, wordplay-avid, both sensuous and ratiocinative. (Vidyan Ravinthiran, PBS Bulletin)
Afternoon Talk 2 E8
SATURDAY 5:00 - 6:00pm FREE
Languages and Place
‘We understand the world around us and the places we are in through the languages we use to describe them. Languages bring us together and set up apart. When there is conflict and confrontation, I take hope from how we can (word)play and interleave our tongues’ (L. Kiew). This afternoon event brings together poets who explore place through the way in which they use foreign language in their poems, conjuring Hong Kong and Benghal, Malaysia and Sudan. The poets explore the types of vocabulary they have used and the decisions they make as writers as to how much the reader needs to know. Jennifer Wong’s latest collection, Letters Home explores the complexities of history, migration and translation. Jessica Mookherjee’s second collection Tigress mixes myth, magic and migration, exploring the often fraught nature of childhood and family, selfhood and womanhood. Sue Wallace Shaddad’s A City Waking Up, explores Khartoum, Sudan through family visits over forty years with poems inspired by the colours, heat, food, people, customs and Arabic language. L. Kiew’s poems in The Unquiet are woven with words from Malay. Her writing ‘is simultaneously compressed and bristling with detail, in poems alive to the slips and possibilities inherent in the transcultural experience’ (Hannah Lowe).
Evening Reading Play 2 E9
SATURDAY 7:00 - 8:00pm FREE
The Human Comedy
Playing with language, join us to shake a fist and a leg at life. Embracing the surreal, the bewildering and nonsensical, four poets jostle and jest with modern life, poking fun at power structures, taking us on ‘text adventure games’, and seducing us with bewildering snapshots, including a pair of scissors that can cut anything. Anything. Katherine Stansfield has made a name for herself both as a wryly witty poet of the everyday seen ‘aslant’ and as a popular novelist of crime and fantasy. Her second poetry collection, We Could Be Anywhere by Now, is pointedly full of poems about placement and displacement - after a childhood on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, she moved to mid Wales. In The Story of No Emma Hammond delivers an experimental lyric that is wild, weird and full of the errata of modern life. Her poems reappropriate the language of brands, pornography and instant messaging, and argue for Carry On films and Wotsits as the true subjects of poetry. Lorraine Mariner has established herself as an idiosyncratic poet, with novel takes on contemporary life and personal relationships, as in her latest collection There Will Be No More Nonsense. ‘Droll, melancholic, locating the surreal in the ordinary, her plain-style speak and lack of pyrotechnics are no barrier to producing engaging and emotionally complex poems’ (Kathryn Gray, Poetry Review). Luke Samuel Yates’ The Flemish Primitives was a winner in the 2014/15 Poetry Business Competition, judged by Billy Collins. ‘This is a poetry of exquisite timing, with some of the most satisfying last lines I’ve ever read. Yates can take an everyday domestic detail and make it sparkle with the mystery of a Raedecker painting’ (Luke Kennard)
After Dinner Event 2 E10
SATURDAY 9:00 - 10:00pm FREE
Jill Abram presents Performance in the Pub at the virtual 'Cross Keys' followed by an 'Open Mic'
A delicious tone of eavesdropping binds this evening’s readings as we are called to contemplate the binds that tie us to one another. Fact, fiction and fantasy share an equal playing field through poems of dream lovers, friends and inner-city neighbours. In These Queer Merboys, Serge Neptune invites the reader into his mythical dreamscape of mermen, a world charged with powerful eroticism where desire is fraught with danger. Ali Lewis’s Hotel tackles the complexities of modern relationships and city living, communicating that ‘we exist in rooms of similar layouts and puts a glass to the walls between so we might overhear’ (Poetry Book Society). Arji Manuelpillai’s Mutton Rolls addresses subjects of Sri-Lankan British identity, masculinity, friendship, grief and love with a tone that embraces a tender satire. Jill Abram presents the readings and open mic that follows. Her own often mischievous poems describe the semi-fictitious lives of family and friends with sass and poignancy.
Come along and read a poem - sign up instructions to follow
Lunchtime Reading Place 3 E11
SUNDAY 12:00 - 1:00pm FREE
Place and Memory
How much of a place do we carry with us into the future? And how does the memory of place ripple down across generations? In her mid-20s, Heidi Williamson was part of a Scottish community that suffered an inconceivable tragedy – the Dunblane Primary School shooting. Those years living in the town form the focus of Return by Minor Road. Through rivers, rain, wildlife and landscape, she revisits where ‘the occasional endures’. Psychotherapist Alan Buckley’s Touched is a debut collection that understands the value of subtlety and restraint, exploring personal trauma and the “fragile, desperate weight” of our lives through poems that speak elegantly of hard-won insight’ (Ben Wilkinson, The Guardian). “The sea, the sea, always recommencing” wrote the great French poet Paul Valéry. Jennifer Edgecombe’s debut pamphlet The Grief of The Sea is an exploration of loss and its relationship with the ocean, the two eternally bound together. These poems showcase her exceptional ability to evoke taste, touch, sound, and most of all, depth of feeling. Lucia Dove has been working on a project that explores the relationship between Essex and the Netherlands through their geographical landscape and shared cultural memory of the North Sea flood of 1953 which devastated both places on the same night. Her debut pamphlet Say cucumber leads you into a world that slips between the familiar and unfamiliar.
Afternoon Reading - Perception 3 E12
SUNDAY 3:00 - 4:00pm FREE
Objects and Enquiry
Objects can have a powerful hold over us. An old rug can be just an everyday object or it can hold a world of memories in its threadbare patterns. We all look at, and understand them, in different ways – finding memories, secrets, fears and surprises. Olivia Dawson’s poems relate to how we perceive objects to which we are sentimentally attached. ‘Unfolded’ is a poetry pamphlet whose theme evolved through the discovery of a box of antique hand fans belonging to her father. The poems play with the fabulous words relating to fans and also explore how we reveal, or hide ourselves, with what we put on display. Richard Skinner’s fourth collection Invisible Sun sets out to release ‘the potential of inanimate objects’. A marbled egg, white balloons, unopened boxes, a Greek island, numbers, a yellow yo-yo—nothing in this book is quite what it seems. Julia Bird and Mike Sims sent each other mystery objects in the post and then wrote a lot of unexpected poems which became Paper Trail. “To open Paper Trail is to embark on a joyous journey through the debris of many decades. No artefact is too surreal or too small to be overlooked on this adventure – fragments of a meteor, an Aeroflot wet wipe, an artist’s business card, an empty case box that once held a mixtape […] The result is an exuberant tangle of words and images that celebrates the way we live now surrounded by ephemera, eavesdropping and aesthetic echoes” (Nancy Campbell).
Late Afternoon Talk E13
SUNDAY 5:00 - 6:00pm FREE
Nature and Nurture presented by the Poetry Society
Hear poems from last year’s National Poetry Competition. Charlotte Knight reads her commended poem ‘MOONDADDY’ and work from her exquisitely wrought Shut Up in a Cave, a collection concerned with grief, pregnancy, goats and the moon. And how would novelist Joe Dunthorne’s mutinous humour translate into poetry? The answer is: ‘brilliantly... There’s nothing his imagination cannot transform’ (The Observer). Hear him read from his collection O Positive and his commended poem ‘Due to a series of ill judgements on my part’. Like Joe, also a former Faber New Poet, Elaine Beckett, longlisted last year, takes us to the brink and back with her forthcoming first collection, described as a captivating fusion of poems, by turns witty, satirical, and melancholic. Ian Humphreys, whose first collection is Zebra, is described as having ‘an enviable gift of finding final lines of poems, many of which are seared on the surface of my memory’ (Mona Arshi). He reads his longlisted poem and new work, including the canal commission, inspired by local landscapes and exploring how my perception of these nearby places has changed as a result of recent travel restrictions. Hosted by Ben Rogers of the Poetry Society.
Evening Reading - Play 3 E14
SUNDAY 7:00 - 8:00pm FREE
A Scottish Fantasy
Through a plethora of visions, superstitions and personas, Sunday evening’s event muses what it is to be human in past, present and future. Reimagine Norse sagas with Miriam Nash’s forthcoming The Nine Mothers of Heimdallr, which imagines the vast and mythic Northern landscape in a giant, matriarchal re-telling of the creation myth. Delve into Andy Jackson’s new collection The Saints are Coming, inspired by the lives of genuine patron saints of strange things – spies, comedians, haemorrhoid sufferers, disappointing children, the verbally abused. Myth and superstition take a disquieting turn in a reading from Rob A. Mackenzie’s The Book of Revelation, which serves as a lonely planet guide to this outrageous place in time with apocalyptic nightmare vision that encompasses the rags of Empire and political turpitude in a grimly comic phantasmagoria of twenty-first century turmoil (that finds consolations in artistic resistance, and guinea pigs). Gallows humour is also rife throughout Louise Peterkin’s The Night Jar, lifting the lid on a fizzing range of personas, dramas and states of mind – presenting them for our delight - at once lively, unexpected and exhilarating, the collection brings to engagingly to mind Blake’s assertion: ‘energy is eternal delight’(Gerry Cambridge). Join us for our festival finale!