THURSDAY & FRIDAY EVENTS

After Dinner Event   
E2
Poetry London Celebrates 100 issues
THURSDAY  Online
9:00 - 10:00pm      
Free
Colette Bryce

Come celebrate the 100th edition of Poetry London, with editor André Naffis-Sahely, and 4 special guest poets: former guest editor, Colette Bryce, and recently featured poets Rachel Long, Vidyan Ravinthiran, Momtaza Mehri. From modest beginnings in 1988, when it was a listings newsletter, Poetry London has developed into one of the UK’s leading poetry magazines. Do not be misled by its name: Poetry London has the same relation to London as The New Yorker has to New York. In other words it is a national and international journal, and as such it spreads its net wide to include the latest work from around the world, much of it in translation.

Festival Launch                         
E1
Festival Themes: Play, Perception & Place (Revisited)
THURSDAY  Online
Free
7:00 - 8:00pm      

Revisiting our festival themes of Place, Perception and Play, the launch event kicks off 3 full days of poetry with four poets from four incredible independent presses. Three poets launch their debut pamphlets. For ‘Place’, the Pre-Raphaelite Society’s Poet-in-Residence Sarah Doyle reads from her pamphlet of collage poems – Something so wild and new in this feeling (V. Press) – inspired by Dorothy Wordsworth’s journals from The Lake District. For ‘Perception’, ‘in her debut pamphlet, On Long Loan (Live Canon), Vanessa Lampert brings ‘the lightest touch to the weightiest matters, sees sharply near and poignantly far, and, to coin a contradiction, illuminates with shadow’ (Glyn Maxwell).  For ‘Play’, Samatar Elmi’s debut pamphlet was the Poetry Book Society’s summer choice in 2021. Portrait of Colossus (HappenStance) navigates parenting, masculinity, racism and ambiguities of identity, and does so with skill and sly humour. Stephen Payne’s second full collection, Windmill Proof  (HappenStance) contains playful, perceptive and place poems, where poems are games and provocations, and where ‘even a geometrical shape can slip seamlessly into matters of the heart’. We also introduce our visual artist in residence, Arjuna Gunarathne, who successfully marries the Eastern and Western traditions to present unique works focussing on political, social and personal experience.

FRIDAY
Lunchtime Reading -  Place                  
E3
Fenland Poetry Journal Showcase with Wendy Cope
FRIDAY
Online
 
12:00 - 1:00pm 
Free

Fenland Poetry Journal Showcase with six poets: Jonathan Totman, Agnieszka Studzińska, Dominic O’Sullivan, Alexandra Corrin-Tachibana, Anna Maria Mickiewicz, Chris Emery, and with special guest Wendy Cope

The Fenland Poetry Journal is a bi-annual poetry magazine founded in Fenland, which has just published its 5th issue. Editor Elisabeth Sennitt Clough’s objective in creating a new poetry and art magazine was to connect the local with the international. Each issue showcases a range of poets: local, national, international, emerging and established. Prior to starting the FPJ, Elisabeth co-edited The Fenland Reed for two years, a magazine founded by Jonathan Totman and Mary Livingstone. Come and hear 6 recent contributors read for 6 minutes each.

Afternoon Reading - Perception 1
E4
Poetry on Mental Health
FRIDAY
Online
 
3:00 - 4:00pm 
Free

Poetry on Mental Health

How do we express where we are, what this feels like, and whether we will get through it?  What do we observe in others and their struggles? And what about love, family, and relationships? For this event we are delighted to feature Andrew McMillan, reading from his much-anticipated collection, Pandemonium, already hailed as [an] ‘exceptional vigil of a book’ (Kate Kellaway, The Observer). Joining him will be Briony Bax, reading from Lament – 'a journey through a brutal world of mental illness' – Louisa Campbell – whose debut collection about mental illness, psychiatry, and recovery, Beautiful Nowhere, has met with rave reviews – and Rachel Lewis, whose pamphlet, Three Degrees of Separation, won the 2019 Wordsmith Pamphlet Prize. 

*Content Warning: mention of and probable discussion of mental illness and trauma

Afternoon Talk and Reading 1
E5

 Seren at 40 Anniversary Celebration

FRIDAY
Online
 
5:00 - 6:00pm
Free

Seren at 40 Anniversary Celebration 

Join us to revel in Seren’s 40th anniversary! Seren poets have previously won the Costa and Forward First Collection awards among many others. This special event brings together four vibrant poets published in Seren’s 40th year: Kim Moore’s much awaited second collection is a numbered sequence of 48 poems with the same title: All The Men I Never Married. Carolyn Jess-Cooke’s new poetry collection We Need to Leave the Earth is both keenly political and deeply personal. In Dai George's Karaoke King there is a feeling of history shifting, as a younger generation confronts its ethical obligations, its sense of complicity and disappointment. Abeer Ameer is a rising poet of Iraqi heritage who lives in Cardiff – her debut collection Inhale/Exile celebrates the resilience of her extended family in Baghdad and around the world. The poets are introduced by Seren's long-standing Poetry Editor, Amy Wack, who will talk about, and take questions on, Seren's evolution over the years.

 
 
Evening Reading - Play 1  
E6
Messing About and Crossing Out
FRIDAY
Online
 
7:00 - 8:00pm
Free

Messing About and Crossing Out

What is the mind, if not a trickster?  And what is the body if not a con-artist?  And what is consciousness, if not the in-joke that swallows us whole? Four poets read from new collections which spotlight invention and fantasy, drag and erasure.

Drawing on the language of comedy and clowning in an exploration of identity in the face of loss, Chrissy Williams’s LOW  interrogates humour’s role in enacting the possibility of change. With poems that eavesdrop, extract and sift, Jon Stone’s Sandsnarl blends poetry with fantasy-world-building and elements of digital and analogue gameplay. Canadian born Katie Griffiths will read from her first collection The Attitudes with poems that bring “a mercurial inventiveness to the serious concerns at… poetry's core – belief, selfhood and the soul” (Moniza Alvi). Hear James McDermott read from Erased, his ‘iridescent revision of the canon’ – a series of erasures on found homophobic newspaper articles, speeches, legislations, and biblical passages revealing queer subtexts and reclaiming works that tried to erase gay lives.

After Dinner Event - Poetry Performance  
E7
Guillemot Press Poets on Poetry and Collaboration
FRIDAY
Online
 
9:00 - 10:00pm 
Free

Guillemot Press Poets on Poetry and Collaboration

 

What synergies can be created when poets work with others, particularly across disciplines? Join four poets from Guillemot Press, who in 2021 celebrated writing and working together to produce two stand out titles. Sea Change, by Phoebe Power, winner of the 2018 Forward Prize for Best First Collection, and Katrina Porteous, whose work was recognised in the 2021 Cholmondeley Awards, explores Durham's 'radical coast' and the recent changes to this economically deprived former coal-mining region notorious for its black beaches. Marsh-River-Raft-Feather, by Petero Kalulé, whose debut collection Kalimba (Guillemot 2019) garnered international acclaim, collaborates here with Clarissa Álvarez in a bold innovative approach to writing about environments. The four poets in collaboration will read from their works and talk around the writing of these two pamphlets.

 

 SATURDAY EVENTS

6th November

Lunchtime Reading - Place 2  
E8
Contemporary Ethiopian Poetry – The Poetics of Truth
SATURDAY
Online
 
12:00 - 1:00pm
Free

Contemporary Ethiopian Poetry – The Poetics of Truth

Readings by Chris Beckett (Host, London), Mihret Kebede (Vienna), Misrak Terefe (Addis Ababa), Kebedech Tekleab (New York), Bedilu Wakjira (Addis Ababa). This event brings together Ethiopian poets reading live from London, Vienna, New York and Addis Ababa. All appeared in the recent Carcanet anthology of Ethiopian poetry in English, packed with all the energy, wit, and heartache of a beautiful country and language. From folk and religious poems, warrior boasts, praises of women and kings and modern plumbing; through a flowering of literary poets in the twentieth century; right up to thirty of the most exciting contemporary Amharic poets working both inside and outside the country. This event considers the pursuit of truth, which is at the heart of Ethiopian poetry today – an African state which was never colonised, but continues to tackle political, ethnic, and moral issues.

E6
Afternoon Reading - Perception 2 
E9
On Poetry and Trauma
SATURDAY
Online
 
3:00 - 4:00pm
Free

On Poetry and Trauma

So many experiences of sexual abuse and trauma are silenced. How do we find the voices to speak about what is hidden, or secret? How does poetry emerge, and what does it sound like? Where do we go from here? Alice Hiller’s debut collection, Bird of Winter, tackles being groomed and sexually abused in childhood. Acclaimed by Sasha Dugdale as ‘…the excavation of a city of grief from beneath the ashes of memory,’ it is shortlisted for the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection 2021. Chaucer Cameron’s pamphlet In an Ideal World I’d Not be Murdered, performs the voices of a group of women working as prostitutes: ‘Listen for the songs emerging from the dark centre of this transformative work of experience and survival,’ writes Jacqueline Saphra. Day Mattar’s debut pamphlet Springing from the Pews …explor[es] the experience of sexual abuse, marr[ying] form and content to stunning effect.’ (Alicia Stubbersfield). Tessa Foley’s new collection What Sort of a Bird are You?, exploring childhood and feminism, goes '...way beyond standard feminist poetry...[it is] a mirror of the dilemmas and struggles that young women face...' (Irena Hill).

*Content Warning: probable mention of sexual abuse, sexual assault, grooming, eating disorders.

Afternoon Talk 2  
E10
Following in the footsteps of John Clare
SATURDAY
Online
 
5:00 - 6:00pm
Free

Following in the footsteps of John Clare

The event opens with a reading by Robert Selby of his recent debut collection of Suffolk-inspired poems. This is followed by exploration of Robert Hamberger’s re-tracing of John Clare's 1841 walk home from Epping Forest to Werrington, near Peterborough. In interview with the Leicester-based poet, Pam Thompson, Hamberger discusses the research and writing of the book and reads from his memoir of that walk: A Length of Road: Finding myself in the footsteps of John Clare. He reads extracts from the prose account of his walk (undertaken in 1995, six weeks after he separated from his wife) and extracts from Clare's journal to highlight differences and similarities between the two walks. He and Pam Thompson read poems in the voices of Clare and those he met on his walk, and examine the issue of genre-fluid writing using Clare's 1830s sonnet Trespass as a way into examining the continuing dilemmas for working class writers.

Evening Reading Play 2  
Poetry, Popular Culture and Video Games
E11
SATURDAY
Online
 
7:00 - 8:00pm
Free

Poetry, Popular Culture and Video Games

How are popular culture and video games vehicles for exploring themes such as grief, loss and transcendence – all within poetic modalities of ‘play’? Can the virtual worlds of video games allow us to escape our grief, inhabit the lives of others, and reconnect with lost loved ones? Four poets carry us between experimental takes on traditional lyric, ecopoetics, post-internet pastoral and more multimedia approaches to gameplay poetics. In these poems, play is material and other-worldly; psychedelic and speculative; rich with multiple registers of irony, sincerity, intimacy and estrangement; an adventure into the sublime via a series of poetic software upgrades and object-poems. Maria Sledmere’s recent publications includes Lunar Erratum, which 'offers no truth except in things - colours, materials, beings and dreams...' (Sophie Collins). Calum Rodger released Occasional Poems 2012-2019, in 2020 with Speculative Books and Matthew Haigh’s debut collection, Death Magazine, was published with Salt in 2019 and was nominated for the Polari First Book Prize. Emma Filtness lectures in Creative Writing at Brunel University London – she works across poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction. Her most recent publication is Poison Garden (Osmosis Press)

After Dinner Event 2             
Bad Betty Poets followed by Open Mic          
E12
SATURDAY
Online
 
9:00 - 10:30pm
Free

Bad Betty Poets followed by Open Mic

Come and hear strange, raw and risk-taking poetry published by Bad Betty in a showcase event hosted by Bad Betty editor Amy Acre. Investigating perception, misconception and understanding, four poets read from collections that probe sexual politics, twist mythological narratives and experiment with disguise and role-play. Kirsten Luckins' epistolary collection Passerine (2021) charts a year in letters to a lost friend. S. Niroshini's debut Darling Girl (2021) explores Sri Lanka's troubled history, and the maelstrom required to reclaim oneself from unlawful ownership. Shareen K Murayama's Housebreak (tbp 2022) explores inherited language, local and global grief. Joel Auterson’s Unremember (2017) combines gaming-inspired experimentalism with compassionate storytelling.

 

 SUNDAY EVENTS

7th November

Lunchtime Reading Place 3    
E13
Human Impact on Nature, Landscape and Climate 
SUNDAY
Online
 
12:00 - 1:00pm
Free
Human Impact on Nature, Landscape and Climate 

This event brings together four poets all exploring in their own way our human relationship with nature, landscape and climate, conscious of our footprint, and the impact of our lives on our environment. Sarah Westcott’s first collection was described by Jacob Polley as 'fierce with intelligence’. Reading from her follow-up, Bloom, the poems approach the cultural and physical spaces where human and non-human lives co-exist or lead to species loss. Steph Morris' pamphlet Please don’t trample us; we are trying to grow! takes us on a temporal and psycho-geographical journey through both the urban and rural and ‘shines a light on small, devastating human cruelties’ but where ‘love persistently comes through’ (Jacqueline Saphra). In her latest book, Feverfew, Anna Saunders, poet and director of the Cheltenham Poetry festival, weaves together personae of myth such as Phaethon, Jupiter, Pan, and Aphrodite with a clear-voiced contemporary disquiet about a planet threatened by human-led climate destruction and passionate, nakedly confessional poems. Dom Bury, former National Poetry Competition winner, reads from his much-awaited debut Rite of Passage, a book that is an initiation into what it means to be alive on the planet in the midst of extinction, and of environmental collapse, and a journey into the shadow of man’s distorted relationship with the earth.

Afternoon Reading - Perception 3  

E14

Script, Shape and Image - the Poem and the Page

SUNDAY
Online
 
3:00 - 4:00pm
Free

Script, Shape and Image - the Poem and the Page

How do form and image – what is on the page, and what is not – shape poetry? How can they be used to speak about otherwise difficult things? The three projects explored in this session move between image, script, and shape as ways of reaching their material. Jo Morris Dixon’s debut pamphlet, I told you everything (Verve Press 2021), addresses coming-of-age themes which are often unexplored elsewhere, and Shash Trevett’s pamphlet From a Borrowed Land (Smith Doorstop 2021) is ‘…a troubling and enriching body of work, including both original poems and translations’ (Sasha Dugdale), which ‘… speaks for ‘a people now without a place’ (Vidyan Ravinthiran). In her most recent pamphlet From the Ikea Back Catalogue (New Walk, 2021), Lisa Kelly’s imagination ‘…wander[s] the … endless aisles of Ikea, [and] delves into language…’ (Briony Bax) through erasure and experiment, while Harry Man’s and Endre Ruset’s pamphlet Utøya Thereafter (Hercules Editions, 2021), deals with grief, the response to extreme right wing terrorism, literary translation, and healing, through a series of concrete elegies.

Late Afternoon Talk    
E15
Rory Waterman interviews Wendy Cope
SUNDAY
Online
 
5:00 - 6:00pm
Free

Rory Waterman talks to Wendy Cope

 

To celebrate a unique new study of the poet and her work, the academic, critic and poet Rory Waterman talks to Wendy Cope about her writing life and poetry career. Wendy Cope is one of Britain’s most popular poets: her first two collections have together sold almost half a million copies, and in 1998, when Ted Hughes died, she was the BBC listeners’ choice to succeed him as Poet Laureate. She is also contrarian and sometimes controversial, and has been celebrated as one of the finest parodists of her, or any, generation. Rory Waterman is recent author of Wendy Cope (LUP, 2021) and is Associate Professor at NTU. His most recent poetry collection, Sweet Nothings (2020) is published by Carcanet.

Evening Reading - Play 3   
E16
A Dream of Myself – Four Irish Poets Finale
7:00 - 8:00pm  
Free
SUNDAY
Online
 

A Dream of Myself – Four Irish Poets Finale

Can we live with the past, yet not be consumed by it? This event will show how themes of the sacred and the profane materialise in contemporary Irish poetry. With lyrics on sex, grief, loss, as well as hope and new life, Seán Hewitt will read from his book Tongues of Fire Cape 2020). Róisín Kelly’s Mercy (Bloodaxe 2020), attempts to reconcile her Catholic background with her pagan heritage, while Aoife Lyall’s Mother, Nature (Bloodaxe 2021) explores the tragic and tender experiences of pregnancy and early motherhood. Victoria Kennefick’s daring first book, Eat or We Both Starve (Carcanet 2021), forges recognisable set pieces into new shapes, ‘giving us poems that are honest and fearless’ (Rebecca Goss). Unmissable!