BREAKFAST TALK – ON NARRATIVE IN POETRY
For most of its history - in oral and written forms - poems have been used to tell stories. But what role do narrative poems have today? Should poems tell stories? What about the lyric poem? Is it the enemy of narrative? In this lecture (with added diagrams), Will Harris will argue for the reinvention of the narrative poem today. Coffee and croissants included.
THE WASTE LAND – A PERFORMANCE
The Waste Land is commonly regarded as the most influential poem of modern times. It has been said to reflect the catastrophe of the First World War; it has been said to explore sexual relations, mythology, spirituality, moral decay. It has been described as a poem about rebirth; it has been described as a poem about death. It has been considered as among the most truthful poems of the age; it has been labelled a masterful fake. Drawing upon archive images and recordings, Matthew Hollis recounts the story of the poem’s invention and its skilful editing by Ezra Pound. He is joined by Richard Scott for a dramatic reading of the complete poem.
NO FAR SHORE – CHARTING UNKNOWN WATERS
Hear the tale of a coastal quest (in talk, excerpts, image & music) which took poet Anne-Marie Fyfe from her native Cushendall by way of Felixstowe, Orkney, Barra, Swansea & Cork to Cape Cod & Cape Breton Island. Looking into myth, memoir & the mesmerised horizon-gazing of maritime writers such as Virginia Woolf & Elizabeth Bishop, & back, emotionally, through shifting tidelines of memory to chart the hidden inlets & unexpected deeps in her own family narrative.
POETRY OF WITNESS –
DICTATORSHIP, ECOLOGY, TERRORISM
Poet Carmen Bugan was born in Romania and emigrated to the U.S. in 1989. Her work ‘reckons with the legacy of totalitarianism, including the crippling effects of the culture of surveillance that existed under Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’ (Poetry Foundation). Her first collection Crossing the Carpathians is rooted in her experience of Eastern Europe in the mid-1980s as a child of political dissidents. Richard Osmond’s second book, Rock, Paper, Scissors, presents an extraordinary, collaged response to the poet’s direct experience of the terrorist attack in London on June 3rd, 2017 – ‘a powerful and challenging collection of original poems representing the complex, fragmentary nature of traumatic experience’ (Picador). Seán Hewitt’s Lantern is a kind of ‘prayer: to the wych-elm and to the darkness, and to the secret language of oak, to queer spaces, consecrated places of communion and sex, secluded and dripping with rain’. Poems looking close up loss, seeing the woods as grief grown from the earth.
How do we look at a difficult past? Carolyn Forché has put forward the notion of ‘poetry of witness’ for a category of poems that ‘bear the race of extremity’ and end up as ‘evidence of what occurred’. Three poets explore very different and difficult themes with Will Harris moderating.
Gale Burns, Kathryn Maris, Tom Sastry and Laura Scott
ALL THE ROOMS OF THE HOUSE – FOUR POETS
Gale Burns’ Mute House explores the familiar close to home – ‘where horses swish their tails and nod, while noisy rooks picket the dead elms’ – but also takes us further afield from France to Sweden and Hungary. What to do when everything goes up in flames? In A Man’s House Catches Fire Tom Sastry ‘pivots mid-sentence from sassy deadpan to the ruinously heartfelt’ (Poetry School), his museums full of regret, misenchantments and magic. Laura Scott’s So Many Rooms contains ‘unerringly deft poems that reveal what Marianne Moore once called the “mystery of construction”, bathing the everyday in a light both compassionate and uncanny’ (Mark Ford). Kathryn Maris’ The House with Only an Attic and a Basement, suggests a bodiless house where husbands are lofty leading wives to take refuge in the attic. Playing with psychology and the Greek classics, entertaining and precarious poems.
The word ‘stanza’ means room. And so the poem itself is a house, often a construct of many rooms. Four poets read from work – including three debut collections – that is by no means immobile or quietly domestic.
CARCANET AT 50 –
POETS THROUGH THE GENERATIONS
Brackenbury’s Gallop (Selected) assembles poems ‘haunted by horses, unseasonable love, history, hares and unreasonable hope’. Sansom, whose own Selected was published in 2010, makes a rare appearance as poet not editor (Smiths/Doorstop), reading from Careful What You Wish For. Interspersed with poems from Julia Blackburn, John Greening, Lisa Kelly, Mina Gorji (collection next year) and Jamie Osborne (New Poetries VII)
To celebrate 50 years of the Manchester-based independent poetry publisher, this event brings together Carcanet poets of
all ages and provenances. Two feature readings from Alison Brackenbury and Peter Sansom, followed by a five poet showcase.
LUNCHTIME TALK –
THE BEST OF CONTEMPORARY US POETRY
Gregory Pardlo showcases the most exciting new American voices. There are auspicious signs that the US American literary landscape is growing more diverse. Prestigious prizes have helped writers of colour reach broader audiences in the last few years, a trend that seems to be on the rise. This warrants celebration. We should also celebrate the poems themselves, the experiences they reflect, and the impact these have on the landscape.
For this talk, he will read and discuss poems from a range of American poets who have significant influence on American poetry today. These will include Vievee Francis, Jericho Brown, Ada Limon and Shane McCrae.
RELEASE FROM THE DREAM – ON TONY HOAGLAND
Festival-goers in 2015 described him as a ‘breath-of-fresh-air American whose reading was sharp, funny, poignant and moving’ (Robin Houghton), and one of several voices that ‘lift you off your feet and send you spinning’ (Pam Thompson).
Hoagland taught creative writing at the University of Houston and was published in the UK with Bloodaxe. His collections stem from Sweet Rain (1992) to What Narcissism Means to Me (2003) and Priest Turned Therapist Treats Fear of God (2018). His poetry is known for ‘its acerbic, witty take on contemporary life and “straight talk” […] demonically in touch with the American demotic.’ (Dwight Garner, New York Times).
Tony Hoagland read at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in 2015. The concert hall at Snape was packed and all his books sold out. Sadly, he died only three years later in October 2018.
This event brings together two British and two American poets to celebrate his life and work. Moderated by Kathryn Maris, we hear personal insights from Martin Shaw (Hoagland’s close friend and co-author), Josh Weiner and Peter Sansom.
SOUTH COAST POETS VENTURE EAST
Maria Jastrzębska came to the UK from Poland as a child – her work explores boundaries and borders, drawing on this dual background as well as on other European and American cultures. The True Story of Cowboy Hat and Ingénue is her new book of prose poetry. ‘Maria Jastrzębska’s poems open out like adventures in a dual land that is both here and elsewhere’ (George Szirtes). Clare Best has lived all her life in the UK and writes of inner migrations and journeys. Her new collection Each Other presents ‘closely observed, exquisitely wrought poems about love and its endurance’ (Mara Bergman).
Grace Nichols and Maria Jastrzębska live on the South Coast, as Clare Best did too until last year when she moved to the Suffolk coast and this year joined the Poetry in Aldeburgh festival team. Grace Nichols was born in Guyana and spent the first 27 years of her life there, arriving in the UK in the 1970s, and her poetry still carries Caribbean rhythms, memories and cultures. In her most recent collection, The Insomnia Poems, ‘memories of her own Guyana childhood mingle with the sleeping spectres of dreams and folk legends such as 'Sleeping Beauty’.
UNPACKING THE SIX PACK ...to end the weekend
Lewis Buxton moderates on poetry and masculinity with
Seán Hewitt, Richard Osmond, Gregory Pardlo, Anna Selby
Join a panel of poets writing as they unpack the six pack, unlearn toxic language and look to creatively reconstruct masculinity. This discussion and readings of favourite poems will go beyond the buzzwords and look at how masculinity, sport and the body arrive in poetry and what role poetry can play in subverting or reimagining gender in our society.
Following the readings, do come to the Jubilee Hall for the big party!
GODS, GIRLS AND RECKLESS BIRDS –
FINALE OF FOUR POETS
Mona Arshi, 'continues to draw on the natural world as a source of inspiration and solace, but which depicts the realities of grief with a sense of detachment'. Dzifa Benson is a multi-disciplinary live artist who uses literature as her primary mode of expression. John McCullough's first collection 'Frost Fairs' won the Polari First Book Prize while his follow-up 'Spacecraft' was one of The Guardian's best books for summer 2016. Rebecca Goss was one of the Poetry Book Society's 20 poets of the next generation in 2015. She follows her acclaimed second collection, 'Her Birth' - a work of ‘immense grace’ (Poetry London), and opens onto new territory in a study of girlhood that deals candidly with the physical and mental quakes that follow illness and trauma.
Our festival finale of poetry fireworks brings together four hugely distinct voices with new collections and work. Mona Arshi, who won the Forward Prize for First Collection in 2015, reads from her much-awaited second collection 'Dear Little Gods', which was included in The Guardian's June 2019 best recent poetry round up. Dzifa Benson was selected for the Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critics Scheme in 2017. The intersections between science, art, the body and ritual animate Dzifa’s practice. John McCullough launches his third full collection 'Reckless Birds' which Richard Scott has called 'such transformative magic!'. Following her popular and moving reading with the Laureates in Aldeburgh Church in 2018,
Rebecca Goss performs work from her recently published third collection 'Girl'. After the four readings, do stay on at the end for the big party!
FESTIVAL CLOSING PARTY
SUNDAY 5 - 6:30pm
Food and Wine
with jazz from The Ashby Quintet
Max Avery – keyboards
Peter Murphy-Cload – electric guitar
Rory Murphy-Cload – drums
George Richardson - bass guitar
Freddie Willatt – saxophone