Category Archives: A Writers Fountain

Hay Festival – DO NOT Miss This!

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I posted Hay earlier but it was a review of events I attended on Saturday – some of which are now more than 24hrs old and only available through the Hay Player. I intended to make my posts within the same hours the events are still available for free.

Today I have visited the Hay tents a lot, I managed to catch a few events LIVE which is always special and is truly the way I intended to do it (which is why I sat online pre-booking tickets).

I watched the 2nd TRANS.MISSION II event this morning and learnt a lot more about political issues surrounding conservation efforts, which I didn’t realise was as damaging as it is, the borders they create. I enjoyed hearing again how scientists and artists have worked together. I love the fact that there are parallels to be found between this worlds. Again the videos are available on You Tube.

Naomi Millner, Ted Feldpausch and Juan Cárdenas in conversation with Andy Fryers

TRANS.MISSION II: THE HISTORY OF LIFE – UNDERSTANDING THE NATURAL RESOURCES OF COLOMBIA

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

Hay Festival and the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) present Trans.MISSION II, a new global project pairing leading environmental researchers with award-winning storytellers to communicate cutting-edge science to new audiences.

The Colombian strand of the project features Colombian writer and activist Juan Cárdenas and a team of experts led by Dr Naomi Milner and Dr Ted Feldpausch. Using the research work as inspiration, Juan has created a piece of creative writing to communicate the socio-ecological systems within Colombia and their response to environmental change. Dr Naomi Millner is Lecturer in Human Geography at  the University of Bristol and is working on one of three linked research projects under The Exploring & Understanding Colombian Bio Resources programme. Dr Ted Feldpausch is an Associate Professor at the University of Exeter whose research focuses on tropical forest and savanna ecology. Juan Cárdenas is a writer, creative writing teacher and activist who has worked extensively with Afrocolombian and indigenous communities mapping oral traditions. 

The story that Juan created using the research is called “Espiral” and can be watched here

At a time of unprecedented public interest in how human actions affect the environment, Trans.MISSION II pairs NERC researchers from Peru, Colombia and the UK with artists and storytellers in each country to create new stories about ongoing research projects.

 

I came across PEN in 2016 when I wrote a poem, subsequently published on Reuben Woolley’s site I am not a silent poet – we sadly lost Reuben but his site and the fight it demonstrates still remains. PEN campaign for the rights of artists who have been  wrongly imprisoned, the organisation promotes freedom of expression and literature across frontiers.

I know about Human Rights and some of the issues involved in this discussion, but I also discovered a lot. This is not an area now for activist and political anarchists, we all need to be involved in human rights. We need active citizens, now more than ever. The Cemetery of the Companionless on the outskirts of Instanbul – as mentioned in Elif Shafak’s book 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds and in this event has shocked me, the information is still reverberating around my head!

 

Here is an article she wrote The Guardian.

Elif Shafak and Philippe Sands

THE ENGLISH PEN PLATFORM: GIVING VOICE

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

A conversation about writing into an authoritarian world, finding ways of telling truths and making the case for Human Rights. Shafak is the author of the global bestseller 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World. She writes in both Turkish and English. Sands is a lawyer, President of English PEN and the author of the Baillie Gifford Prize-winning East West Street. Introduced by Daniel Gorman, director of English PEN.

As I write this blog post I am listening to Afua Hirsch’s lecture which is eye-opening, particularly on issues around local journalism, government propaganda and national press. The erosion between news and comment. A retrospective on the damage that has already happened and the use or misuse of public money. I am glad I decided to check this event out – which is another reason for HAY creating these events for free is a bonus. People may discover something or somebody they really needed in their lives.

Afua Hirsch

THE CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS LECTURE

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

What is the future of journalism in our newly wrangled world? Hirsch is Wallis Annenberg Chair at The University of Southern California. She is the author of Brit(ish) and Equal to Everything, and hosts the About The British Empire podcast on audible. She writes for the Guardian, and broadcasts internationally. Chaired by Rosie Boycott.

HAY Afua

James Shapiro’s discussion on Shakespeare in a Divided America was revealing and it was fascinating to hear how he became an expert on the subject following real life research rather than an academic route. I was very impressed with his Q&A, extended responses.

James Shapiro

SHAKESPEARE IN A DIVIDED AMERICA

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

Shakespeare’s position as England’s national poet is established and unquestionable.

But as James Shapiro illuminates in this revelatory new history, Shakespeare has long held an essential place in American culture. Why, though, would a proudly independent republic embrace England’s greatest writer? Especially when his works enact so many of America’s darkest nightmares: interracial marriage, cross-dressing, same-sex love, tyranny, and assassination

Investigating a selection of defining moments in American history – drilling into issues of race, miscegenation, gender, patriotism and immigration; encountering Presidents, activists, writers and actors – Shapiro leads us to fascinating answers and uncovers rich and startling stories.

Shapiro, who teaches English at Columbia University in New York, is author of several books, including 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare (winner of the BBC4 Samuel Johnson Prize in 2006), as well as Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? He also serves on the Board of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

 

After this came my festival HIGHLIGHT so far, though I think it will still be my highlight moment at the end of the May/the festival!

Inua Ellams

What I loved before this event started was the number of people in the comment box who have never seen him read/perform. Some had checked the NT (National Theatre) production ‘The Barbershop Chronicles’ out and come from there. This is no longer available for viewing – but if you ever get a chance. I discovered Inua Ellams late on, by late on I mean he is a poet who was not on my radar for a few years, then it took a few more years to see him anywhere within 200 miles as where I live! I eventually met him in Birmingham and subsequently have caught him perform at several festivals. He is a humble, spirited man – and he keeps basketballs on his bookcases! I thought he had moved from poetry to writing plays but through this event I discovered he had worked on this script for a while and wrote it not long after I met him. This is one of the reasons it was difficult to catch him on the poetry circuit, he was busy touring his show!

The event starts with a big surprise  –  I won’t spoil it for you (although it is probably all over the media by now)… I will add it once the event moves to Hay Player – what else can I say…

watch!

Inua Ellams

AN EVENING WITH AN IMMIGRANT IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC – OR AT LEAST A HALF HOUR

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

The multi-award-winning poet and playwright Inua Ellams introduces extracts from his celebrated autobiographical one-man show and discusses the latest twists and turns in his life with the online audience. Littered with poems, stories and anecdotes, the show tells his ridiculous, fantastic, poignant immigrant-story of escaping fundamentalist Islam, experiencing prejudice and friendship in Dublin, performing solo at the National Theatre, and drinking wine with the Queen of England, all the while without a country to belong to or place to call home.

HAY Inua Ellams

It was a JOY!

Hay Festival

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I spent much of Saturday involved in other online events and so had to play catch up with Hay – this meant that I didn’t get to blog it – so am keeping this brief as most events are now only available on Hay Player.

The first event I attended is now available on Hay Player. The TRANS. MISSION II project videos are available both on the Hay Festival website and You Tube and are worth having a watch for sure even if you missed this event. It was an interesting event covering difficult ecological problems.

Erika Stockholm, Jemma Wadham and Raul Loayza Murotalk to Andy Fryers

TRANS.MISSION II: IN HOT WATER – PERUVIAN GLACIAL RETREAT AND ITS IMPACT ON WATER SECURITY

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

Hay Festival and the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) present Trans.MISSION II, a new global project pairing leading environmental researchers with award-winning storytellers to communicate cutting-edge science to new audiences.

The Peruvian strand of the project features Peruvian writer Erika Stockholm, Professor Jemma Wadham from the University of Bristol Cabot Institute, Dr Raul Loayza Muro from Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Peru and a team of glaciology experts. Jemma researches hydrological and biogeochemical processes that occur within glacier and ice sheet systems and in their fore fields, which have a potential regional or global impact. Erika Stockholm is a writer, theatre producer and actress and President of the Asociación Cultural ¡Al teatro por primera vez!.

Using Professor Wadham’s work as inspiration, Erika created a story to spotlight Peruvian glacial retreat and its impact on water security and resilience to natural hazards. The story is called “Glacier Shallap – or the sad tale of a dying glacier” and it can be watched here.

At a time of unprecedented public interest in how human actions affect the environment, Trans.MISSION II pairs NERC researchers from Peru, Colombia and the UK with artists and storytellers in each country to create new stories about ongoing research projects.

 

Greg Jenner’s talk in contrast to the Natural Environment was humorous and a joy to watch. I am glad he changed his angle on writing this work and for him, that it happened at Chapter 1 and not half way through.

Greg Jenner talks to John Mitchinson

DEAD FAMOUS: AN UNEXPECTED HISTORY OF CELEBRITY FROM BRONZE AGE TO SILVER SCREEN

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

In this ambitious history Jenner assembles a vibrant cast of over 125 actors, singers, dancers, sportspeople, freaks, demigods, ruffians, and more, in search of celebrity’s historical roots. He reveals why celebrity burst into life in the early eighteenth century, how it differs to ancient ideas of fame, the techniques through which it was acquired, how it was maintained, the effect it had on public tastes, and the psychological burden stardom could place on those in the glaring limelight. Dead Famous is a surprising, funny, and fascinating exploration of both a bygone age and how we came to inhabit our modern, fame obsessed society.

Greg Jenner is a public historian, broadcaster, and author, and an Honorary Research Associate at Royal Holloway, University of London, where he does some occasional teaching. He is the Historical Consultant to BBC’s Emmy & multiple BAFTA award-winning Horrible Histories, and was a key member of the team on Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans. He is the host of the BBC comedy podcast You’re Dead To Me!, is a regular voice on BBC Radio 4, and his TV appearances include BBC2’s The Great History Quiz and Inside Versailles. His first book A Million Years In A Day was a UK number 1 audiobook bestseller and was translated into nine languages. Chaired by John Mitchinson of Unbound, formerly elf-convenor at QI.

And finally I watched Jonathan Bates, another Wordsworth event which I was very much looking forward to and is still available to rewatch for the next couple of hours. This was very informative and his book is going on my birthday list! I have included a link to the Waterstones website and his book – the official seller at Hay Festival and therefore offering a discount.

I liked hearing about Jonathan footstepping Wordsworth and also the historical context, some of which I knew and some I didn’t. A beneficial lecture. During this time of pandemic many of us are yearning for the natural world. Wordsworth is perhaps a way of finding this solace.

Jonathan Bate

THE POET WHO CHANGED THE WORLD: WILLIAM WORDSWORTH AND THE ROMANTIC REVOLUTION

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

A dazzling new biography of Wordsworth’s radical life as a thinker and poetical innovator, published to mark the 250th anniversary of his birth.

William Wordsworth wrote the first great poetic autobiography. We owe to him the idea that places of outstanding natural beauty should become what he called ‘a sort of national property’. He changed forever the way we think about childhood, about the sense of the self, about our connection to the natural environment, and about the purpose of poetry.

He was born among the mountains of the English Lake District. He walked into the French Revolution, had a love affair and an illegitimate child, before witnessing horrific violence in Paris. His friendship with Samuel Taylor Coleridge was at the core of the Romantic movement. As he retreated from radical politics and into an imaginative world within, his influence would endure as he shaped the ideas of thinkers, writers and activists throughout the nineteenth century in both Britain and the United States. 

-In association with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Wordsworth Trust-

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Radical Wordsworth

Hay Festival Today

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Friday 22nd May

I have used information from the website with snippet thoughts of reflection and review, for you to find them easily I have made them a different colour.

Today the first part of the programme I had booked was the talk with Gloria Steinem.

Gloria Steinem talks to Laura Bates

THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE, BUT FIRST IT WILL PISS YOU OFF

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

In a special recording of the Hay Festival Podcast, the writer shares her Thoughts on Life, Love and Rebellion with the founder of The Everyday Sexism Project. For decades, people around the world have found guidance, humour and unity in Gloria Steinem’s gift for creating quotes that offer hope and inspire action. From her early days as a journalist and feminist activist, Steinem’s words have helped generations to empower themselves and work together.

It was interesting and enthralling and attended by over 7700 people!

Some take away quotations:

‘pay attention to the particular’

‘If you do one true thing, it stays true.’

Part of the discussion revolved around empathy and I discovered some scientific facts which I had not previously considered – which I think is important to pass forward in our current world, which due to the pandemic is increasingly moving online.

Empathy – relies on a release of hormone which only occurs in real life, that communicating digitally doesn’t allow this natural reaction to happen and this, I think can lead to digital communication being misinterpreted or cause more harm than good sometimes. So remember you can’t feel what they feel when communicating digitally!

Another reason why human interaction is necessary/essential for us.

Hay Gloria

 

After this, I dipped into the first event on the replay option.

Jane Davidson, Mark Drakeford, Sophie Howe and Eluned Morgan

#FUTUREGEN – WALES AND THE WORLD

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

Jane Davidson explains how, as Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing in Wales, she helped create the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015—the first piece of legislation on Earth to place regenerative and sustainable practice at the heart of government. Unparalleled in its scope and vision, the Act connects environmental and social health and looks to solve complex issues such as poverty, education and unemployment. She is joined by the First Minister for Wales, the Minister for International Affairs, and the Future Generations Commissioner.

#futuregen is the inspiring story of a small, pioneering nation discovering prosperity through its vast natural beauty, renewable energy resources and resilient communities. It’s a living, breathing prototype for local and global leaders as proof of what is possible in the fight for a sustainable future. Chaired by Guto Harri.

 

And then as I was still online I decided to rock up to the next event too before needing to recharge the laptop (which is a bit old and fully loaded and won’t recharge and work at the same time anymore, I kind of know how it feels)!

Naomi Oreskes talks to Nick Stern

THE BRITISH ACADEMY LECTURE: WHY TRUST SCIENCE

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

Do doctors really know what they are talking about when they tell us vaccines are safe? Should we take climate experts at their word when they warn us about the perils of global warming?  Oreskes shows how consensus is a crucial indicator of when a scientific matter has been settled, and when the knowledge produced is likely to be trustworthy.

Naomi Oreskes is professor of the history of science and affiliated professor of Earth and planetary sciences at Harvard University. Her books include The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future and Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. 

Sometimes the universe offers us time to sit with something, there is always a reason. I think this may have been mine… (obviously it was meant in the context of scientists, who like teachers are trained to be not address personal concern, not to add opinion or personal belief – personal values will undermine their objectivity as scientists/ teachers)

Talking honestly about our motivations – makes us more trustworthy. 

 

Following this event there was more, I may find some time to watch these before the videos disappears.

Dara McAnulty and Steve Silberman

DIARY OF A YOUNG NATURALIST

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

Diary of a Young Naturalist chronicles the turning of 15-year-old Dara McAnulty’s world. From spring and through a year in his home patch in Northern Ireland, Dara spent the seasons writing. These vivid, evocative and moving diary entries about his connection to wildlife and the way he sees the world are raw in their telling. “I was diagnosed with Asperger’s/autism aged five … By age seven I knew I was very different, I had got used to the isolation, my inability to break through into the world of talking about football or Minecraft was not tolerated. Then came the bullying. Nature became so much more than an escape; it became a life-support system.” Diary of a Young Naturalist portrays Dara’s intense connection to the natural world, and his perspective as a teenager juggling exams and friendships alongside a life of campaigning. “In writing this book,” Dara explains, “I have experienced challenges but also felt incredible joy, wonder, curiosity and excitement. In sharing this journey my hope is that people of all generations will not only understand autism a little more but also appreciate a child’s eye view on our delicate and changing biosphere.”

Steve Silberman is an award-winning investigative reporter and has covered science and cultural affairs for Wired and other national magazines for more than twenty years. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, TIME, Nature and Salon. He won the 2015 Samuel Johnson/Baillie Gifford Prize for his book Neurotribes.

 

Esther Duflo, chaired by Evan Davis

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES: BETTER ANSWERS TO OUR BIGGEST PROBLEMS

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

The 2019 Nobel Prize-winning economist Esther Duflo shows how economics, when done right, can help us solve the thorniest social and political problems of our day. From immigration to inequality, slowing growth to accelerating climate change, we have the resources to address the challenges we face but we are so often blinded by ideology.

Original, provocative and urgent, Good Economics for Hard Times offers the new thinking that we need. It builds on cutting-edge research in economics – and years of exploring the most effective solutions to alleviate extreme poverty – to make a persuasive case for an intelligent interventionism and a society built on compassion and respect. A much-needed antidote to polarized discourse, this book shines a light to help us appreciate and understand our precariously balanced world. Her work has never seemed so urgent.

 

Fernando Montaño

HAY FESTIVAL CARTAGENA PRESENTS: UNA BUENA VENTURA

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

Colombian dancer Fernando Montaño is a Soloist of The Royal Ballet and the first Colombian to join the company. He arrived in 2006, was promoted to First Artist in 2010 and to Soloist in 2014. In 2019 he received an Honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Bath University. He will dance accompanied by readings of excerpts from his memoir, translated as A Boy with a Beautiful Dream, about his humble origins and his amazing journey to stardom. At his lockdown studio in Los Angeles, Fernando is now developing a film adaptation of his book. From here he will dance the death of the Swan as a more contemporary version of this quarantine and the marimba dance, inspired by the ballet and folklore of Colombia. Writer Ella Windsor will also read her Foreword to his powerful story.

I watched this in the early hours of the morning as I finished this blog post. I danced for half my life (more than twice the number of years I have been writing), I have always loved watching autodocs about the dancers. I also love watching dance. The video of this session satisfied both. It was very touching and Fernando Montaño is humble of spirit and gloriously talented in body – his arms move with the fluidity of water – just watch! 

 

 

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The rest of today did not go according to scheduled plan so some of the events I had registered to attend I had to dip into the videos afterwards. The internet connection is as sketchy as dial-up used to be at the moment. No surprise with the whole town in isolation/lockdown. Unfortunately this also meant missing a Poetry Book Launch this evening – which happened in between the Hay events. I had hoped it would have been recorded, but I couldn’t find it – I have since heard from the poet and the publisher will release it so I will watch and blog about it then!

My evening was supposed to start with a live viewing of the 5th event which I have been looking forward to since I discovered (or Mr G discovered) Hay was online this year. I watched it and thoroughly enjoyed it as my own special late night Hay – which is, how I imagine many people will be tuning in. So I watched Stephen Fry live before this but I have kept the review in chronological order.

Simon Armitage, Margaret Atwood, Benedict Cumberbatch, Monty Don, Lisa Dwan, Inua Ellams, Stephen Fry, Tom Hollander, Toby Jones, Helen McCrory, Jonathan Pryce and Vanessa Redgrave

WORDSWORTH 250: A NIGHT IN WITH THE WORDSWORTHS

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

A gala performing of William’s poetry and Dorothy’s journals begins our 250th anniversary celebrations with a superstar cast reading work that will include Intimations of Immortality, Daffodils, lines composed both Upon Westminster Bridge and Above Tintern Abbey, The Prelude and We Are Seven. Hosted and introduced by Shahidha Bari.

 

I was really looking forward to this group of readings and hearing extracts from Dorothy’s Journals. 

I spent a lot longer watching this session than the duration. Feasting on the words and the depth of analysis one expects from Hay. If you like Wordsworth, enjoy learning about classic poets or hearing a mixture of actors, poets and presenters reading, then this event is for you. ‘This Gala reading is part of a wider project which Hay Festival are developing with Arts Humanities Research Council and their boundless creativity programme.’

I have to say it was a real treat. A gala of this standard was bound to be – I mean, just look at that list! I particularly enjoyed Toby Jones reading, Tom Hollander could have read Wordsworth to me all night, his reading surprised me, it found all the depth of Wordsworth’s words. I know he’s a trained actor – but… so am I and I don’t read poetry like that! As did Stephen Fry and Jonathan Pryce – who really got the words speaking – this is as much to do with the poetry as it is their narration. Not just voice, but emotional understanding of the text. Embodiment of Wordsworth’s mind almost as character, or at least that it how they make me feel when they read it. It is late and I have been listening to readings for hours! There was also a wonderful moment when Helen McCrory reading from Dorothy’s Alfoxden Journal had to read about sheep in a field as she was being accompanied by a sheep bleating! 

As our Nation’s Poet Laureate I was interested in Armitage’s bookcase. Lots of people are in front of books that I speak to – we’re writers, it is no surprise and I know there are readers out there too (thank goodness) but there is also a fashion to grab what books you can and create that shelf-full-of-knowledge-shelf – I see it a lot on TV at present, so I find it amusing and don’t pay any attention to the backdrop. But here I did. I admit I listened to his readings first and then replayed that section and had a closer look. I also enjoyed Inua Ellams bookshelves with basketballs. I love his poetry and was looking forward to him reading this evening. I know he’s also writing plays so we may see less of him in the poetry world – but am looking forward to his event later on this Hay week. 

Professor Shahidha Bari is a knowledgeable and passionate presenter who held the event together and hosted a live chat at the end.

This was a wonderful, thoroughly enjoyable event and one I wish was recorded and archived on my system forever. You can rewatch it for until tomorrow evening and then after that it is available for a small fee through Hay Player. 

And finally –

Stephen Fry…

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TROY

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

The actor and author previews scenes from the third part of his Greek trilogy, which follows Mythos and Heroes.

 

This event was had a Q & A after the reading – due to technical issues there was a slight delay in which some of us who have been to Hay had a random-stranger-natter as we may have done if we were in Hay-on-Wye for real, the pre-event conversation was certainly worth a read, any conversation during an event (they wouldn’t have talking in the tents) tends to be technical issue queries or slightly adolescent commentary. So, it is worth knowing that the chat box on Crowd Cast can be closed click the small arrow at the top on the right. It is constantly moving throughout events and you may be there to listen to the speaker. 

I treated Stephen to a full screen, I knew this would be interesting and I know Fry often does Hay and speaks well and is certainly knowledgeable and able to handle a Q & A. 

He talked about Greek mythology, translations and modern retellings. He talked of those who blaze like stars and others who choose to lead a long, stable life. He seemed in no hurry to leave and I am sure he would have carried on batting the 100s of questions he had been asked. It gave me that same blessed feeling you have when a band gives you a really long set before an interval. The event was over an hour long I think. 

Very much worth a listen. 

If you are reading this within 24 hours of the original event times the videos should still be available here -after this you can pay to watch them with Hay Player.

Images Hayfestival.com © 2020

Hay Festival Goes Digital

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I have had the pleasure of attending online festivals since Lockdown began and I haven’t managed a timely blogpost for any of them. You will note that Hay events started on the 18th with the schools programme – the full programme is available and tickets for all events are FREE. You can watch missed events for 24 hours and after that pay a small fee to watch on Hay Player.

For those of us who have experienced it for real, it is not the same – however it has opened it up to a wider amount of global audiences and it is wonderful that access is free.

ENJOY!

HAY culturewhisper

© Culturewhisper

Here is more information: Source hayfestival.com

HAY FESTIVAL DIGITAL #IMAGINETHEWORLD TAKING PLACE ONLINE 18 – 31 MAY

Hay Festival Digital #imaginetheworld runs 18–22 May with our Programme for Schools featuring fabulous authors including Cressida CowellPatrice Lawrence and Onjali Q Rauf. From 22–31 May, Hay Festival Digital takes place online with interactive events from more than 100 award-winning writers, global policy makers, historians, pioneers and innovators, celebrating the best new fiction and non-fiction, and interrogating some of the biggest issues of our time.

Attending Hay Festival Digital 2020 online is completely free and couldn’t be easier. Simply browse the programme below as you normally would and, if an event interests you, click the Register link to save your spot. Your virtual seat will be confirmed by email, and we will even email you again ten minutes before the show to remind you the event is about to start. You can chat with other audience members and ask questions of the speakers, just as you would at a real Hay Festival event.

Here’s more information on how to register

All our events take place at the BST advertised. If you are accessing from a different time zone it will still be possible to replay for free up to 24 hours after the event. Following this all events will be available on Hay Player.

 

Programme

My Huge Lockdown Writing World

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Like many people right now, we are in Lockdown. I’m keeping very busy, possibly even busier than I would be if I was balancing the job and the writing. I am a lot better health-wise and this new lifestyle has the benefits of being easier on my body, enabling me to perhaps do more and I also find staying busy in times of crisis helps me cope. Believe me there is plenty to keep me busy beyond the desk too.

My normal to do list would be A5, at the minute I feel I need A3! Anyone else the same? I think part of this busy is coming off the back of being out of action for so long, especially in fast moving worlds like the Arts, so much has happened that I have not seen/read/heard as I wasn’t just away from the scene, I was away from my brain for most of the 14 months too! I am thoroughly enjoying being a glutton of creative endeavours and as the world moves online the globe shrinks too! I find I can reconnect with people I have not seen for a long while.

I have spent the past 3 weeks (since the end of NaPo) thinking I should blog about that, but because I am writing again after a long, fallow period, I am struggling to find time to write about the writing! I will be posting retrospectively but there are a few events coming up that I shall blog over the coming week. Some fresh content for you all to enjoy will come after that.

 

In the meantime, there’s plenty already in here – use the menus and have a splash about.

 

Stay Safe.

NaPoWriMo The Extra Bit

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Read the full post here.

Hello, everyone! We made it through another Na/GloPoWriMo. I hope you feel that you’ve written good poems and stretched yourself in your writing.

I also want to thank you for coming back to this site each year! It heartens me, especially in this particularly hard April, to see so many people gather for the love of poetry, and support one another in their efforts!

Final featured participant for the year is Gloria D. Gonsalves, who reminds us, with her poem based on Day 30’s “returning” prompt, that a “rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.”

Na/GloPoWriMo will be back next year, of course, with more prompts and resources. In the meantime, all the posts from this year will remain available.

In the meantime, if you just can’t get enough poetry prompts, you might enjoy the weekly prompts that Poets & Writers provides, these 30 prompts created by Kelli Russell Agodon, this list of 101 poetry prompts, or the weekly (and in April, daily) prompts provided by Robert Lee Brewer at Writer’s Digest.

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And of course for many of us there will still be some NaPo prompts we want to finish writing for! That is the 6th year I have taken part and as with every year I think there are a handful of promising poems that I look forward to coming back to.

I usually work straight onto the computer but since lockdown have attempted to cheer myself up by using some of the waiting in the wings notebooks, like most of us I love a special journal and often buy them and store them away, am sometimes reluctant to ruin them with inside scribbles. I worried the other day that I would run out, but remembered where there are more so no need to start ordering a rescue package yet. The same with pens, have enough of those to last. Didn’t panic buy but seems like I’ve been preparing to be a writer in Lockdown for most of my adult life!

I also like to think that there will be a shelf somewhere in our house where all these will sit, an almanac to that time the world changed without actually keeping any sort of historic record.

A huge thanks to Maureen Thorson for another year of NaPoWriMo prompts and the bountiful resources you have delivered to our screens this year.

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I started with Gloria’s poem, there are some beautiful lines. I then looked over the suggested resources, many from sites I have in the past or currently use. If you are looking for a meatier prompt then starting with the Poets & Writers site is a good idea.

I must have downloaded the Kelli Russell Agodon PDF at least 3 times. I’ve also used the prompts from thinkwritten.com the site has some interesting articles you may want to peruse.

I usually do the PAD challenge at the same time as NaPoWriMo but this year as the world moved online I have been busy with other writing too, so just focused on Maureen’s prompts, I have used the Writer’s Digest website often though. I have discovered these sites already, if you haven’t you are in for a treat and many constantly update the prompts so you can always find something new later in the year… because to be honest, right now… you probably just need a Post NaPo Nap!

Who’s going to join me? exit

woman sitting on chair while leaning on laptop

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 30

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Read the full post here.

Well, everyone, it’s finally here – the last day of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo 2020! I hope you’ve enjoyed the challenge.

Featured participant is paeansunpluggedblog, where you will find a charming ode to a doggy companion.

Our poetry resource for the day is this PDF of A Handbook of Poetic Forms, edited by Ron Padgett.

Our final prompt! I’d like to challenge you to write a poem about something that returns. For, just as the swallows come back to Capistrano each year.

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I can’t believe another year of NaPo finishes today. I have dropped off a daily NaPo write this week as there has been other writing taking up the time. But I was on track for the first 3 weeks. Usually I am juggling work and this – and this may well be the only year I haven’t had to do that. It has been enjoyable and some of the resourceresources have been fantastic. I look forward to sifting through all the poems and see which ones have standing legs. Then I will dress them/edit them and maybe even submit them or publish them in the future.

I hope you have enjoyed the challenge and the daily process notes posted here.

There was a lot packed into today’s featured poem, I still have my pet writing to do. The resource is useful and as it is for secondary school explanations are clear – although I had to ignore that Back to School feeling it gave me.

I am considering the prompt for today and also looking at other writing in progress to see if I can combine a couple. I have also banked some of the ideas from this resource.

 

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 29

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Read the full post here.

Featured participant today is Minutes Past Midnight, where the “remembered bedroom” prompt for Day 28 led to a detailed yet not entirely comforting remembrance.

Our featured resource for the day is a two-fer: (1) these tips on  how to memorize a poem, and (2) these tips on how to recite one out loud. Memorizing and reciting favorite poems is a very good way to internalize the rhythms and sounds of poetry (which helps in generating your own poems).

Today’s prompt, I challenge you to write a paean to the stalwart hero of your household: your pet. Sing high your praises and tell the tale of Kitty McFluffleface’s ascension of Mt. Couch. 

If you don’t have a pet, perhaps you know one or remember one who deserves to be immortalized in verse. For inspiration, a selection from an 18th-century poem by Christopher Smart, Jubilate Agno.

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The poem is unsettling – this description pulled me… it was the use of ‘understory’ but then I remembered from teaching Rain Forests that this is a technical term. In a poem it has many layers (no wordplay intended in that statement)!

My nook
is shadowed by
a fountain palm

its understory
littered by all sorts
of dry, brown things.

The poetry resources are great! Despite having a background in Drama/Acting and countless scripts I learnt with ease and knew all the other character dialogue too – a life where I learn 30 names within 60 minutes, I really struggle to learn my poems. I have about 5 banked.

I know the tip is for memorising other people’s poems like we used to at school and in Learn by Heart drives. For me it would be more useful if I transposed the skills to my own work. Especially as I have only just started performing again.

The other tip I would pass forward is record it and listen to it repeatedly.

I love Billy Collins – have the pleasure of one of his books on my shelves. It was nice to listen to the explanation rather than reading the transcript too.

I thought the prompt today was a little left-field for those of us who are pet-less. But fortunately I have a nephew who was famed for his pet cupboard spider, have had both a cat and dog and lots of fish – some were welcomed into our home by watching Mr G. and I eat sushi! At uni there were a couple of housemates who had a pet can of pineapple pieces called Derek, I love how NaPo brings such memories to the surface. Random. All these ideas could give birth to poems.

I am off for a wander around my lockdown home to find what else could be baited for today’s poetry fodder.

Will update when done.

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 28

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Read the full post here (although it is almost fully copied as Emily Dickinson is one of my favourites).

There are just three days left in our annual challenge. Congratulations to everyone who has made it this far! 

Featured participant for the day is benkoans, where you will find a spot-on review of the various software programs we are supposed to use to work and learn during these days of social distancing.

Speaking of socially distancing, our poetry resource for the day this online archive of the manuscripts of the famously reclusive Emily Dickinson. Now one of the most-admired poets the United States has produced, Dickinson was little known in her lifetime. She left behind hundreds of poems, often drafted on scraps of paper, backs of envelopes, etc. And an especial point of interest is her amendments and edits. She often provided several different alternatives for given nouns or verbs in poems, as if she was continually revising or trying out new ones. When I am revising my own poems, and come across a dull or commonplace noun or verb that seems  to drag down a line, I think  of Dickinson, and try to come up with four or five alternatives, seeking a word that is a little bit wild, and will help to deepen the poem, or even turn it in a new direction.

Today’s prompt is brought to us by the Emily Dickinson Museum. First, read this brief reminiscence of Emily Dickinson, written by her niece. And now, here is the prompt that the museum suggests:

Martha Dickinson Bianchi’s description of her aunt’s cozy room, scented with hyacinths and a crackling stove, warmly recalls the setting decades later. Describe a bedroom from your past in a series of descriptive paragraphs or a poem. It could be your childhood room, your grandmother’s room, a college dormitory or another significant space from your life.

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I am still catching up with NaPo from yesterday so don’t want to read the featured poem until I have had a chance of writing mine.
I love Emily Dickinson’s poetry so I am looking forward to coming back and working through the prompt.
And as the universe would have took part in a workshop on Monday morning as part of the Stay at Home Fringe Festival with Susmita Bhattacharya where we looked at/wrote about our childhood bed. Although I was writing prose, it brought some previously blocked memories up which I could use today to write a poem.
I often write about place and both pamphlets have got place/room poems in them.
Fabricious Avenue (which actually came from a Colour prompt in 52) in Fragile Houses
fragile-houses-best   The Dark House among others in Patiencepatience cover
(Got to love a stealth-ish book plug) – haven’t even started promoting ^ the new one yet, more to come post-NaPo!

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 26

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Read the full post here.

Featured participant today is Barbara Turney Wieland, who stepped up admirably in response to Day 25’s Schuyler-based prompt, providing us with a wonderfully-textured anatomy of a hike in the country-side.

Today’s poetry resource is a series of videos being placed online by the organizers of the New Orleans Poetry Festival

Our prompt – you will need to fill out, in five minutes or less, the following “Almanac Questionnaire.” Then, use your responses as to basis for a poem.

 

Almanac Questionnaire

Weather:
Flora:
Architecture:
Customs:
Mammals/reptiles/fish:
Childhood dream:
Found on the Street:
Export:
Graffiti:
Lover:
Conspiracy:
Dress:
Hometown memory:
Notable person:
Outside your window, you find:
Today’s news headline:
Scrap from a letter:
Animal from a myth:
Story read to children at night:
You walk three minutes down an alley and you find:
You walk to the border and hear:
What you fear:
Picture on your city’s postcard: 

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Just as the workshop poem from Day 25 was a dense text so too is today’s participant site write. Both were enjoyable reads. I liked the option of listening to the James Schuyler though. I did both, I only listened after I had read the poem for myself and ‘inside such walks as these’ holds lots of elements from Schuyler and both poem deserve time to sit with. I spent a large majority of the day with this prompt.

It produced writing very different to most things I write, more in tone of my random journalling.

Today I enjoyed looking through the poetry resource and will be back to explore the festival fully.

I revisited James Schuyler and let him speak his poem as I read.

I do remember the almanac prompt and wrote out my list of prompts to go and write as I sit in the sunshine in the garden that Mr G. has worked so hard on clearing today.