Category Archives: Festival

Hay Festival Digital 2020 The Outstanding Moments

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I am delighted that Lockdown has brought Creatives out in force, there have been so many festivals, workshops and opportunities and it is also a way of supporting each other (those millions of self-employed, some of whom are artists) and a way of rallying together to lift spirits and improve people’s mental health during this isolation, during this fear of the pandemic, during this strange time that none of us have experienced before. And this week was the turn of Hay.

HAY culturewhisper

The Hay Festival is one of the world’s top literary festivals, staged in the small town on the Wales-England border. ©2011 BBC 

It is well known to be a particularly pricey festival, it is epic and brilliant if you have a chance to experience it in real life – I have always loved Hay-on-Wye (famous for all the bookshops – Richard Booth is credited with transforming the town into a global attraction for second-hand book lovers after opening his first shop in 1962) and I love the Hay Festival, the tents, events, atmosphere, joy and buoyancy you will experience there cannot be compared to many things other than a sugar rush! Some others have said it more eloquently!

Memorable quotes at the festival: “The Woodstock of the Mind” – former US President Bill Clinton.

“In my mind it’s replaced Christmas” – former Labour cabinet minister Tony Benn.

“One of the finest, most thought-provoking literary gatherings I’ve ever attended” – Junot Díaz, Dominican-American writer and creative writing professor. © BBC

HAY BANNER

However, it is not one I can afford to attend every year. I fully expected the events to be ticketed so waited expectantly for the programme to be released and was OVERJOYED (Yes! I’m shouting) when they provided it all for FREE! That in itself is astonishing.

I know they all wished it could be happening as normal, but let’s face it – there is not much that is normal anymore. I honestly didn’t feel like I was screen bound and experiencing a digital festival. It had the real Hay feeling. It helps that they could use the HAY music and screens that would have been playing in the tents as we found our seats. Although HAY is a HUGE festival, the tents don’t take 100,000 visitors and they had an international audience of over 10,000 at the big events and on average I was watching with around 5000 other people, some of whom will never experience Hay and so have had a true blessing to get a little of the 2020 action digitally. Hay has over 250,000 during the course of the week, but I think data for this year will sky rocket that!

I know a whole team was involved in decision making but using Crowd Cast was a good move, chat can be turned off and the screen can (as with the entire internet) be full screen, our lounge furniture is infinitely more comfortable than auditorium seating (although it’s not bad), refreshments were free and MOST importantly sessions were short (suiting the human attention span) and there were intervals between. Perfect.

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I missed some events I wanted to see but hope to subscribe to the Hay Player later in the year when I have a cash flow that can be spent beyond mortgage, household bills and food.

The events I saw were well worth it and because the programme was open and unlimited I attended talks I wouldn’t have chosen, extending my learning and experience//field. It was a most enjoyable week, a busy one already – but busy right now, is good!

I had some particular favourite events and moments from the week. Some real highlights and gold-dust and I realise how subjective this list is – but here it is anyway, in chronological order because trying to do an actual Top 10 is an impossible feat and those who read on will notice it is a less-than-Top-10-Top-list!  The dates link back to the AWF blog reviews:

MY GOLDEN HAY

Friday 22nd May

Wordsworth 250: A Night in with the Wordsworths

ALL STAR CASTintroduced by Shahidha Bari with readings by Simon ArmitageMargaret AtwoodBenedict CumberbatchMonty DonLisa DwanInua EllamsStephen FryTom HollanderToby JonesHelen McCroryJonathan Pryce and Vanessa Redgrave.

 

 

 

Saturday 23rd May 

Jonathan Bate

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

 

 

 

Sunday 24th May 

Without hestitation…

Inua Ellams

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

and watching this multiple award winning poet win another one – The Hay Poetry Prize – was a very special treat! I love that he had no idea and thousands of people watched his expression of shock and felt his words of gratitude.

The film itself is amazing and another book for the birthday wish list. I am delighted that he was honoured/recognised by Hay, much deserved for this immensely hardworking poet.

 

 

 

Wednesday 27th May

Jackie Morris

PAINTING THE LOST WORDS

 

 

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Thursday 28th May

Claudia Hammond talks to Guto Harri

THE ART OF REST

 

 

I got a chance to try it the next day (which was extremely busy) I had 10 minutes of absolute rest and it powered me through a whole afternoon’s list of To Do.

 

And another absolute gem. The deliverer of gold-dust himself, Roger Robinson. I think if there was a Top 10 there would be a joint winner!

Peter Frankopan and Roger Robinson

THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF LITERATURE ONDAATJE PRIZE

 

 

An additional joy of this event was the feed – people who have never read Roger or heard him talk/read. Reading their reactions was like discovering rain has turned to gold. Such a rich experience. And I knew, having met the man, spoken with him, read him, I was buckled in and ready!

 

Saturday 30th May

Allie Esiri, Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West

SHAKESPEARE FOR EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR

 

 

 

This event, Inua Ellams and Roger Robinson were all re-watched. They just had to be!

 

What an incredible week of Digital Hay 2020 it has been!

 

RELATED LINK:

Hay Festival Blog

The Last Day of Hay – 31st May

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During the last weekend of Hay I was working hard on some deadlines of my own (more on that soon) so apologies for the delay in posting the last day of events (31st May). We also had an incredible mini-heatwave and the rain was already forecast, so the garden was calling too. You all got Hay Player though? £10 for a year, archived material from the mid-90s.

I had to watch the Shakespeare event from last night again because it was so enjoyable, delightful, well presented, theatrical and a such a feast that you need to have a second helping at least. It was a gorgeous event – and certainly made it to my Top 10!

Also there is something magical about Shakespeare in the morning!

Allie Esiri, Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West in SHAKESPEARE FOR EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR.

 

William Shakespeare wrote at least 37 plays, 154 sonnets and a handful of longer poems and you can discover them all here. Each page of this unique collection contains an extract, which might be a famous poem, quote or scene, matched to the date. Allie Esiri’s introductions give her readers a new window into the work, time and life of the greatest writer in the English language.

Shakespeare for Every Day of the Year is perfect for reading or sharing and brings you Shakespeare’s best-known and best-loved classics alongside lesser known extracts. Esiri’s entertaining and insightful thoughts on each entry will fill your year with wonder, laughter, wisdom and wit.

Publisher: Pan Macmillan 
ISBN: 9781509890323 
© Waterstones 2020

This is definitely on the birthday list! Get your copy here.

I also re-watched David Mitchell talks to John Mitchinson, mainly because the sound kept dipping out yesterday and it also clashed with an event I was involved in.

HAY DAY 12 DAVID MITCHELL UTOPIA

It was a fun discussion about the book Utopia Avenue, music and the writing process and I wanted to give it my full attention. 

 

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On Sunday afternoon I watched Hallie Rubenhold and Lisa Taddeo. It was an interesting interview/discussion on the politics of gender.

Hallie Rubenhold and Lisa Taddeo

EIGHT WOMEN

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

A conversation between the authors of two of the most successful non-fiction books of current times.

Rubenhold’s Ballie Gifford Prize-winning The Five is a reclamation of the lives of the women murdered by Jack the Ripper, and is the subject of a recent Hay Festival podcast.

Taddeo’s Three women is a record of unmet needs, unspoken thoughts, disappointments, hopes and unrelenting obsessions.:

All Lina wanted was to be desired. How did she end up in a marriage with two children and a husband who wouldn’t touch her?
All Maggie wanted was to be understood. How did she end up in a relationship with her teacher and then in court, a hated pariah in her small town?
All Sloane wanted was to be admired. How did she end up a sexual object of men, including her husband, who liked to watch her have sex with other men and women?

Chaired by Stephanie Merritt.

 

 

I then caught up with this event, with Diana Beresford-Kroeger. I knew about the importance of trees and how they communicate. This aspect of nature has been in my research radar for a few years and has manifested in poetry for various nature//eco projects.

Diana Beresford-Kroeger

BLACK MOUNTAINS COLLEGE LECTURE 2020

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

The renowned Canadian botanist, biochemist and visionary has underpinned a quiet revolution in the way that we see trees. Her research includes the discovery of mother trees at the heart of a forest; the fact that trees are a living library, have a chemical language and communicate in a quantum world; the major idea that trees heal living creatures through the aerosols they release and that they carry a great wealth of natural antibiotics and other healing substances; and, perhaps most significantly, that planting trees can actively regulate the atmosphere and the oceans, and even stabilize our climate. In this talk she tells the story of how she came to uncover these startling insights of tree function and behaviour and explains why healthy intact forests are essential to the survival of humans on planet earth.

Black Mountains College asks: What is an education for the future? We know that the way we live our lives is broken and BMC  has designed an undergraduate degree dedicated to changing it.  Underpinned by neuroscience, the teaching methods, contextual learning, the collaborative culture and interdisciplinary curriculum will maximise the potential of students to re-engineer our society and systems for the better. Diana Beresford-Kroeger embodies exactly the kind of maverick inter-disciplinary thinking that BMC aims to foster.

Chaired by Owen Sheers and introduced by Ben Rawlence.

 

 

 

And I finished Hay with my ticket live to watch Sandi Toksvig close the festival.

It was everything I thought it would be entertaining, amusing, hard hitting, informative and necessary!

Sandi Toksvig talks to Lennie Goodings

BETWEEN THE STOPS

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

The View of My Life from the Top of the Number 12 Bus: the long-awaited memoir from the star of QI and The Great British Bake Off.


HAY LAST DAY SANDI

Hay Festival The Final Weekend

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Once again I had the joy of catching events in real time. Starting with Hilary Mantel – which was an audio only event. Hay have been great at managing all sorts of event set ups digitally this year. It is wonderful to see people from all over the world too and over 10,000 people watching and that doesn’t include the overflow for these popular weekend events!

It will be released as a podcast next week if you miss the Overstream on You Tube or were unable to view. It was magical to hear her talk about her characters and the tricks of memories. Giving characters worthy opponents.

‘Finding an imaginative truth’ (Peter on using History). Hilary talks about the inventions used in the story, the personal and private life historic figures as well as dealing with multiple and differing accounts.

It was a fascinating and well structured interview. Love Hilary for admitting that she is a ‘paper cook’ (reading the recipes and not cooking them). me too! Although I don’t fancy most of the historical dishes I know of.

“If you knock on those doors your characters are always there waiting for you.”

Hilary Mantel talks to Peter Florence

THE MIRROR AND THE LIGHT

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

The novelist discusses the final volume of her Thomas Cromwell trilogy. Both Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies won the Booker Prize. Spoiler alert – please save this gig for when you’ve finished the book…

You can hear Hilary Mantel discuss Bring Up the Bodies at Hay 2012 on HayPlayer

IT WILL BE RELEASED AS THE HAY FESTIVAL PODCAST ON THURSDAY 4 JUNE

This event will be audio only in a special edition of the Hay Festival Podcast
HAY Day 12 Hilary Mantel
Hilary, like Inua Ellams(Poetry) earlier in the week also picked up the Hay Prize for Prose, unfortunately as this was pre-recorded audio we didn’t get to witness her response, but she did send a message.
I was really looking forward to take a break today with this one, recorded and beamed again to over 10,000 people and Allie was live with us on chat, which was special – like Jackie Morris the other day.
Great idea for Shakespeare every day of the year. Allie was amusing and informative and she was reading from her book, I know a fair bit and still learnt more. This is a read anybody who enjoys Shakespeare will cherish. It is also clever how the calendar days and chosen text reflect significant modern events. I cherished this event.
Dominic West brought Shakespeare alive for us and made it look easy! Helena as Shylock was brilliant – I am so glad that they did it this way, after all in Shakespeare’s day boys had to play the female roles.
And they included sonnets!
I had to miss part of the live event due to overlapping double bookings (even in Lockdown)! But I planned to re-watch it all again anyway. It was a highlight event – superb!
And I now have another book to add to my Birthday wish list!
‘Shakespeare anchors us to our humanity.’

Allie Esiri, Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West

SHAKESPEARE FOR EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

Take a journey through the year with Shakespeare, and join curator Allie Esiri and acclaimed actors for this illuminating celebration of the greatest writer in the English language. The show will include insights into Shakespeare’s work and times alongside dazzling readings of some of his best-loved – and lesser known – scenes, soliloquies and sonnets.

IF THE CROWDCAST REGISTRATION FOR THIS EVENT IS FULL. It was also streamed LIVE on the You Tube channel. 

 

 

I knew I would already be in a different place on the internet when this started but I decided to catch some of it live and then do a catch up watch later – because a new book from David Mitchell is a treat.

 

David Mitchell talks to John Mitchinson

UTOPIA AVENUE – EXCLUSIVE HAY PREVIEW

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

‘The great rock and roll novel – an epic love letter to the greatest music ever made and the book the music has always deserved’ Tony Parsons.

Utopia Avenue might be the most curious British band you’ve never heard of.

Emerging from London’s psychedelic scene in 1967, folksinger Elf Holloway, blues bassist Dean Moss, guitar virtuoso Jasper de Zoet and jazz drummer Griff Griffin together created a unique sound, with lyrics that captured their turbulent times. The band produced only two albums in two years, yet their musical legacy lives on.

This is the story of Utopia Avenue’s brief, blazing journey from Soho clubs and draughty ballrooms to the promised land of America, just when the Summer of Love was receding into something much darker – a multi-faceted tale of dreams, drugs, love, sexuality, madness and grief; of stardom’s wobbly ladder and fame’s Faustian pact; and of the collision between youthful idealism and jaded reality as the Sixties drew to a close.

Above all, this bewitching novel celebrates the power of music to connect across divides, define an era and thrill the soul.

David Mitchell’s novels include Number9Dream, Cloud Atlas, Black Swan Green, The Bone Clocks, Slade House and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. Q&A.

John Mitchinson is the founder of the innovative publisher Unbound.

 

 

 

I have been looking forward to this since I booked tickets but the buffering made it almost impossible to watch in real time. Considering it was a recorded event it didn’t feel like it and I enjoyed the readings and music.

Polly Samson and David Gilmour

A THEATRE FOR DREAMERS

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

A special performance and Q&A with the novelist and guitarist celebrating A Theatre for Dreamers.  1960. The world is dancing on the edge of revolution, and nowhere more so than on the Greek island of Hydra, where a circle of poets, painters and musicians live tangled lives, ruled by the writers Charmian Clift and George Johnston, troubled king and queen of bohemia. Forming within this circle is a triangle: its points the magnetic, destructive writer Axel Jensen, his dazzling wife Marianne Ihlen, and a young Canadian poet named Leonard Cohen.

Into their midst arrives teenage Erica, with little more than a bundle of blank notebooks and her grief for her mother. Settling on the periphery of this circle, she watches, entranced and disquieted, as a paradise unravels.

Burning with the heat and light of Greece, A Theatre for Dreamers is a spellbinding novel about utopian dreams and innocence lost – and the wars waged between men and women on the battlegrounds of genius.

This event is prerecorded, but there will be a  live Q&A afterwards.

 

Hay Festival Today

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There is something incredibly special about catching events live at the Digital Hay and that is exactly what I was able to do (in part) today. I spent ages booking tickets when they were released but you seem to be able to rock up and get in – so do not be put off if you haven’t heard it’s on until now, just go along and see. The tents are huge this year!

This morning I caught the first event on the livestream on You Tube, part of the overflow. The next scheduled event had really wonky connection and I ended up on You Tube again to follow that and I am about to see the master himself, Mr Roger Robinson!

Excited!

The unfortunate technical issues mean that at some point in the next 24 hours I need to find 2 hours to watch these teatime events again. I know that sounds pretty crazy on Lockdown, but my diary is bursting this evening and I have a deadline I am working with too. I WILL find the time to listen to them again because they are in my TOP EVENTS list of 2020. I feel incredibly lucky to have a bit of Roger in my life, I met him at Ledbury Poetry Festival and saw him read earlier on in Lockdown, around the time he won the Royal Society of Literature Prize. He is generous of spirit and inspirational as a documentary poet of our time. I could listen to him talk about his work for hours, so much passion, empathy and love.

 

I caught some of this event on the overflow You Tube channel. The theme of today’s Hay seems to be Death – which is something I can’t face at this time, but this one was obviously meant to be heard by me. Especially as it was full and appeared on the You Tube channel.

David Jarrett talks to Guto Harri

33 MEDITATIONS ON DEATH: NOTES FROM THE WRONG END OF MEDICINE

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

What is a good death? How would you choose to live your last few months? How do we best care for the rising tide of very elderly?

In a series of reflections on death in all its forms: the science of it, the medicine, the tragedy and the comedy. Dr David Jarrett draws on family stories and case histories from his thirty years of treating the old, demented and frail to try to find his own understanding of the end. And he writes about all the conversations that we, our parents, our children, the medical community, our government and society as a whole should be having.

Profound, provocative, strangely funny and astonishingly compelling, it is an impassioned plea that we start talking frankly and openly about death. And it is a call to arms for us to make radical changes to our perspective on ‘the seventh age of man’.

 

HAY THURS

The second event I was looking forward to was worth the wait – although I found the  lagging frustrating (I know I have mentioned it already). I knew some of the research behind this book and it is essential that the world begins to realise the importance of rest. It was a great event and I look forward to listening again soon.

Claudia Hammond talks to Guto Harri

THE ART OF REST

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

The Art of Rest draws on ground-breaking research Claudia Hammond collaborated on – ‘The Rest Test’ – the largest global survey into rest ever undertaken. It was completed by 18,000 people across 135 different countries. Much of value has been written about sleep, but rest is different; it is how we unwind, calm our minds and recharge our bodies. And, as the survey revealed, how much rest you get is directly linked to your sense of well-being.

Claudia Hammond is an award-winning writer and broadcaster and Visiting Professor in the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Sussex. As the presenter of All in the Mind she is BBC Radio 4’s voice of psychology and mental health.

 

Then one of my sought after events. I am delighted to have Roger Robinson back in my life, I met him at Ledbury Poetry Festival years ago. This is the 2nd event that I have managed to catch him at since Lockdown. He is so genuine, generous and giving – his list of poets you should read was huge – and sadly was also just as I lost internet connection, I made it back to watch end Hay credits! The internet/connection and lagging was still an issue, but it didn’t totally spoil it for me.

The Royal Literature Society were also there and among many links and comments they posted this:

winning the RSL Ondaatje Prize Roger Robinson said: “Winning the RSL Ondaatje Prize is great on many levels. Gaining wider recognition for the political issues that are raised in A Portable Paradise is one of the most important things for me, alongside more people reading about the struggles of black communities in Britain which hopefully creates some deeper resonating empathy.” RSL

 

To be honest just like some of my other top events, I would have re-watched it anyway! Certainly no hardship. I could post a lot more but I encourage you to go and WATCH it, see HIM.

If this is not a man/poet you have discovered yet, do your life a favour right now!

 

Peter Frankopan and Roger Robinson

THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF LITERATURE ONDAATJE PRIZE

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

The chair of this year’s jury, Peter Frankopan, interviews the winner of the 2020 Ondaatje prize.

Roger Robinson is a writer and educator who has taught and performed worldwide and is an experienced workshop leader and lecturer on poetry. He was chosen by Decibel as one of 50 writers who have influenced the black-British writing canon. He received commissions from The National Trust, London Open House, BBC, The National Portrait Gallery, V&A, INIVA, MK Gallery and Theatre Royal Stratford East where he also was associate artist. He is an alumni of The Complete Works. His workshops have been part of a shortlist for the Gulbenkian Prize for Museums and Galleries and were also a part of the Webby Award winning Barbican’s Can I Have A Word. He is the winner of the 2019 TS Eliot Prize and his latest collection ‘A Portable Paradise’ was selected as a New Statesman book of the year. He was shortlisted for The OCM Bocas Poetry Prize, The Oxford Brookes Poetry Prize and highly commended by the Forward Poetry Prize 2013. He has toured extensively with the British Council and is a co-founder of both Spoke Lab and the international writing collective Malika’s Kitchen. He is the lead vocalist and lyricist for King Midas Sound and has also recorded solo albums with Jahtari Records.

The shortlist was:

Jay Bernard – Surge (Chatto & Windus)

Tishani Doshi – Small Days and Nights (Bloomsbury Circus)

Robert Macfarlane – Underland (Hamish Hamilton)

Roger Robinson – A Portable Paradise (Peepal Tree Press)

Elif Shafak – 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World (Viking)

Jumoke Verissimo – A Small Silence (Cassava Republic)

 

 

 

 

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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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!

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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

Returning to the Land of the Living

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Alternative Title: Essay on Health!

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Like many adults the values instilled in us as youngsters steer the way we manage life. I was brought up to believe in working hard and only as an adult has my mum passed on the wisdom that all areas of life need or deserve 100%. Work, work has never been one of them and I am proud of my work ethic. Guilt is something I have not managed to shirk off from my informative years, so for me if you are off sick from work, that is that – you stay in bed and get better. However, when your post op body is weakened and you slip two discs in your back, staying in bed is not the thing to do and no one can expect you to put your entire life on hold whilst you recover!

The abridged version (it’s still quite long)!

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I was still on medication in the Spring which dictated what and how much I could do, (I have sciatica and my left leg/foot has been numb since November), I have been in Physio since November and my weeks have been filled with medical appointments, novels, trash TV, pyjamas & general convalescence. I have experienced the depression of long term sickness and the frustration of not being able to do much. I have advanced from not being able to bear any weight on my left leg to walking with a stick and nowadays, often without. I have a lot more mobility in my left foot thanks to Chair Pilates and a mum who encouraged me to do it. The Specialists I have seen all expect 9-12 months recovery time. I have been off work since the operation (which healed in March). I went to get the results of my MRI scan in May, which is when we discovered it was 2 slipped discs prolapsed on top of each other and the Advanced Physio talked to me about going back to work in the Autumn, but encouraged me to start back with Poeting (my term not his) as soon as possible. Mental Wellbeing and good for the soul.

It is with slightly less guilt that I have started to take his advice. I have a lot more spare time now I am down to 2 appointments a week and my brain works again now I am off medication. I am even having to renew my library books nowadays, I was devouring a novel every few days.

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In March I returned to my desk to work through the edits for my next pamphlet (sent when I was in hospital in October). By the beginning of June that was all ready for the next exciting stage of endorsement/cover design. I have managed to forget about the fact that it was scheduled for release earlier this year and accept the delay caused by ill health. I am truly grateful for the understanding and compassion of my publisher, V. Press. It will happen later this year and I will enjoy it more as I will be able to manage better physically!

Back in March, I found I could write again and attempted some poetry events (which I discovered I wasn’t quite ready for). I had to pull out of Festival bookings, performances, Guest Readings at Book Launches, talks and a trip to a Literature Festival in France this Winter and it has been really hard disconnecting from the poetry scene.

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In March I managed to read at Kathy Gee’s Book Launch for ‘checkout’ published by V. Press. I was super nervous as I hadn’t read in public since National Poetry Day (September)! It was a superb night.

I did a workshop, then I got an almighty case of hives and had a weekend where an ambulance was called and I ended up in A&E with breathing difficulties – although the ECG had shown there was no problem with my heart. I’d had a double mammogram a few days earlier and although it felt as if my sternum was inflamed it was more likely pulled chest muscles.

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A week later, I attempted my first event, Dear Listener, featuring the current Birmingham Poet Laureate Richard O’Brien. I went as audience and was not performing, it was hard (physically) and by the 2nd half I was stretched out at the back on a sofa. I tried again at the end of the month at Poetry Bites, this time I did an Open Mic slot, which I managed by leaning up against the radiator (which was on and very hot)! By the interval I was stretched out in the adjoining room on the sofa, where I listened to most of the 2nd half before hobbling back in to watch. After this I decided to call it quits and wait for my body to catch up with my mind.

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Since January 2019 I have attended Stanza meetings, Worcester Film Poetry Collective meetings and a few workshops thanks to friends who were kind enough to give me lifts, (the equivalent of about 12/163 days) although even these can be physically uncomfortable they’re based in people’s homes which tend to have more accommodating furniture than venues.

Fast forward to June with another wave of Festivals, a medical specialist giving me permission to get back into it and the ability to write again, I was keen to get back on the circuit. Plus I’d already committed to several Festival Events (one pre-op). And so far, I am managing… which is a huge relief!

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So welcome back to the blogging, I am reactivated. It is currently Worcestershire LitFest and I am working on a project show for Evesham Festival of Words at the end of June. I may have to miss Stratford Poetry Festival next week and Ledbury at the start of July. But I am doing what I can. One day I will be ready to take bookings again and in the meantime I give myself permission to enjoy a soft re-entry into the world I love and miss so much!

National Poetry Day 2018 ~ Change

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It’s nearly here!

This year I have been invited to perform on National Poetry Day as part of the Autumn Malvern Festival.

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I performed as part of Credo last year at Elmslie House and it is a lovely venue. This year five Poets Laureate, including this year’s Worcestershire Poet Laureate Betti Moretti, will be performing on 4th October. This event was organised by Tim Cranmore.

Autumn In Malvern Festival

The Autumn in Malvern Festival is a renowned series of artistic events & exhibitions held annually in the surroundings of the glorious Malvern Hills. Some of the most prestigious musicians, poets, writers, film makers and other artists perform during Autumn every year.

More information on Autumn Malvern Festival.

This video is from 2009 and includes Peter Smith – Artistic Director & Founder.

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This year’s beautiful design is the work of Chie Hosaka.

https://nationalpoetryday.co.uk/education/free-education-resource-downloads/

This year’s NPD anthology can be bought here. https://www.otterbarrybooks.com/poetr-for-a-change

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Review August 2018

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Well this is the first post this month online but August was packed, PACKED with poetry. I am still catching up on some blog posts from June-July and now will be adding August to the pile.

Here’s the month in snapshot!


Before Perth Poetry Festival I blanked my diary out as much as possible and missed some fine Midlands poetry events.

Week 1: 

I did a lot of research for Perth Poetry Festival and signed up to an anthology which I was lucky enough to be online for when the thread was posted, a project that is so popular it has a reserve list (more on this later).

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The main event this week was a Book Launch in Cheltenham for a charity anthology that I was fortunate to have the shortest poem (apart from short form) I have ever written included in it. The event at Hatherley Manor was dreamy and wonderful and the book raises funds for the cat rescue charity New Start Cat Rescue Centre, Huntley, Gloucestershire.

I will be creating a full blog post soon (and link back here when I am done).

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This anthology ‘All a Cat Can Be’ was the brainchild of Sharon Larkin and I am privileged to be involved. It would make a great Christmas gift for any cat lover.

 

https://www.poetrybooks.co.uk/products/all-a-cat-can-be

“This book is as gloriously varied as the beloved cats it celebrates. Here you will find poems which are witty, thoughtful, moving, and light-footed. ‘All a Cat Can Be’ offers something to please every reader, while helping cats desperate for a good home. And the photographs are irresistible!” – Alison Brackenbury

Edited by Sharon Larkin and Sheila Macintyre.

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I also sent a poem to Lucy Dougan for her Monster Field Workshop.

Week 2 & 3

I started working on INKSPILL – annual online writing retreat right here on AWF. More on this soon. Secured this year’s Guest Writers and started research.

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I worked tirelessly for a fortnight attempting to get the final issue of Contour Poetry Magazine live before flying off to the Southern Hemisphere. I was at this point still waiting for copy, so did what any good editor should do and contacted the poets who had successfully made publication and shelved the remaining editorial until my return.

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COMING SOON!

And then I flew to Perth, WA.

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Where I had an incredible time (lots of posts to follow). It was an amazing festival and I did as much of it as I could!

 

Week 4

Was mainly jet lag and editing… not a workable combination.

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I managed to get myself back into Birmingham – it has been too long – over 12 months I think. I went to the Big White Shed Brum night and it was packed with poetry – wall to wall and heart through heart.

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I am going to write the evening up over the weekend if I have a chance but it was a special night. The fusion of East & West (Midlands). There is a cracking poetry scene in Nottingham and this evening was proof of fine work happening in the region.

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A soft spot for me as I started Spoken Word in the East Midlands in Leicester.

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https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/09/04/cheltenham-big-white-shed-brum/

And I tie August up nicely with a night at Stanza.

I cannot believe the summer holidays are nearly over!

ArtsFest

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This Spring/Summer I have organised the poetry element for this festival. This is my 2nd year working alongside the Droitwich Arts Network team. The events happened in the final week of the month long festival which covers the whole spectrum of the Arts and has an extensive full programme. This year saw the introduction of Dance to the festival. It has been a pleasure to see it grow in success year on year.

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http://droitwichartsfest.org/events/

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This year a couple of Poetry Events also slipped into Week 3. Charley Barnes’ Book Launch for A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache and our Poetry show 30-40-60

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/07/30/a-z-hearted-guide-to-heartache-by-charley-barnes-book-launch/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/the-return-of-30-40-60/

I was a Guest Poet at the Book Launch and organised 30-40-60 along with Kathy Gee and Claire Walker – both events were outside of my remit of festival work.

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Saturday 21st July

Photography © Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network

Arts in View Members of Droitwich Arts Network engaged with the public in Victoria Square. Organised by Peter Hawkins.

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The Prose Readings in the square took place from 10:30- 12:30 Led by Carla Kovac, with writers Sharon Grigg, Jack Walsh, and Venessa Morgan.

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Magic by Charlie close up Stage Magic.

Poetry in the Square 2 – 4 PM

I booked John Mills & Liz Mills to come and perform poetry in St. Andrew’s Square (Town Centre) during the day. We originally had Roy McFarlane booked in too, but then he got called away… to AMERICA!

The three of us kept shoppers entertained for 2 hours. We met a few local poets and talked poetry to a few interested individuals.

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Here are a few extra pictures taken on my phone.

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The evening Poetry Event took place in Victoria Square.

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Poetry Extravaganza is usually an open mic evening, however this year we had an Open Mic in the first half and ATOTC – A Tale of Two Cities UK Reading in the second half.

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ATOTC was my WPL Legacy project between Worcester MA, USA and Worcester UK. 9 Poets from the 24 UK Poets came to perform the work they created with their American partners.

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It was fantastic to hear it all and it worked really well. Bigger plans afoot for ATOTC in 2019, the USA reading happens in September.

Photography © Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network – unless otherwise stated.

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Helen Karakashian – The Chair of Droitwich Arts Network introduced the evening.

The Open Mic was MCed by Charley Barnes.

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Michael Thomas kicked off an enjoyable open mic section.

 

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Terry Baldock

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Io Osborn

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Liz Mills

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Neil Richards

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John Mills

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Maggie Doyle

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Stevie Quick

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Holly Magill

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Then after an interval I MCed the second half – ATOTC.

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After a short introduction about the project Charley Barnes started the UK Readings. We each read our call poems and our partner’s response poems from the USA.

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Charley Barnes with Henry Walters

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Maggie Doyle with Maura MacNeil

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Nina Lewis with Linda Warren

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Derek Littlewood with Rodger Martin

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Io Osborn with Kyle Potvin

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Liz Parkes with Eve Rifkah

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Stevie Quick with Claire Mowbray Golding

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Polly Stretton with Susan Elizabeth Sweeney

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Michael W. Thomas with Gordo Elliot

Then we read around again, this time starting with our partner’s call poems and then our response.

Issue 3 of Contour Poetry Magazine Special ATOTC Edition can be read in full (all 116 pages) here.

It was an amazing, well attended evening and enjoyed by all!