Category Archives: poetry

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.

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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

Hay Festival Today

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I always slightly regretted not studying Classics at A-Level, I already had 3, an AS and an exam retake and as I studied dance and theatre there really wasn’t any spare time back then. It is never too late and the A-Level Theatre Studies did cover Greek Tragedy and therefore I do have a good base with the playwrights. Although I had forgotten how dark and gruesome the plots were! Since starting to write poetry I have researched the Gods and Goddesses often.

I also realised that as a child I read books based on ancient texts, both at school and home, just not a memory that was resting at the front!

I really enjoyed my first event of the day (which was actually the first event of Hay) with Daisy Dunn. It was really informative, easy to follow and captivating to hear. I do not feel that I have been lectured at all, yet I am filled with knowledge. Daisy is someone who can make you feel passionate about this subject, we all left yearning to dig back in.

It was a wonderful journey around the ancient worlds.

‘The Gods as catalysts for drama…’

The Q&A at the end had some great questions and detailed analysis in Daisy’s answers.

HAY DAISY DUNN

Daisy Dunn

OF GODS AND MEN

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

The classicist mines her wonderful collection of stories from Ancient Greece collected in Of Gods and Men, to explore the tales of comedy and tragedy told by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Plautus and Euripides.

Daisy Dunn is a classicist, art historian and cultural critic. She read Classics at Oxford, before winning a scholarship to the Courtauld and completing a doctorate in Classics and History of Art at UCL. She writes and reviews for a number of newspapers and magazines, and is editor of Argo, a Greek culture journal. Her latest books are In the Shadow of Vesuvius: A Life of Pliny, Of Gods and Men: 100 Stories from Ancient Greece and Rome, and Homer: A Ladybird Expert Book.

 

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HAY DAISY DUNN GODS MEN

Daisy Dunn offers a deeply researched collection of stories reflecting the eclectic richness and depth of the classical literary canon.

Striking a balance between the ‘classic classic’ (such as Dryden’s translation of the Aeneid) and the less familiar or expected, Of Gods and Men ranges from the epic poetry of Homer to the histories of Arrian and Diodorus Siculus and the sprawling Theogony of Hesiod; from the tragedies of Aeschylus and Euripides to the biographies of Suetonius and Plutarch and the pen portraits of Theophrastus; and from the comedies of Plautus to the the fictions of Petronius and Apuleius.

Of Gods and Men is embellished by translations from writers as diverse as Queen Elizabeth I (Boethius), Percy Bysshe Shelley (Plato), Walter Pater (Apuleius’s Golden Ass), Lawrence of Arabia (Homer’s Odyssey), Louis MacNeice (Aeschylus’s Agamemnon) and Ted Hughes (Ovid’s Pygmalion), as well as a number of accomplished translations by Daisy herself.

 

I then caught up with an event from yesterday, with Grayson Perry. I have been watching his ‘Art Club’ during lockdown and still one of my favourite poetry day trips was when a group of poetry/stanza friends all went to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery to see the tapestries exhibition ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’.

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©2016 Artfund.org

He is a very inclusive artist and this event was wonderful. He talks about what many writers have discovered – that during lockdown, Art is to do with the making, the creating- the process and the benefits that gives us, as opposed to end products and selling work (although that end of the line is still important). Writers are finding that just carving out some time to do that in itself is a challenge during lockdown, which is strange because our normal writing lives resemble something of lockdown generally, but this is a complicated situation and the same part of our brains which deals with creativity also sorts our emotions – which are all over the place. This is why no creative person should beat themselves up if they are struggling to be creative in the pandemic.

He talked about the work he has made weekly during Art Club. It was a fun interview, could have watched for hours. From Alan Measles to creating a whole house/ environment, including a Ballad – well done, Grayson! A celebration of an ordinary life in an amazing building.

This book is gold-dust for any admirer of Grayson.

Waterstones  HAY GRAYSON 2

He talks about people’s decisions and being fascinated by people’s social signalling and I definitely agree that many Zoom meeting bookshelves will be full of unread tomes, or even fake books (probably) and everyone is obsessed by sitting in front of them.

I use 1 of 2 walls! Neither have been decorated and both are aged and not our taste/decor.

So much more was discussed – but if I tell you everything you may not watch the event. It’s available on Hay Player.

 

Grayson Perry & Jacky Klein

IN CONVERSATION

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

In her major monograph on Grayson Perry, now updated and expanded, writer and art historian Jacky Klein explores the artist’s work through a discussion of his major themes and subjects. Klein’s text is complemented by intimate and perceptive commentaries by Perry on individual pieces, giving unique access to his imaginative world and creative processes. This third edition not only has updates throughout, but also includes two new chapters, on the House for Essex, designed and built in 2015 with Living Architecture (a UK not-for-profit holiday rental company founded by Alain de Botton, which aims to promote, educate and enhance appreciation of modern architecture), and on Identity Politics,  covering new work made since 2013.

Grayson and Jacky talk about his inspirations and processes, work and passions – as well as his most recent projects and his life under lockdown, including his hugely popular new TV series, currently running on Channel 4 on Monday nights.

Clear, generous and insightful… In unravelling the mystique behind Perry, Klein shows why this unlikely artist is, in fact, most likely a national treasure – Financial Times

Lavish… Jacky Klein leads us into the warped world of this crossdressing potter with a keen intellect and a sharp social insight – The Times

 

I then watched Paul Dolan from earlier on today. I have a lot on the to do list today and not much hope at getting to any of the tents on time! Plus there was sunshine and our wifi doesn’t reach the garden. ‘Happy Ever After’ – a book about social narratives was originally going to share the title of this event.s

We should stop judging people – this was one of the greatest lesson I learnt when I was trained in Life Coaching and on the whole it is something I can manage (unless you’re a politician) – so Paul at Hay would have been talking about this – but due to COVID, decided to focus on the Healthy Narrative instead.

Paul Dolan

F**K THE NARRATIVE

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

There are many narratives about how we should live our lives. We should seek success, for example, and we are masters of our own destiny. We use these narratives as sticks to beat others with if they don’t conform. I will consider whether these narratives are good for us and why we care way too much about what others do. Dolan is Professor of Behavioural Science at the LSE and author of Happy Ever After.

HAY PAUL DOLAN

 

This was an interesting event. I knew it would be. A great interview with some in depth answers. Just love listening to a writer talk about their methods and writing discipline.

Chloe Aridjis and Daniel Saldaña París with Sophie Hughes

THE ECCLES PRIZE PLATFORM

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

The British Library and Hay Festival named Chloe Aridjis and Daniel Saldaña París as recipients of the 2020 Eccles Centre & Hay Festival Writer’s Award, a highly prestigious annual prize of £20,000 for a current writing project exploring the Americas. Chloe Aridjis is a London-based Mexican novelist and writer. Her latest novel Sea Monsters was awarded the 2020 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Daniel Saldaña París is a Mexican author, poet, essayist and novelist, considered one of the most important in Mexican contemporary literature. In 2017, he was chosen as one of the authors of Hay Festival’s Bogotá39, a selection of the best Latin American writers under forty. Chloe and Daniel join translator Sophie Hugues to discuss their work and works-in-progress supported by the Eccles Centre & Hay Festival Writer’s Award.

 

 

I saw this event was available to rewatch and so took a punt – in the light of the fact that this future is ours.

Lynda Gratton & Andrew J Scott talk to Guto Harri

THE NEW LONG LIFE: A FRAMEWORK FOR FLOURISHING IN A CHANGING WORLD

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

Smart new technologies. Longer, healthier lives. Human progress has risen to great heights, but at the same time it has prompted anxiety about where we’re heading. Are our jobs under threat? If we live to 100, will we ever really stop working? And how will this change the way we love, manage and learn from others?

Andrew J Scott is Professor of Economics at the London Business School and consulting scholar at Stanford University’s Center on Longevity. Through his multi-award-winning research, writing and teaching, his ideas inform a global understanding of the profound shifts reshaping our world and the actions needed for us to flourish individually and as a society.

Lynda Gratton is Professor of Management Practice at the London Business School where she teaches an elective on the Future of Work and directs an executive program on Human Resource Strategy. Lynda is a fellow of the World Economic Forum, is ranked by Business Thinkers in the top 15 in the world, and was named the best teacher at London Business School in 2015.

 

 

I get frustrated when I read the complaints in the chat box at Hay events, some people have no idea or appreciation of what a feat this is that they have moved the entire Festival online for FREE! A 20 minute programme is unlikely to include Q&A and if the guest is Spanish why should he not use his mother tongue? Did I mention I don’t judge people earlier?

So if YOU can manage to read subtitles and are technically adept enough to use full screen, go and have a listen/read to a philosopher of our time. Special and true.

Fernando Savater

IMAGINE THE WORLD IN THE TIME OF THE CORONAVIRUS: SOLIDARITY AND SCIENCE

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

The renowned Spanish philosopher, an expert on Ethics and a prolific writer, reflects from his Basque Country home about the immediate effects of the covid19 crisis on our psyche, how solidarity is probably the most relevant concept now for human beings, and how we need to trust the scientific method.

HAY FERNADO

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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Stephen Fry

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

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
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(Got to love a stealth-ish book plug) – haven’t even started promoting ^ the new one yet, more to come post-NaPo!

Listening for Pleasure

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This is on in less than 30 mins on Radio 4.

The New Lyrical Ballads

Lyrical Ballads, a collection of poems by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge first published in 1798, changed the course of British poetry. Growing up in the Lake District, Wordsworth set out to use the everyday language he heard around him in his poems in order to make them accessible to a wider audience. Both poets drew inspiration from seeing a return to the original state of nature, in which people led a purer and more innocent existence The word Lyrical linked their poems to ancient rustic bards, while Ballad refers to an oral storytelling tradition. Both poets used rural life and country people as the subject of their poetry which was a marked shift from what had come before.

To mark the 250 anniversary of Wordsworth’s birth, four leading poets Zaffar Kunial, Kim Moore, Helen Mort and Jacob Polley read new lyrical ballads inspired by the ideas in the original collection. Each of the contemporary poets have strong links to Cumbria and the Lake District and their poems give us a glimpse into life in the county now.

Produced by Lorna Newman and Susan Roberts
A BBC North production.

Copyright © 2020 BBC

 

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Go on! Give your ears some food!

NaPoWriMo 2020 It’s Coming!

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It is nearly time for NaPoWriMo, an annual flurry of poetry writing. Find out more here.

They have a few starter activities just for fun. The silly test mentioned in this post gives you a chance to choose Bot or Not. I had a 70% success rate. A great party game for the self isolating at this time.

If, like me you enjoy this writing month you will just be pleased to see the site back up and running and the new banners and buttons for 2020.

The Two Days to Go post invites us to go and look at Patrick Stewart’s twitter account where he is reading Shakespeare’s sonnets, I have happily already discovered this already (and retweeted) but it serves to remind me that one of the things I LOVE about NaPo is discovering resources and new to me poets and poems. Also the participants sites can be a great find too.

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Here on AWF I am always a participating site but never (or rarely ever) post a NaPo poem as this affects the copyright and means I may not be able to publish them. You will write a lot of rubbish over the next few weeks – give yourself that permission, nothing is wasted. It’s all worth it for those few poems that do work, that do go on to grow up and get published, for the ones you include in your next collection, for the ones that speak to your heart.

The day before NaPo starts there is always an Early Bird post to get you warmed up and started. So this is not a drill – take a deep breath and get ready to dive in with us!


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Hello, all! Tomorrow is April 1, and the first day of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo 2020! But since April 1 arrives a bit earlier in some parts of the globe than the east coast of the United States, we have an early-bird resource and prompt for you.

Today’s resource is The Slowdown, a daily poetry podcast hosted by former U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith. Podcasts are a nice way to add some poetry to your life. They also give you a chance to hear the rhythm of poetry out loud. Sometimes it can be very surprising, if you’ve been reading a poet on the page for many years, to hear their voice out loud, and realize it’s much different than the voice you’ve been giving that same poet in your head.

And now, in the spirit of an early-bird prompt, I’d like to invite you to write a poem about your favorite bird. As this collection of snippets from longer poems suggests, birds have been inspiring poets for a very long time indeed!

If you don’t have a favorite bird, or are having trouble picking one, perhaps I might interest you in myfavorite bird, the American Woodcock? These softball-sized guys are exactly the color of the leaves on the floor of a Maine forest, and they turn up each spring to make buzzy peent noises, fly up over meadows in elaborate courtship displays, and to do little rocking dances that YouTube jokesters delight in setting to music.

 

They are also quite odd looking, as every part of their body appears to be totally out of proportion with the rest. For a poetic bonus, they also have many regional nicknames. In Maine, they’re often called “timberdoodles,” but other regionalisms for them include “night partridge,” “mudbat,” “prairie turtle,” Labrador twister,” “bogsucker,” “wafflebird,” “billdad,” and “hokumpoke.”

Tomorrow we’ll be back with another resource, prompt, and our first featured participant.

In the meantime, happy writing!


I started to listen to the Slowdown Podcast and appreciated the slowness of it juxtaposing the violent onslaught of next door’s far-too-loud-radio, I know of Tracy K. Smith, I discovered her before she was a US Laureate and I know some of her work, I know she plays with pace and rhythm and sometimes line breaks used to enable this breath. Looking at the Poetry Foundation page I decided to treat myself to some of her work too and revisited Declaration from Wade in the Water.  Copyright © 2018

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During the podcast, Tracy recites Interesting Times by Mark Jarman. Bedlam right now during the Coronavirus, for sure. The words resonate with double meaning right now. An echo of the//for the global crisis.

Choking on these lines;

Everything’s happening on the cusp of tragedy,

We’ve been at this historical site before, but not in any history we remember.

To know the stars will one day fly apart so far they can’t be seen
Is almost a relief. For the future flies in one direction—toward us.

 

Mark Jarman – “Interesting Times” from Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2011

I then settled down to read the poetry snippets https://poets.org/text/thirteen-ways-looking-poems-about-birds before considering my own writing for today.

This is where the madness began (NaPo madness is normal – it starts with the research/ search engines then pages later leads you someplace else and (hopefully) back again)!

I read the snippets and then watched the videos of Maureen’s chosen bird and it hit me, WA – and the magnificent birds of Perth – as it fits my current project. That’s another NaPo GOLD-DUST tip: if you can bend the prompts to fit creative projects you are trying to fulfil – this isn’t always possible but when it is – it is GOLDEN – as often we are forced to write beyond ourselves.

I then watched a series of videos before I decided on the one. It has been made from photographs rather than footage but the pictures have magically captured the music of the birds. I am yet to pen a poem as I am getting a set ready for this evening. But I will… (the NaPo promise to yourself).

I watched the video and made a list of over 10 Australian birds, then chose one by looking for images of the species. I then searched for facts and went back to my research document to highlighted key fact on appearance and movement. I harvested a few images to study & wrote a short 5 line poem about the Royal Spoonbill.

Enjoy!

 

Flashback – An Exhibition in London

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Last year’s missing bits in Flashback posts.

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By the summer I had secured a project I could work on (even in the state I was in) and I started to think about new writing. It had been a while, my Stanza meeting efforts were old poems saved in files on the laptop. I wanted to write again, the urge came a long while before the possibility – and like any writer I know one of the best ways to guarantee work is to find a deadline and write to it.

So I started looking for opportunities and found a call out for the Asking For It project curated by Chloë Clarke and Gabby Ellison. 

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We are the ‘Asking for it’ exhibition. Our aim is to create a place for people to share and feel and come together over adversity. Through expression of art – in a variety of mediums such as film, photography, poetry, art and sound – the exhibition will take the viewer on a journey from the beginning to recovery and survival.

The exhibition not only looks at the experiences of the survivor but the societal judgements and miseducation around the topic of sexual abuse/violence. We believe that art is a powerful tool to express and empower artists and viewers, while educating those who have not experienced this.

I made a poetry film and submitted some poems. My poetry was accepted.

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Unfortunately I was not able to read at the gallery opening as my physical health made it impossible to travel to London.

Private Gallery Exhibition Opening and Performances 23rd October.

 

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It was a brave and successful exhibition. Here are some more photos from the opening night.

A good project to be part of.

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 3

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We made it to Day 3, congratulations.

TOP TIPS: 

  • Promise yourself a cup of tea/coffee but only when it is done!

 

  • Believe.

 

I looked back today at my round up of NaPoWriMo 2018. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/04/30/napowrimo-2018-a-review-of-a-week-of-poetry-4/

Sometimes it is easy to forget where our writing has come from. I realised by reading the list of poems that a good few are appearing in my next pamphlet. I used them in a Poetry Project last summer and forgot that they actually came from April and a mad month of writing.

There is a lot of comment and speculation about writing this many poems in a month and the calibre of the outcome. You only need to read some of the participating sites to see the standard of poetry which can rise from these daily prompts.

So for now I wouldn’t even worry about what the poem may become or where it may take you…

  • just enjoy the process of writing and have fun!

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For the full post click on Day Three.

There is also an extra link to an interview with longtime participant Vince Gotera, who has published The Coolest Month, a book featuring poems written during past Na/GloPoWriMos.

Day Three

Hello, everyone! We’re now three days into Na/GloPoWriMo. Hopefully, you’re starting to get into the swing of things. 

Our featured participant today is A Reading Writer, where the interrogatory prompt for Day Two gave rise to a very slithery metaphor!

Today’s video resource is this animated version of Erin Mouré’s “Homage to the Mineral of Cabbage.” The English text of the poem is cleverly incorporated into the video, but the narration is in Galician, a language spoken in Northwest Spain. My Spanish is pretty rusty, but for me that adds to the audible mystery and delight of this video – I can almost understand it. For even more multi-lingual flavor, you can also see the video with French-language text here.

 

And now for today’s prompt. Today’s prompt is based in a poem by Larry Levis called “The Two Trees.” It is a poem that seems to meander, full of little digressions, odd bits of information, but fundamentally, it is a poem that takes time. It takes its time getting where it’s going, and the action of the poem itself takes place over months. Today, I’d like to challenge you to similarly write something that involves a story or action that unfolds over an appreciable length of time. Perhaps, as you do, you can focus on imagery, or sound, or emotional content (or all three!)

Happy writing!


 

NaPo Process Notes 

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Today I read up on Vince’s new collection. Vince Gotera is a Professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa where he served as Editor of the North American Review (2000-2016). He is now the Editor of Star*Line, the print journal of the international Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. His collections of poems include DragonflyFighting Kite, and the upcoming Pacific Crossing.
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If you are local to there you may be interested in his Launch, the event is free.
A release reading for The Coolest Month will be held on Tuesday, April 9 at 7:00 p.m. in 1017 Bartlett Hall on the UNI campus. This event is free and open to the public.
I also had a look at his website and read his NaPo poems for 2019.
I then read ‘Evening Snake’ by Rose Gonzales (from NaPo Day 2). I wandered around her beautiful blog for a bit.
I love the fact that this year’s additional resources are video. I am currently part of the Worcester Poetry Film Collective, a course run by Elephant’s Footprint, who were featured as Guests in last year’s INKSPILL Writing Retreat. We are working with stop motion animation this month and I have become obsessed!
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Poetry Film has always interested me and my first dabble came in 2015. Since then I have created several poetry films including a sequence from my 2016 pamphlet ‘Fragile Houses’ (V. Press). I have created about 12 animated films since our last session and have been researching and watching lots online.
I was excited to watch Erin Mouré’s “Homage to the Mineral of Cabbage”.  I thoroughly enjoyed both the poem and the animation. There was I thinking I had a finished one for our next session. I can only aspire.
I then read ‘The Two Trees’ by Larry Levis.

Then I set aside some prompt thinking time for: a story or action that unfolds over an appreciable length of time.


On Writing
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After a long search for ideas (mentally today, no search engine was used in the process of cracking this poem), I sat down to write.
I settled on writing about the 6 months of illness I have just experienced. The start of it. Time passing to 10 days over the course of the poem. But I was only part way through when I realised the metaphor I’d chosen wasn’t fit for purpose, but carried on. I wanted to see where it would take me and how I could write myself out of this. Besides today was a day set aside to work on the manuscript so I had limited time for my NaPo write.
I wrote a poem called Ridge, it has… yes, you guessed it… 7 stanzas. Here’s a snippet.
The air became tight –-
the knoll scarred by new contours, 
recovered alone. 
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No Napping – The Bit Before NaPoWriMo 2019

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Over on the official NaPoWriMo site posts start at the beginning of March to get us ready for the epic task of writing a poem a day throughout April. This year I was not online much during March, my post op recovery has been slow (and painful) and I had a manuscript waiting to be edited that the publishers sent shortly before I was in hospital (October), so when my mind was finally back to being creative and medication was minimised, my first port of call was getting the edits back to the publishers.

Now I am still mainly offline and working through edits and preparing for a Festival in the summer – but apart from NaPoWriMo and LitWorld 2 Journal commitments I am not at the desk much, still recovering and still off work. My body needs a chance to heal and get stronger and that takes time. I have 5 physio activities to repeat several times a day, plus lots of medical appointments. I need to manage energy levels after the past 6 months so I missed the countdown/ lead up to NaPo 2019.

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Here are the pre-NaPo nuggets all in one place.

Have fun!


To read these posts in full head over to the official site http://www.napowrimo.net/

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March 1st 

Hello, poetry lovers!

It’s March 1, and that means that just one month separates us from the beginning of National/Global Poetry Writing Month! 

To get us started, here’s a poetry-related movie scene you might recognize! Take that, stilted approaches to the value of poems!

 

March 15th 

Today is March 15, and that means there’s only half a month to go until the beginning of National/Global Poetry Writing Month!

… while we’re counting down to April, we’ll be giving you occasional bouts of poetry and poetry-related content, as taken from popular films and television!

Today, why not check out this scene from the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral, a romantic comedy starring, alongside Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell , a recitation of W.H. Auden’s “Funeral Blues.”

 

March 25th 

Hello, all! As of today, we have just one week to go until the start of National/Global Poetry Writing Month!

We hope you’re getting your pencils sharpened, your laptops charged, and all your finest glittery pens prepared for a full month of writing verse.

Finally, as we’ll be featuring poetry-related video resources throughout April, we’ll leave you for the time being with this oldie-but-goodie – Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven,” as interpreted by The Simpsons. Fair warning – they may have taken some, er, minor liberties with the text.

 

The 3 Day COUNTDOWN

March 29th 

Hello, all. There’s just three days left in March, and that means that there are only three days to go until NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo 2019.

To help you countdown, we’ll be posting a poetry-related move/tv clip each day until April 1 (at which point our video links will become a bit more “substantive”), and on March 31, we’ll have a special early-bird prompt for those of you for whom April begins a few hours before it does here at Na/GloPoWriMo headquarters.

The poet William Blake was a visionary, a religious mystic, and pretty much all-around weirdo. He also seems to exert a strange pull on scriptwriters, as you will find him being quoted in both Bull Durham (a pretty good movie about minor league baseball)

 

and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (a pretty awful movie about . . . raiding tombs),

 

as well as being paraphrased in the dystopian sci-fi classic Blade Runner.

 

March 30th 

Hello, all! There’s just two days until we start Na/GloPoWriMo 2019, otherwise known as “that month in which you write a poem a day for 30 days.”

Each day during the month, we’ll be bringing you a featured participant, a video resource, and an optional prompt. 

We’ll be back tomorrow with an early-bird prompt and another fun instance of poetry in the movies, but for today, we’ll leave you with this clip from Memphis Belle, a WWII movie in which an airman passes off the work of Y.B. Yeats for his own.

 

March 31st 

Hello, everybody! Na/GloPoWriMo officially begins tomorrow!

We have an early-bird prompt for those of you located in time zones where April 1 starts a few hours earlier than it does on the east coast of the United States, but first, let’s round out our pre-April set of movie/tv clips involving poetry.

Today, we bring you a clip from that classic Bill Murray comedy, Groundhog’s Day, wherein our hapless hero, who is kind of a self-centered jerk, is forced to repeat a day over and over again until he gets it “right.” In this clip, he mocks his love interest’s college study of French poetry. Bill, that’s no way to get a girl! After a few rounds, though, he’s actually reciting French poetry at her – now, that’s more like it.

Early-bird prompt

Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poetic self-portrait. And specifically, we’d like you to write a poem in which you portray yourself in the guise of a historical or mythical figure. Does that sound a bit strange? Well, take a look at this poem by Mary-Kim Arnold, “Self Portrait as Semiramis,” or Tarfia Farzullah’s, “Self-Portrait as Artemis,” and perhaps you’ll get a sense of the possibilities.

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