Category Archives: Readings

National Poetry Day 2020

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Happy National Poetry Day! I hope you find some good words to dive into today.

Here’s a small guide to places you can spend some time in. Enjoy!

The main website for National Poetry Day is worth a good look around, but in case you are snatching a poem on your lunch break or pressed for time, I have selected some options.

36 Poems to read

Articles National Poetry Day

Poetry Recommendations

Poetry Archive

7 poems to listen to.

There are plenty of events happening online, nearly all are ticketed, some are free and there are lots of poetry take overs across social media platforms.

An exciting aspect of this year’s NPD is we are no longer bound by Geography – look beyond your region, spread the poetry love!

© Hay Festival 2020

You could treat yourself and listen to Poet Laureate Simon Armitage reading in Dove Cottage (Wordsworth). This is a ticketed event.

https://wordsworth.org.uk/blog/events/simon-armitage-in-dove-cottage/

5:00 pm – 6:00 pm BST

Tickets £7; £5 to current supporters of the Wordsworth Trust.

Simon Armitage was born in West Yorkshire and is an award-winning poet, playwright and novelist. In 2010 he was awarded the CBE for services to poetry and in 2019 he was appointed Poet Laureate. This year we have invited him to take over Dove Cottage for an exclusive performance of his own poetry, bringing to life the house that Wordsworth lived in 200 years ago.

Simon Armitage Trailer

Or you could just find a quiet spot, take a book off the shelf and indulge in a read, or grab a notebook and pen and have a write.

Between 2013-2018 I offered an annual writing retreat here on AWF. Over the 6 years of INKSPILL we had various guest poets gift us writing prompts, I have included a couple in this selection.

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/10/28/inkspill-2018-picture-prompts/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2018/10/27/inkspill-2018-writing-activity/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2017/10/29/inkspill-guest-poet-stephen-daniels-workshop-exercise/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/inkspill-workshop-with-roy-mcfarlane-objects-to-hang-our-words-

on/https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/inkspill-beautiful-ugly-part-1/

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 Yesterday

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It has been a truly wonderful festival so far. I discovered the Hay Player is available for just £10 for a year and the films they have archived go back as far as 1995, so if you are in a position to invest/buy anything right now you could have all of this Hay material for less than one book costs! Over 8000 talks.

I started with Devi Sridhar, who is a great speaker (academic) and answered the questions well. It made a lot of sense to listen to analysis from a global health specialist who is not afraid to be declarative. She talked with sense about the public health response, global rules and the speed of research. Very informative, straight talk, if only she was a politician!

Devi Sridhar

THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

An exacting analysis of the responses to the covid-19 pandemic from one of the world’s most respected experts. Professor Sridhar is chair of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, and co-author with Chelsea Clinton of Governing Global Health: Who Runs the World and Why? Chaired by Daniel Davis.

HAY Devi

Then as a complete change of pace I went to listen to Hannah Rothschild talk about her new novel. I enjoyed listening to Hannah talking about her characters and wish there had been slightly more coverage of her book. She talked with honesty about her career, male heavy boards and the needs to diversify. Although I had to smile at her dressing down being an M&S suit! How the other half and all that. I found it mildly frustrating that Rosie Boycott interrupted answers throughout the interview.

There was a discussion about COVID/Social Distancing and the problems with theatres/museums. 70% of Theatres may disappear by Christmas unless the government can fund a rescue package. Which I have to say seems highly unlikely.

Regional museums and theatres are in real crisis – our Arts Centre has shut and our Museum of Historic Buildings is under threat also.

Hannah Rothschild talks to Rosie Boycott

FICTIONS: HOUSE OF TRELAWNEY

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

The new novel from the author of The Improbability of Love, winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction, is a mischievous satire of English money and class. The seat of the Trelawney family for over 800 years, Trelawney Castle was once the jewel of the Cornish coast. Each successive Earl spent with abandon, turning the house and grounds into a sprawling, extravagant palimpsest of wings, turrets and follies. But recent generations have been better at spending than making money. Now living in isolated penury, unable to communicate with each other or the rest of the world, the family are running out of options. Three unexpected events will hasten their demise: the sudden appearance of a new relation, an illegitimate, headstrong, beautiful girl; an unscrupulous American hedge fund manager determined to exact revenge; and the crash of 2008. A love story and social satire set in the parallel and seemingly unconnected worlds of the British aristocracy and high finance, House of Trelawney is also the story of lost and found friendships between three women. One of them will die; another will discover her vocation; and the third will find love.

Hay Hannah

 

This was another interesting project to discover. They talked about the collective trauma that Europeans suffered (and recovered from). War, conflict and the importance of what it means to be European.

‘There is unlimited potential to do things differently.’

HAY EUR BOOK

Kapka Kassabova, Caroline Muscat, Zsofia Bán and Sophie Hughes

EUROPA 28

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

We celebrate four of the contributors to the Hay Festival Europa 28 project, part of the Rijeka European Capital of Culture 2020. With so many flare-ups of nationalism and isolationism in recent years, there is a sense that Europe needs to be fixed, or, at the very least, profoundly reconfigured; whether it is to address the grievances of those feeling disenfranchised from it, or to improve social cohesion, or even continue to exist as a democratic transnational entity.

Bringing together 28 acclaimed women writers, artists, scientists and entrepreneurs from across Europe, this powerful and timely anthology looks at an ever-changing Europe from a variety of different perspectives and offers hope and insight into how we might begin to rebuild.

Kassabova is Bulgarian by birth and lives in Scotland. She is the author of Street Without a Name, Border and To The Lake: A Balkan Journey of War and Peace. Muscat is one of Malta’s leading investigative journalists. She contributed to and co-edited the book, Invicta: The Life and Work of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Bán is a Hungarian writer, critic and scholar. Her recent works include the novel, Night School: A Reader for Grownups, and The Summer of Our Discontent. Chaired by Hughes, a leading literary translator and the editor of the Europa 28 anthology.

 

DO NOT miss this one!

Ingrid Persaud and Jessie Burton

FICTIONS: LOVE AFTER LOVE – THE CONFESSION

I thoroughly enjoyed watching this event, the authors sharing their lockdown pleasure – a new dog and a box set. It was good to hear about the books and the readings. It was a wonderful interview.

Jessie Burton talking about Art and how to manage yourself within that was good. She was talking about Connie (her character) at the time. And Ingrid Persaud talking about appreciating the state of non-belonging and existing in space where you’re allowed to be the insider/outsider. Her book crosses three countries, as has her life. This is how my younger self felt as I moved around so often and didn’t feel roots set anywhere other than in the memory of childhood.

There were fascinating answers and discussion from both authors. On love, the burden of love, life, childhood, distance, relationships between characters, on writing, editing and a whole myriad of topics. A very rich event.

Jessie tells us to ‘trust the process’ something I have heard so many times in events in the past 3 months and something I know but I find hard to do. Important for writing well though. I could have listened to this for hours, it was magical! Lennie Goodings excelled in her role as chair/interviewer.

Although I appreciate the emphasis this year on COVID and science it feels like Hay when you watch authors talk about books. Fiction is healing. As Jessie said ‘never underestimate the power of reading and the comfort it can bring, just the act of a private meditation like that is still so valuable.’ And Ingrid has found it comforting to read during lockdown, ‘I can’t leave my own mind without reading.’ I know I could choose not to watch the other events, but I am curious – it’s not always a bad quality.

Ingrid Persaud and Jessie Burton

FICTIONS: LOVE AFTER LOVE – THE CONFESSION

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

A conversation with two extraordinarily gifted and compelling novelists.

Persaud’s Love After Love introduces: Irrepressible Betty Ramdin, her shy son Solo and their marvellous lodger, Mr Chetan, who form an unconventional household, happy in their differences, as they build a home together. Home: the place where your navel string is buried, keeping these three safe from an increasingly dangerous world. Happy and loving they are, until the night when a glass of rum, a heart to heart and a terrible truth explodes the family unit, driving them apart.

In Burton’s The Confession: One winter’s afternoon on Hampstead Heath in 1980, Elise Morceau meets Constance Holden and quickly falls under her spell. Connie is bold and alluring, a successful writer whose novel is being turned into a major Hollywood film. Elise follows Connie to LA, a city of strange dreams and swimming pools and late-night gatherings of glamorous people. But whilst Connie thrives on the heat and electricity of this new world where everyone is reaching for the stars and no one is telling the truth, Elise finds herself floundering. When she overhears a conversation at a party that turns everything on its head, Elise makes an impulsive decision that will change her life forever..

From the million-copy bestselling author of The Miniaturist and The Muse, The Confession is a luminous, powerful and deeply moving novel about secrets and storytelling, motherhood and friendship, and how we lose and find ourselves. 

Chaired by Lennie Goodings, author of A Bite of the Apple: A Life with Books, Writers at Virago.

 

After leaving the magic of this event (which for me is in my top 3 events so far along with An Evening with an Immigrant… Inua Ellams and A Night in with the Wordsworths) but as I had watched the first film on the Europa project I thought I would attend the second one too.

Which was an interesting discussion between the authors on identity, Brexit, lack of solidarity, xenophobia, social economic transformation, can we re-imagine this Europe after the pandemic. Local state trusting being better than national state, a collective fear and new boundary lines, individual responsibilities. Solace with these new online communities. Female leaders. The refugee crisis. They covered a range of ideas.

On talking about the anthology – the growth of mythical stories, stories that are close to our hearts, mean something to us. The pandemic as a moment of potential to create change. Deep participation. Connect together to thrive and grow. New social models are growing, providing the seeds of how we could redesign.

‘There’s no need for a story, life alone is enough.’ – Beckett opens a discussion to the narratives we have been given, the stories we tell ourselves. Who benefits? … The scars of Europe. Challenging the archetypes. Finding new ways to listen. ‘Freedom starts in the republic of the imagination.’

This event is definitely worth watching. Another one NOT TO MISS!

Leïla Slimani, Lisa Dwan, Hilary Cottam and Sophie Hughes

EUROPA 28 – A SENSE OF RENEWAL

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

We celebrate three more contributors to the Hay Festival Europa 28 project, part of the Rijeka European Capital of Culture 2020.

Moroccan-born Slimani won the Prix Goncourt for her novel Lullaby, and is the author of Adèle and Sex and Lies. Dwan is an Irish actor whose Beckett performances have toured the world. She has recently collaborated with Colm Toibín and Margaret Atwood. Cottam is a social activist and the author of Radical Help: How We Can Remake the Relationships Between Us & Revolutionise the Welfare State. They talk to Sophie Hughes.

 

I then watched this event on catch up. It feels like an honour to watch a Nobel Prize winner. Amazing to think that the image of the globe was embargoed, even though they knew before the image appeared that the Earth was round. I enjoyed learning more about the planets. I am fascinated by Cosmology, I have never seen a sunspot close up, or a map of the star neighbourhood! It was amazing. Technical, as you would expect from James Peebles.

James Peebles

COSMOLOGY’S CENTURY

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

A spectacularly illustrated lecture by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist P. J. E. Peebles, tells the story of cosmology from Einstein to today. Modern cosmology began a century ago with Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity and his notion of a homogenous, philosophically satisfying cosmos. Cosmology’s Century is the story of how generations of scientists built on these thoughts and many new measurements to arrive at a well-tested physical theory of the structure and evolution of our expanding universe.

 

And on replay I caught the final event of Tuesday with poet Eric Ngalle Charles.

This was a great finish to a day filled with wonder and inspiration. I would have been exhausted had I been in real life Hay!

A world citizen with so much to teach us Gill said in the comments and that is so true.

Eric Ngalle Charles talks to Peter Florence

I, ERIC NGALLE: ONE MAN’S JOURNEY CROSSING CONTINENTS FROM AFRICA TO EUROPE

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

We celebrate the extraordinary autobiography of the Wales-based playwright and poet. Eric Ngalle thought he was leaving Cameroon for a better life… Instead of arriving in Belgium to study for a degree in economics he ended up in one of the last countries he would have chosen to visit – Russia. Having seen his passport stolen, Eric endured nearly two years battling a hostile environment as an illegal immigrant while struggling with the betrayal that tore his family apart and prompted his exit. This painfully honest and often brutal account of being trapped in a subculture of deceit and crime gives a rare glimpse behind the headlines of a global concern.

HAY Eric

Hay Festival Bank Holiday

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Bank Holiday Monday saw lots of Hay events which I was interested in. This digital version of the festival means I have been able to attend many more events than I would have managed in real life, both on a financial basis and time restrictions. I have enjoyed experiencing Hay for real and there is no way that can be recreated digitally but this year’s festival has taken on a new version of brilliance. I am particularly loving the international reach and those who are physically unable to attend the real festival being part of the events. When you catch the events live, it feels as special as watching the live stage and if you’re busy at the scheduled time you have a whole day to catch up!

The final Trans.MISSION II event was great. It focused on the DRY project in the UK, looking at grasslands and global warming and included a wonderful animation project showing the overarching project. Adaptation and transformation.

Sarah Ayling, Lindsey McEwen and Patrice Lawrence in conversation with Andy Fryers

TRANS.MISSION II: DROUGHTS AND WATER SCARCITY IN THE UK – LAUNCH OF THE TRANS.MISSION II ANIMATION WITH CHRIS HAUGHTON

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

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

The UK strand of the Trans.MISSION of the project features writer Patrice Lawrence and a team of experts led by Dr Sarah Ayling and Professor Lindsey McEwen. Using Dr Ayling’s work as inspiration, Patrice has a piece of creative writing to highlight the issues around UK droughts and water scarcity. Dr Sarah Ayling is a plant physiologist based at the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at UWE, Bristol. She has studied the effects of drought and the root environment on plant growth in the UK, USA and Australia. Prof Lindsey McEwen is Professor of Environmental Management within the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at the UWE, Bristol, and Director of the Centre for Water, Communities and Resilience.  Patrice Lawrence is a British writer and journalist, who has published fiction both for adults and children. Her writing has won awards including the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Older Children and The Bookseller YA Book Prize.

The story that Patrice has created is called “Day Zero and Chips” and will be launched on 25 May.

The overarching strand of the Trans.MISSION II project is a new animation by award-winning illustrator and author Chris Haughton. Chris has taken the three stories, written by Erika Stockholm (Peru), Juan Cardenas (Colombia) and Patrice Lawrence (UK) and responded with an illustrated animation, drawing together the main themes and commonalities that the research in these three countries is revealing.

I have always been interested in life in other parts of the world, cultural/revolutions and stories based in real experiences. This is a harrowing story where millions of families lost loved ones due to action from this time. I enjoyed hearing about Lan Yan’s relatives and a little of their stories too. Yan talks about herself as a witness to the history. Philippe Sands says writing the book is an act of civil courage, I would have to agree.

Courage, resilience and keep hope (lessons her Grandfather passed to them).

In all misfortune events you can always draw some positive energy (what her grandmother taught her).

It is a profound interview.

Lan Yan talks to Philippe Sands

HOUSE OF LAN: A FAMILY AT THE HEART OF A CENTURY IN CHINESE HISTORY

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

The history of the Yan family is inseparable from the history of China over the last century. One of the most influential businesswomen of China today, Lan Yan grew up in the company of the country’s powerful elite, including Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping, and other top leaders. Her grandfather, Yan Baohang, originally a nationalist and close to Chiang Kai-shek and his wife, Soong May-ling, later joined the communists and worked as a secret agent for Zhou Enlai during World War II. Lan’s parents were diplomats, and her father, Yan Mingfu, was Mao’s personal Russian translator.

In spite of their elevated status, the Yan’s family life was turned upside down by the Cultural Revolution. One night in 1967, in front of a terrified ten-year-old Lan, Red Guards burst into the family home and arrested her grandfather. Days later, her father was arrested, accused of spying for the Soviet Union. Her mother, Wu Keliang, was branded a counter-revolutionary and forced to go with her daughter to a re-education camp for more than seven years, where Lan came of age as a high school student.

In recounting her family history, Lan Yan brings to life a century of Chinese history from the last emperor to present day, including the Cultural Revolution which tore her childhood apart. The little girl who was crushed by the Cultural Revolution has become one of the most active businesswomen in her country. In telling her and her family’s story, she serves up an intimate account of the history of contemporary China.

 

The lovely thing about Hay is the diversity of events. I dipped into this lecture next. Our family holidays used to be in Wales every year, so I enjoyed hearing the language again. Mererid Hopwood is so passionate about language, it is easy to feel buoyed by her enthusiasm. ‘Language is the blood of the soul, the vehicle of ideas’before the words comes the music, the babbling, every language has its own tune. 

Mererid Hopwood

THE ANTHEA BELL LECTURE: WHAT’S WALES IN WELSH?

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

What is Language? It’s not just words. That much we know. It’s grammar. It’s context. It’s meaning. It’s communication. It transacts. It conveys. It imagines. It thinks … Is it an external frame or an internal engine? And what is it then to live in a bilingual mind and a multilingual world? Hopwood is the only woman to have won the three main prizes for poetry and prose in the Eisteddfod – Wales’ national cultural festival. She has been Children Laureate for Wales and was awarded the Glyndwr prize for her contribution to literature. Her collection Nes Draw won the poetry section of the Welsh language Book of the Year Awards, 2016. She writes mainly in Welsh and has degrees in Spanish and German language and literature. Mererid has taught throughout her career and is now at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David. Chaired by Guto Harri

HAY MERERID

I wrote a whole post about Libraries – what they mean to me – the new town/city pilgrimage I would take to discover them, the need for books, records, memories and the situation in worn torn countries. I also cherry picked some quotations from the event and then for the past hour the connection has been shaky and WordPress has gremlins in – although they may be mid-upgrade. I lost the text, have since closed the Hay site and do not have time to go and source the material again. If you can, just watch the event.

John Simpson, Bettany Hughes, Paul Boateng, Edmund de Waal

MORE THAN BOOKS: WHAT IT MEANS WHEN LIBRARIES ARE LOST TO CONFLICT

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

As places where human knowledge, thought and experience are held, libraries are often vulnerable during times of conflict. Like places of education, they are frequently targeted in an attack on collective knowledge and freedom of thought, as was the case when IS destroyed the Iraqi University of Mosul’s library in 2015.

Renowned BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson leads historian and broadcaster Bettany Hughes (whose latest book is Venus and Aphrodite), Book Aid International Chair Lord Paul Boateng and the award-winning sculptor and author of The Hare With Amber Eyes and The White Road. in a discussion on what it means when libraries become targets during conflict and how individuals and communities are affected.

 

 

 

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…

Hay W Stephen Fry

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

INKSPILL 2018 Guest Writer Kevin Brooke Extract from Jimmy Cricket

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Our Guest Writer Kevin Brooke has two publications with Black Pear Press, his latest book ‘Max and Luchia The Game Makers’ published by Black Pear Press launched 23rd September.  It is a story about an eleven-year-old dyslexic boy and his sister who travel to a fairy-tale kingdom of dragons, knights, vampires and giants.

Here is Kevin reading an extract from Jimmy Cricket his book for YA published by Black Pear Press in 2014.

A Tale of Two Cities Massachusetts

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I am ridiculously excited by this, one week to go before the American Reading of A Tale of Two Cities Project at the Sprinkler Factory, Massachusetts.

47 poets in Worcester UK and Worcester MA USA were paired up and each partnership wrote call and response poems which were then collated into a Special Edition of the online Poetry Magazine Contour.

In July we had the inaugural UK reading at Park’s Cafe as part of the Artsfest event ‘Poetry Extravaganza’. Both this event and the USA one were planned in June.

ATOTC UK READING

Photography ©Rhys Jones Droitwich Arts Network.

We had 9 poets from the 24 UK poets reading both their own poems and those from their partners. It was a true celebration of the project and it was lovely to hear people talk about their experience of the partnering. One thing we all acknowledge is poems existing which otherwise wouldn’t and the pleasure of working with Poets based in Worcester, MA.

You can read more about Artsfest and our ATOTC reading here.

 

Our American poets were pooled from the Worcester County Poetry Association with support from Bob Gill and Rodger Martin. They will be reading their poems and the response poems from the UK will be read by Brian Evan-Jones.

Brian is a touring artist with both the Maine and New Hampshire Arts Councils and was the former Poet Laureate of Hampshire, England. He currently resides in Kittery, Maine, and received his MFA at the University of New Hampshire where he studied with former U.S. Poet Laureate Charles Simic.


 

The Transatlantic Project was part of my Laureate Legacy. You can read more about it here.

History of the Transatlantic Poetry Project 

A Tale of Two Cities

 

The Beginning

Special Edition Magazine

Flashback May: How to Grow Matches Book Launch

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I have a whole page in my TO DO List book of missing Blog posts from May – July. Over the next month I am attempting to plug the gaps. So look out for more Flashbacks.

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Photo by Aris Ioakimidis on Pexels.com

Saturday, 19 May – Park’s Cafe, Droitwich. How to Grow Matches – A Live Lit Celebration.

Back in the Spring I was asked to be a poetry judge at Sarah Leavesley’s Launch for How to Grow Matches, published by Against the Grain Poetry Press. Following her Launch in London in March at the Poetry Cafe, Sarah had a local launch in May.

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This is Sarah’s 7th poetry book and she made sure that this was a Launch with a difference. She used her Launch as an opportunity to raise money for St. Paul’s Hostel who help people through homelessness. The evening was filled with Poetry and Fiction, as Sarah was also launching her latest novella Always Another Twist.

Launch 19 May 2018 updated version page 1

Sarah’s Guest Poets/Writers were Jenny Hope, Liz Kershaw and Holly Magill, the evening was MCed by Charley Barnes, there was an Open Mic with prizes (hence the poetry judging). The prizes were amazing – bags of poetry books and poetry pictures.

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Sarah launch  The evening started with a translated reading by Sylv Coultier of ‘Matryoshka Portrait’, the opening poem in How to Grow Matches. Followed by Guest readings, open mic poets and readings from Sarah.

It was a lovely evening and thoroughly enjoyed. Appreciation and generosity were the feelings I took away from the evening.

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How to Grow Matches was SHORTLISTED in the poetry category of the INTERNATIONAL RUBERY BOOK AWARDS 2018 and ‘His Secret Daughter’ from How to Grow Matches is Carol Rumens’s Guardian Poem of the Week

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‘What immediately strikes me in Leavesley’s poetry is that sense of being spoken to directly, forcefully. The anger – at impossible advice, at the hidden and neglected work, at mere survival against the odds – is always balanced with craft and an impeccable sense of timing, and a vision which ranges from the orchestra pit to the research laboratory, via geopolitics, extinction and the recurring nested image of the matryoshka doll. An essential pamphlet.’
– Luke Kennard

‘Uncomfortable, powerful, and compelling, these poems demand to be read. And to read them is to ride a discomfiting turbulent current expressed in images of clocks with disparate rhythms, clouds that dissolve into “dark angels of rain”, piles of spent matches that might make a bonfire. And burning is what these poems do: searing through skilfully controlled anger at the invisibility of women, their lack of a powerful role model to follow, they are ready to burst into flame, urging women to “reclaim their share”.’
– Gill McEvoy

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You can buy your own copy here againstthegrainpoetrypress.wordpress.com/shop/

Reviews of HOW TO GROW MATCHES.

Flashback May: ‘Cutting the Green Ribbon’ Book Launch

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I have a whole page in my TO DO List book of missing Blog posts from May – July. Over the next month I am attempting to plug the gaps. So look out for more Flashbacks.

antique aperture blur camera

Photo by Aris Ioakimidis on Pexels.com

Friday 18 May, 6pm in the Studio at The Hive

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Back in May I was fortunate enough to attend Katy Wareham Morris’s Book Launch for her debut collection ‘Cutting the Green Ribbon’. The collection is published by experimental, Bristol-based publisher, Hesterglock.

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Katy is a writer and lecturer in Media and Culture, based in the West Midlands, UK. She has a particular interest in gender and queer studies, identity politics and digital humanities. Her debut pamphlet was a poetry duet entitled, Inheritance published by Mother’s Milk Books and was launched at Ledbury Poetry Festival (2017). It went on to win ‘Best Collaborative Work’ at this year’s Saboteur Awards.

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Her poems have also featured in the webzines I am not a silent poet and Ink, Sweat and Tears. Katy is also the Birmingham, UK Branch Leader of the Women’s Equality Party, of which she was a founding member.

cutting 2Hesterglock specifically asked for feminist poetry in the submission call and Katy gave them that and more. Here is what she says about the ‘Cutting the Green Ribbon’.

This collection is a collage of womxn’s voices, attempting to call time on the ‘female’ identities attributed to women by patriarchal  culture. The poetry is personal, political and provocative.

I am incredibly proud of this collection, which I have been working on for some years now. It is informed by my own love of poetry, which began with the Romantics -Wordsworth, Keats and Blake – when I was a child, to the Modernists, particularly HD, and the Beats, namely Diane di Prima whom I discovered as part of my Undergraduate and Postgraduate degree courses. It also reflects my appreciation of pop culture and the research I have undertaken in gender studies and identity politics. There were many times when I thought this poetry was too controversial or risky to ever be published. I persevered to prove to myself, if no one else, that womxn can fight for an equal place in this society, and that we have many different, equally valuable stories to share. © https://katywarehammorris.com/

Katy was joined by Guest Poets Kathy Gee, Holly Magill & Claire Walker.

WP_20180518_002It was a terrific, uplifting evening and a warmly received launch. There are striking poems in this collection. See for yourselves – order a copy here.