Poetry in Aldeburgh
By Poetry in Aldeburgh
Our weekend festivals of readings, workshops, open mic and more take place during November each year.
These recordings were made during our 2020 and 2021 festivals via zoom. We hope you enjoy them.
Poetry in Aldeburgh Jan 18, 2022
Human Impact on Nature, Landscape and Climate
Human Impact on Nature, Landscape and Climate (E13), Place (3), Sunday 7th November 2021, 12-1 pm
With Sarah Westcott, Steph Morris, Anna Saunders and Dom Bury. This event was hosted by Jan Heritage
This event brings together four poets all exploring in their own way our human relationship with nature, landscape and climate, conscious of our footprint, and the impact of our lives on our environment. Sarah Westcott’s first collection was described by Jacob Polley as 'fierce with intelligence’. Reading from her follow-up, Bloom, the poems approach the cultural and physical spaces where human and non-human lives co-exist or lead to species loss. Steph Morris' pamphlet Please don’t trample us; we are trying to grow! takes us on a temporal and psycho-geographical journey through both the urban and rural and ‘shines a light on small, devastating human cruelties’ but where ‘love persistently comes through’ (Jacqueline Saphra). In her latest book, Feverfew, Anna Saunders, poet and director of the Cheltenham Poetry festival, weaves together personae of myth such as Phaethon, Jupiter, Pan, and Aphrodite with a clear-voiced contemporary disquiet about a planet threatened by human-led climate destruction and passionate, nakedly confessional poems. Dom Bury, former National Poetry Competition winner, reads from his much-awaited debut Rite of Passage, a book that is an initiation into what it means to be alive on the planet in the midst of extinction, and of environmental collapse, and a journey into the shadow of man’s distorted relationship with the earth.
Script, Shape and Image - the Poem and the Page
Script, Shape and Image - the Poem and the Page (E14), Perception (3), Sunday 7th November 2021, 3-4 pm
With Jo Morris Dixon, Shash Trevett, Lisa Kelly, Harry Man and Endre Ruset. This event was hosted by Patricia Debney
How do form and image – what is on the page, and what is not – shape poetry? How can they be used to speak about otherwise difficult things? The three projects explored in this session move between image, script, and shape as ways of reaching their material. Jo Morris Dixon’s debut pamphlet, I told you everything (Verve Press 2021), addresses coming-of-age themes which are often unexplored elsewhere, and Shash Trevett’s pamphlet From a Borrowed Land (Smith Doorstop 2021) is ‘…a troubling and enriching body of work, including both original poems and translations’ (Sasha Dugdale), which ‘… speaks for ‘a people now without a place’ (Vidyan Ravinthiran). In her most recent pamphlet From the Ikea Back Catalogue (New Walk, 2021), Lisa Kelly’s imagination ‘…wander[s] the … endless aisles of Ikea, [and] delves into language…’ (Briony Bax) through erasure and experiment, while Harry Man’s and Endre Ruset’s pamphlet Utøya Thereafter (Hercules Editions, 2021), deals with grief, the response to extreme right wing terrorism, literary translation, and healing, through a series of concrete elegies.
A Dream of Myself – Four Irish Poets Finale
A Dream of Myself – Four Irish Poets Finale (E16), Play (3), Sunday 7th November 2021, 7-8 pm
With poets Seán Hewitt, Róisín Kelly, Aoife Lyall and Victoria Kennefick. Hosted by Ramona Herdman
Can we live with the past, yet not be consumed by it? This event shows how themes of the sacred and the profane materialise in contemporary Irish poetry. With lyrics on sex, grief, loss, as well as hope and new life, Seán Hewitt will read from his book Tongues of Fire Cape 2020). Róisín Kelly’s Mercy (Bloodaxe 2020), attempts to reconcile her Catholic background with her pagan heritage, while Aoife Lyall’s Mother, Nature (Bloodaxe 2021) explores the tragic and tender experiences of pregnancy and early motherhood. Victoria Kennefick’s daring first book, Eat or We Both Starve (Carcanet 2021), forges recognisable set pieces into new shapes, ‘giving us poems that are honest and fearless’ (Rebecca Goss). Unmissable!
Poetry, Popular Culture and Video Games
(E11), Play (2), Saturday 6th November 2021, 7-8 pm
With Maria Sledmere, Calum Rodger, Matthew Haigh and Emma Filtness. This event was hosted by Susannah Hart
How are popular culture and video games vehicles for exploring themes such as grief, loss and transcendence – all within poetic modalities of ‘play’? Can the virtual worlds of video games allow us to escape our grief, inhabit the lives of others, and reconnect with lost loved ones? Four poets carry us between experimental takes on traditional lyric, ecopoetics, post-internet pastoral and more multimedia approaches to gameplay poetics. In these poems, play is material and other-worldly; psychedelic and speculative; rich with multiple registers of irony, sincerity, intimacy and estrangement; an adventure into the sublime via a series of poetic software upgrades and object-poems. Maria Sledmere’s recent publications includes Lunar Erratum, which 'offers no truth except in things - colours, materials, beings and dreams...' (Sophie Collins). Calum Rodger released Occasional Poems 2012-2019, in 2020 with Speculative Books and Matthew Haigh’s debut collection, Death Magazine, was published with Salt in 2019 and was nominated for the Polari First Book Prize. Emma Filtness lectures in Creative Writing at Brunel University London – she works across poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction. Her most recent publication is Poison Garden (Osmosis Press)
n.b click here for the video to accompany Calum Rodger's Rock, Star, North https://youtu.be/qbdMlX5-a3E
Bad Betty Poets
Listen to some of the strange, raw and risk-taking poetry published by Bad Betty in a showcase event hosted by Bad Betty editor Amy Acre. Investigating perception, misconception and understanding, four poets read from collections that probe sexual politics, twist mythological narratives and experiment with disguise and role-play. Kirsten Luckins' epistolary collection Passerine (2021) charts a year in letters to a lost friend. S. Niroshini's debut Darling Girl (2021) explores Sri Lanka's troubled history, and the maelstrom required to reclaim oneself from unlawful ownership. Shareen K Murayama's Housebreak (tbp 2022) explores inherited language, local and global grief. Joel Auterson’s Unremember (2017) combines gaming-inspired experimentalism with compassionate storytelling.
Messing About and Crossing Out
Play (1) : (E6), Messing About and Crossing Out, Friday 5th November 2021, 7-8 PM
With James McDermott, Katie Griffiths, Jon Stone and Chrissy Williams. This event was hosted by Jane Commane.
What is the mind, if not a trickster? And what is the body if not a con-artist? And what is consciousness, if not the in-joke that swallows us whole? Four poets read from new collections which spotlight invention and fantasy, drag and erasure.
Drawing on the language of comedy and clowning in an exploration of identity in the face of loss, Chrissy Williams’s LOW interrogates humour’s role in enacting the possibility of change. With poems that eavesdrop, extract and sift, Jon Stone’s Sandsnarl blends poetry with fantasy-world-building and elements of digital and analogue gameplay. Canadian born Katie Griffiths will read from her first collection The Attitudes with poems that bring “a mercurial inventiveness to the serious concerns at… poetry's core – belief, selfhood and the soul” (Moniza Alvi). Hear James McDermott read from Erased, his ‘iridescent revision of the canon’ – a series of erasures on found homophobic newspaper articles, speeches, legislations, and biblical passages revealing queer subtexts and reclaiming works that tried to erase gay lives.
Following in the footsteps of John Clare
Afternoon Talk (2) : Following in the footsteps of John Clare (E10), Saturday 6th November 2021, 5-6 PM
With Robert Selby, Pam Thompson and Robert Hamberger. This event was hosted by Kathy Pimlott.
The event opens with a reading by Robert Selby of his recent debut collection of Suffolk-inspired poems. This is followed by exploration of Robert Hamberger’s re-tracing of John Clare's 1841 walk home from Epping Forest to Werrington, near Peterborough. In interview with the Leicester-based poet, Pam Thompson, Hamberger discusses the research and writing of the book and reads from his memoir of that walk: A Length of Road: Finding myself in the footsteps of John Clare. He reads extracts from the prose account of his walk (undertaken in 1995, six weeks after he separated from his wife) and extracts from Clare's journal to highlight differences and similarities between the two walks. He and Pam Thompson read poems in the voices of Clare and those he met on his walk, and examine the issue of genre-fluid writing using Clare's 1830s sonnet Trespass as a way into examining the continuing dilemmas for working class writers.
Seren at 40 Anniversary Celebration
Seren at 40 Anniversary Celebration
Afternoon Talk and Reading (1) : Seren at 40 Anniversary Celebration (E5), Friday 5th November 2021, 5-6 PM
With Kim Moore, Carolyn Jess-Cooke, Dai George and Abeer Ameer. This event was hosted by Amy Wack.
Join us to revel in Seren’s 40th anniversary! Seren poets have previously won the Costa and Forward First Collection awards among many others. This special event brings together four vibrant poets published in Seren’s 40th year: Kim Moore’s much awaited second collection is a numbered sequence of 48 poems with the same title: All The Men I Never Married. Carolyn Jess-Cooke’s new poetry collection We Need to Leave the Earth is both keenly political and deeply personal. In Dai George's Karaoke King there is a feeling of history shifting, as a younger generation confronts its ethical obligations, its sense of complicity and disappointment. Abeer Ameer is a rising poet of Iraqi heritage who lives in Cardiff – her debut collection Inhale/Exile celebrates the resilience of her extended family in Baghdad and around the world. The poets are introduced by Seren's long-standing Poetry Editor, Amy Wack, who talks about, and takes questions on, Seren's evolution over the years.
Guillemot Press Poets on Poetry and Collaboration
Guillemot Press Poets on Poetry and Collaboration (E7), Friday 5th November 2021, 9 - 10pm
With Katrina Porteous, Phoebe Power, Petero Kalulé and Clarissa Álvarez. Hosted by Paul Stephenson
What synergies can be created when poets work with others, particularly across disciplines? Join four poets from Guillemot Press, who in 2021 celebrated writing and working together to produce two stand out titles. Sea Change, by Phoebe Power, winner of the 2018 Forward Prize for Best First Collection, and Katrina Porteous, whose work was recognised in the 2021 Cholmondeley Awards, explores Durham's 'radical coast' and the recent changes to this economically deprived former coal-mining region notorious for its black beaches. Marsh-River-Raft-Feather, by Petero Kalulé, whose debut collection Kalimba (Guillemot 2019) garnered international acclaim, collaborates here with Clarissa Álvarez in a bold innovative approach to writing about environments. The four poets in collaboration will read from their works and talk around the writing of these two pamphlets.
* Unfortunately, due to some interference on the Zoom recording of this event, we have lost the music preceding Rivers during Petero Kalulé's performance. We do apologise.
Poetry on Mental Health
Perception (1) : Poetry on Mental Health (E4), Friday 5th November 2021, 3 - 4 pm
With Briony Bax, Louisa Campbell, Rachel Lewis and Andrew McMillan. This event was hosted by Paul Stephenson
How do we express where we are, what this feels like, and whether we will get through it? What do we observe in others and their struggles? And what about love, family, and relationships? For this event we are delighted to feature Andrew McMillan, reading from his much-anticipated collection, Pandemonium, already hailed as [an] ‘exceptional vigil of a book’ (Kate Kellaway, The Observer). Joining him is Briony Bax, reading from Lament – 'a journey through a brutal world of mental illness' – Louisa Campbell – whose debut collection about mental illness, psychiatry, and recovery, Beautiful Nowhere, has met with rave reviews – and Rachel Lewis, whose pamphlet, Three Degrees of Separation, won the 2019 Wordsmith Pamphlet Prize.
*Content Warning: mention of and probable discussion of mental illness and trauma
Fenland Poetry Journal Showcase with Wendy Cope
Place (1) : Fenland Poetry Journal Showcase with Wendy Cope (E3), Friday 5th November 2021, 12-1 PM
With Jonathan Totman, Agnieszka Studzińska, Dominic O’Sullivan, Alexandra Corrin-Tachibana, Anna Maria Mickiewicz, Chris Emery, and with special guest Wendy Cope. This event was hosted by Elisabeth Sennitt Clough.
The Fenland Poetry Journal is a bi-annual poetry magazine founded in Fenland, which recently published its 5th issue. Editor Elisabeth Sennitt Clough’s objective in creating a new poetry and art magazine was to connect the local with the international. Each issue showcases a range of poets: local, national, international, emerging and established. Prior to starting the FPJ, Elisabeth co-edited The Fenland Reed for two years, a magazine founded by Jonathan Totman and Mary Livingstone.
Poetry London Celebrates 100 issues
After Dinner Event (1) : Poetry London Celebrates 100 issues (E2), Thursday 4th November 2021, 9 - 10pm
With Rachel Long, Vidyan Ravinthiran, Momtaza Mehri, Jemilea Wisdom-Baako and Janine Bradbury. This event is hosted by André Naffis-Sahely
Celebrate the 100th edition of Poetry London, with editor André Naffis-Sahely, and recently featured poets Rachel Long, Vidyan Ravinthiran and Momtaza Mehri alongside Poetry London mentees, Jemilea Wisdom-Baako and Janine Bradbury. From modest beginnings in 1988, when it was a listings newsletter, Poetry London has developed into one of the UK’s leading poetry magazines. Do not be misled by its name: Poetry London has the same relation to London as The New Yorker has to New York. In other words it is a national and international journal, and as such it spreads its net wide to include the latest work from around the world, much of it in translation.
Festival Launch (E1), Thursday 4th November 2021, 7 - 8pm
With Sarah Doyle, Vanessa Lampert, Samatar Elmi and Stephen Payne. Hosted by Paul Stephenson and Patricia Debney
Revisiting our festival themes of Place, Perception and Play, the launch event kicks off 3 full days of poetry with four poets from four incredible independent presses. Three poets launch their debut pamphlets. For ‘Place’, the Pre-Raphaelite Society’s Poet-in-Residence Sarah Doyle reads from her pamphlet of collage poems – Something so wild and new in this feeling (V. Press) – inspired by Dorothy Wordsworth’s journals from The Lake District. For ‘Perception’, ‘in her debut pamphlet, On Long Loan (Live Canon), Vanessa Lampert brings ‘the lightest touch to the weightiest matters, sees sharply near and poignantly far, and, to coin a contradiction, illuminates with shadow’ (Glyn Maxwell). For ‘Play’, Samatar Elmi’s debut pamphlet was the Poetry Book Society’s summer choice in 2021. Portrait of Colossus (HappenStance) navigates parenting, masculinity, racism and ambiguities of identity, and does so with skill and sly humour. Stephen Payne’s second full collection, Windmill Proof (HappenStance) contains playful, perceptive and place poems, where poems are games and provocations, and where ‘even a geometrical shape can slip seamlessly into matters of the heart’. We also introduce our visual artist in residence, Arjuna Gunarathne, who successfully marries the Eastern and Western traditions to present unique works focussing on political, social and personal experience.
Contemporary Ethiopian Poetry – The Poetics of Truth
Place (2) : Contemporary Ethiopian Poetry – The Poetics of Truth (E8), Saturday 6th November 2021, 12 - 1pm. Hosted by Chris Beckett
Readings by Chris Beckett (Host, London), Mihret Kebede (Vienna), Misrak Terefe (Addis Ababa), Kebedech Tekleab (New York), Bedilu Wakjira (Addis Ababa). This event brings together Ethiopian poets reading live from London, Vienna, New York and Addis Ababa. All appeared in the recent Carcanet anthology of Ethiopian poetry in English, packed with all the energy, wit, and heartache of a beautiful country and language. From folk and religious poems, warrior boasts, praises of women and kings and modern plumbing; through a flowering of literary poets in the twentieth century; right up to thirty of the most exciting contemporary Amharic poets working both inside and outside the country. This event considers the pursuit of truth, which is at the heart of Ethiopian poetry today – an African state which was never colonised, but continues to tackle political, ethnic, and moral issues.
Rory Waterman talks to Wendy Cope
Afternoon Talk (3) : Rory Waterman talks to Wendy Cope (E15), Sunday 7th November 2021, 5 - 6pm. Hosted by Susannah Hart
To celebrate a unique new study of the poet and her work, the academic, critic and poet Rory Waterman talks to Wendy Cope about her writing life and poetry career. Wendy Cope is one of Britain’s most popular poets: her first two collections have together sold almost half a million copies, and in 1998, when Ted Hughes died, she was the BBC listeners’ choice to succeed him as Poet Laureate. She is also contrarian and sometimes controversial, and has been celebrated as one of the finest parodists of her, or any, generation. Rory Waterman is recent author of Wendy Cope (LUP, 2021) and is Associate Professor at NTU. His most recent poetry collection, Sweet Nothings (2020) is published by Carcanet.
On Poetry and Trauma
Perception (2) : On Poetry and Trauma (E9), Saturday 6th November 2021, 3-4 PM
With Chaucer Cameron, Day Mattar, Tessa Foley and Alice Hiller. Hosted by Patricia Debney
So many experiences of sexual abuse and trauma are silenced. How do we find the voices to speak about what is hidden, or secret? How does poetry emerge, and what does it sound like? Where do we go from here? Alice Hiller’s debut collection, Bird of Winter, tackles being groomed and sexually abused in childhood. Acclaimed by Sasha Dugdale as ‘…the excavation of a city of grief from beneath the ashes of memory,’ it is shortlisted for the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection 2021. Chaucer Cameron’s pamphlet In an Ideal World I’d Not be Murdered, performs the voices of a group of women working as prostitutes: ‘Listen for the songs emerging from the dark centre of this transformative work of experience and survival,’ writes Jacqueline Saphra. Day Mattar’s debut pamphlet Springing from the Pews …explor[es] the experience of sexual abuse, marr[ying] form and content to stunning effect.’ (Alicia Stubbersfield). Tessa Foley’s new collection What Sort of a Bird are You?, exploring childhood and feminism, goes '...way beyond standard feminist poetry...[it is] a mirror of the dilemmas and struggles that young women face...' (Irena Hill).
*Content Warning: mention of sexual abuse, sexual assault, grooming, eating disorders.
Between Places : Britain and Europe
Place (2) : Between Places: Britain and Europe (E6), Saturday 14th November 2020, 12-1 PM
With Sharon Black, Alex Josephy, Fokkina McDonnell and Christopher North
This event, hosted by Paul Stephenson, brings together four poets that split their time between the UK and France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. The readings consider the impact of Brexit on their lives and, indeed, on their writing. Sharon Black lives in a remote valley of the Cévennes mountains of southern France. Editor of Pindrop Press, she ‘doesn’t just write about the world - a rock, a flock of starlings, an affair - but into it, inhabiting each subject with sensual passion and immense lyrical grace: a true indwelling’ (Adam Thorpe’). Christopher North moved to Spain to facilitate writing retreats and courses at Almassera Vella near Alicante. His latest pamphlet The Topiary of Passchendaele was a winner in the Poetry Business competition 2018. Alex Josephy lives half the year in Italy, and this is explored in her descriptions of the natural world, in the musical Italian vocabulary and portraits of village life in her collection Naked Since Faversham. Fokkina McDonnell is an Anglo-Dutch poet who has spent the last 35 years in Manchester and whose poems are ‘confidently written, with economy and precision, moving, witty’ (Carole Bromley).
Nature and Nurture presented by the Poetry Society
Play (3): Nature and Nurture presented by the Poetry Society (E13), Sunday 15th November 2020, 5-6 PM
Our host for this event is Ben Rogers
Hear poems from last year’s National Poetry Competition. Charlotte Knight reads her commended poem ‘MOONDADDY’ and work from her exquisitely wrought Shut Up in a Cave, a collection concerned with grief, pregnancy, goats and the moon. And how would novelist Joe Dunthorne’s mutinous humour translate into poetry? The answer is: ‘brilliantly... There’s nothing his imagination cannot transform’ (The Observer). Hear him read from his collection O Positive and his commended poem ‘Due to a series of ill judgements on my part’. Like Joe, also a former Faber New Poet, Elaine Beckett, longlisted last year, takes us to the brink and back with her forthcoming first collection, described as a captivating fusion of poems, by turns witty, satirical, and melancholic. Ian Humphreys, whose first collection is Zebra, is described as having ‘an enviable gift of finding final lines of poems, many of which are seared on the surface of my memory’ (Mona Arshi). He reads his longlisted poem and new work, including the canal commission, inspired by local landscapes and exploring how my perception of these nearby places has changed as a result of recent travel restrictions. Hosted by Ben Rogers of the Poetry Society.
Performance in the Pub at the virtual 'Cross Keys'
After Dinner Event (2): Performance in the Pub at the virtual 'Cross Keys' (E10), Saturday 13th November 2020, 9-10 PM
Our host for this event is Jill Abram
A delicious tone of eavesdropping binds these three readings as we are called to contemplate the binds that tie us to one another. Fact, fiction and fantasy share an equal playing field through poems of dream lovers, friends and inner-city neighbours. In These Queer Merboys, Serge ♆ Neptune invites the reader into his mythical dreamscape of mermen, a world charged with powerful eroticism where desire is fraught with danger. Ali Lewis’s Hotel tackles the complexities of modern relationships and city living, communicating that ‘we exist in rooms of similar layouts and puts a glass to the walls between so we might overhear’ (Poetry Book Society). Arji Manuelpillai’s Mutton Rolls addresses subjects of Sri-Lankan British identity, masculinity, friendship, grief and love with a tone that embraces a tender satire. Jill Abram presents these readings: her own often mischievous poems describe the semi-fictitious lives of family and friends with sass and poignancy.
n.b The Open Mic that followed 'Performance in the Pub' has not been recorded.
A Scottish Fantasy
Reading on Play (3): 'A Scottish Fantasy' (E14), Sunday 15th November 2020, 3-4pm
Our host for this event is Sharon Black
Through a plethora of visions, superstitions and personas, Sunday evening’s event muses what it is to be human in past, present and future. Reimagine Norse sagas with Miriam Nash’s forthcoming The Nine Mothers of Heimdallr, which imagines the vast and mythic Northern landscape in a giant, matriarchal re-telling of the creation myth. Delve into Andy Jackson’s new collection The Saints are Coming, inspired by the lives of genuine patron saints of strange things – spies, comedians, haemorrhoid sufferers, disappointing children, the verbally abused. Myth and superstition take a disquieting turn in a reading from Rob A. Mackenzie’s The Book of Revelation, which serves as a lonely planet guide to this outrageous place in time with apocalyptic nightmare vision that encompasses the rags of Empire and political turpitude in a grimly comic phantasmagoria of twenty-first century turmoil (that finds consolations in artistic resistance, and guinea pigs). Gallows humour is also rife throughout Louise Peterkin’s The Night Jar, lifting the lid on a fizzing range of personas, dramas and states of mind – presenting them for our delight - at once lively, unexpected and exhilarating, the collection brings to engagingly to mind Blake’s assertion: ‘energy is eternal delight’(Gerry Cambridge). Join us for our festival finale!
Objects and Enquiry
Reading on Perception (3): 'Objects and Enquiry' (E12), Sunday 15th November 2020, 3-4pm
Our host for this event is Paul Stephenson
Objects and Enquiry
Objects can have a powerful hold over us. An old rug can be just an everyday object or it can hold a world of memories in its threadbare patterns. We all look at, and understand them, in different ways – finding memories, secrets, fears and surprises. Olivia Dawson’s poems relate to how we perceive objects to which we are sentimentally attached. ‘Unfolded’ is a poetry pamphlet whose theme evolved through the discovery of a box of antique hand fans belonging to her father. The poems play with the fabulous words relating to fans and also explore how we reveal, or hide ourselves, with what we put on display. Richard Skinner’s fourth collection Invisible Sun sets out to release ‘the potential of inanimate objects’. A marbled egg, white balloons, unopened boxes, a Greek island, numbers, a yellow yo-yo—nothing in this book is quite what it seems. Julia Bird and Mike Sims sent each other mystery objects in the post and then wrote a lot of unexpected poems which became Paper Trail. “To open Paper Trail is to embark on a joyous journey through the debris of many decades. No artefact is too surreal or too small to be overlooked on this adventure – fragments of a meteor, an Aeroflot wet wipe, an artist’s business card, an empty case box that once held a mixtape […] The result is an exuberant tangle of words and images that celebrates the way we live now surrounded by ephemera, eavesdropping and aesthetic echoes” (Nancy Campbell).
North, South, East, West
Reading on Place (1): 'North, South, East, West' (E1), Friday 13th November 2020, 12-1pm
This episode is hosted by Susannah Hart
We began the first of our three-day festival by bringing together poets from the four corners of the UK, from Aberdeenshire to Cornwall and from Merseyside to Norfolk. Martin Malone’s new selected Larksong Static takes a synoptic view of the last 15 years of writing. He is described by Carol Ann Duffy as offering ‘an excavation of time and place, landscape and language, every word alert to the elements without and their emotions within. Sue Burge’s The Saltwater Diaries is ‘a beautiful evocation of all that is special about the coast, perfectly capturing the taste of salt on the wind and the life that is often undiscovered beneath rocks, along beaches and dancing in the air’ (Mark Davidson). Wild Persistence is Katrina Naomi’s first collection since relocating from London to Penzance, described by Liz Berry as ‘a collection to win readers and then pull the ground from beneath them’. Maria Isakova Bennett’s recent work ‘begins with the contemplation and perception of place and the depiction of place in art’. …an ache in each welcoming kiss is a sequence of 22 poems communicating to and with paintings in Merseyside art galleries and extending the boundaries of ekphrasis. All in all, a veritable poetic tour from coast to coast to coast to coast!
Languages and Place
Afternoon Talk (2): 'Languages and Place' (E8), Saturday 14th November 2020, 12-1pm
Our host for this event is Jane Commane from Nine Arches Press
We understand the world around us and the places we are in through the languages we use to describe them. Languages bring us together and set up apart. When there is conflict and confrontation, I take hope from how we can (word)play and interleave our tongues’ (L. Kiew). This afternoon event brings together poets who explore place through the way in which they use foreign language in their poems, conjuring Hong Kong and Benghal, Malaysia and Sudan. The poets explore the types of vocabulary they have used and the decisions they make as writers as to how much the reader needs to know. Jennifer Wong’s latest collection, Letters Home explores the complexities of history, migration and translation. Jessica Mookherjee’s second collection Tigress mixes myth, magic and migration, exploring the often fraught nature of childhood and family, selfhood and womanhood. Sue Wallace Shaddad’s A City Waking Up, explores Khartoum, Sudan through family visits over forty years with poems inspired by the colours, heat, food, people, customs and Arabic language. L. Kiew’s poems in The Unquiet are woven with words from Malay. Her writing ‘is simultaneously compressed and bristling with detail, in poems alive to the slips and possibilities inherent in the transcultural experience’ (Hannah Lowe).
All Saints Sessions present: Ultra Sound
After Dinner Event: 'All Saints Sessions present: Ultra Sound' (E5), Friday 13th November 2020, 9-10 pm
Cheryl Moskowitz and Alastair Gavin’s fusion of poetry and sound with special guests poet Isabelle Baafi, and musicians Malcom Ball and Ian Burdge.
Find your headphones and immerse yourself in a magnificent fusion of sound and poetry. Cheryl Moskowitz and Alastair Gavin have devised an innovative performance especially for Poetry in Aldeburgh 2020! With guest musicians Ian Burdge and Malcolm Ball, alongside poet Isabelle Baafi. All Saints Sessions is innovative poetry and electronics performance series running since 2017, which features a changing line-up, with a guest poet and musician collaborating to create a special one-off performance. Words, melody and sound textures converge and synergise to form something new and uniquely immersive and memorable. Cheryl Moskowitz is US born poet, novelist and playwright and formerly, actor and psychotherapist. Her pamphlet Maternal Impressions if forthcoming in Spring 2021. Alastair Gavin is a keyboardist, arranger, composer for artists ranging from Mari Wilson to the Michael Nyman Band, and was assistant musical director on Mamma Mia! Isabelle Baafi is on was shortlisted for the 2019 Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition and her debut pamphlet, Ripe, is published this autumn. She is a board member of Magma. Malcolm Ball studied piano and later electronic music and composition at the Royal College of Music London. He has played at venues such as South Bank, Royal Albert Hall, 100 Club and Ronnie Scott’s Club. He is one few exponents in the UK of the Ondes Martenot, an early electronic instrument developed in France. Ian Burdge is a session cello and electric cello player. He co-founded The Millennia Ensemble, recording for artists including Travis, David Gray, Paul McCartney and Luciano Pavarotti.
The World Around Us
Reading on Perception (2): 'The World Around Us' (E6), Saturday 14th November 2020, 3-4pm
Our host for this event is Patricia Debney
In perceiving the world around us, how do we reconcile what we see and encounter with our understanding, our feelings and our beliefs? Rebecca Watts’ poems describe ‘a world of contingency, both fragile and beguiling’ ‘Formally elegant and precise, Watts's lyrical voice is vividly lit, and richly evocative. Red Gloves is a deeply moving collection, profound and insightful: a true tonic for these superficial, facile times’ (Neil Rollinson). Mina Gorji’s Art of Escape is understated and has a beautiful clarity of form…a wonderful debut from a poet whose craft is delicate and complex, and who feels instinctively the manifold connectedness of life.’ (Séan Hewitt). Whether poems on the lives of insects and plants, oron the emigrant's journey from Iran to England, the poet brings them into intense focus. Andre Mangeot’s Blood Rain is a telling meditation on what we’re doing to the planet and ourselves. Lyrical and allusive, ranging from the personal to the global, the sequence explores environmental degradation and climate change, serving as a compendium of our current crisis. Claire Crowther’s collection Solar Cruise (Shearsman) deals with science through a passionate personal lens inspired by her husband’s, Professor Keith Barnham, research devoted to the development of solar power. ‘These poems perpetually test the ability of science-language to infiltrate the lyric…Crowther’s poem are fizzily cerebral, wordplay-avid, both sensuous and ratiocinative. (Vidyan Ravinthiran, PBS Bulletin)
Image credit: Henny Beaumont, Festival Artist in residence 2020
Place and Memory
Reading on Place (3): 'Place and Memory' (E11), Sunday 15th November 2020, 12-1pm
Our host for this event is Patricia Debney
How much of a place do we carry with us into the future? And how does the memory of place ripple down across generations? In her mid-20s, Heidi Williamson was part of a Scottish community that suffered an inconceivable tragedy – the Dunblane Primary School shooting. Those years living in the town form the focus of Return by Minor Road. Through rivers, rain, wildlife and landscape, she revisits where ‘the occasional endures’. Psychotherapist Alan Buckley’s Touched is a debut collection that understands the value of subtlety and restraint, exploring personal trauma and the “fragile, desperate weight” of our lives through poems that speak elegantly of hard-won insight’ (Ben Wilkinson, The Guardian). “The sea, the sea, always recommencing” wrote the great French poet Paul Valéry. Jennifer Edgecombe’s debut pamphlet The Grief of The Sea is an exploration of loss and its relationship with the ocean, the two eternally bound together. These poems showcase her exceptional ability to evoke taste, touch, sound, and most of all, depth of feeling. Lucia Dove has been working on a project that explores the relationship between Essex and the Netherlands through their geographical landscape and shared cultural memory of the North Sea flood of 1953 which devastated both places on the same night. Her debut pamphlet Say cucumber leads you into a world that slips between the familiar and unfamiliar.
The Human Comedy
Reading on Play (2): 'The Human Comedy' (E9), Saturday 14th November 2020, 7-8pm
Our host for this event is Dr Helen Eastman, Founder and director of Live Canon
Embracing the surreal, the bewildering and nonsensical, four poets jostle and jest with modern life, poking fun at power structures, taking us on ‘text adventure games’, and seducing us with bewildering snapshots, including a pair of scissors that can cut anything. Anything. Katherine Stansfield has made a name for herself both as a wryly witty poet of the everyday seen ‘aslant’ and as a popular novelist of crime and fantasy. Her second poetry collection, We Could Be Anywhere by Now, is pointedly full of poems about placement and displacement - after a childhood on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, she moved to mid Wales. In The Story of No Emma Hammond delivers an experimental lyric that is wild, weird and full of the errata of modern life. Her poems reappropriate the language of brands, pornography and instant messaging, and argue for Carry On films and Wotsits as the true subjects of poetry. Lorraine Mariner has established herself as an idiosyncratic poet, with novel takes on contemporary life and personal relationships, as in her latest collection There Will Be No More Nonsense. ‘Droll, melancholic, locating the surreal in the ordinary, her plain-style speak and lack of pyrotechnics are no barrier to producing engaging and emotionally complex poems’ (Kathryn Gray, Poetry Review). Luke Samuel Yates’ The Flemish Primitives was a winner in the 2014/15 Poetry Business Competition, judged by Billy Collins. ‘This is a poetry of exquisite timing, with some of the most satisfying last lines I’ve ever read. Yates can take an everyday domestic detail and make it sparkle with the mystery of a Raedecker painting’ (Luke Kennard)