World’s Words – Civilisations Festival

It was a privilege for me to be asked by the Library to organise an event during this week-long, nation-wide celebration of human creativity in all its forms. Thanks to the generous suggestions by my now extensive network of poets and authors, and the even more generous participation of eight supremely talented poets, I and the large audience enjoyed a terrific and moving evening. Although the event was all about ‘words’, it is hard to convey in words the emotions elicited by the music, rhythms and meanings of the many poems read in Arabic, Bangla, Greek and English. There may be a recording of it and shall post it if I’m able to… The theme of ‘words’ stretched to migration, war, asylum, identity. But it is words that people take with them as they move from place to place, and their translation allow us entry into their lives and experiences. As someone said, translation is the essence of hospitality. And as we all know, hospitality is the essence of civilisation.

Adnan Al-Sayegh reading with (l-r) Milton, Stephen, Farah and Mick


Me getting the session started, with (l-r) Fiona, Kostya, Mick and Lorraine


Mick Delap reading, with Milton, Stephen, Adnan and Farah

Stephen reading. As well as a fantastic poet in his own right, Stephen performed his translations of Adnan’s poems. He also compiled, and read from, a bilingual anthology of Bangladeshi poetry.
Milton


Left to right: Lorraine Mariner, Kostya Tsolakis, Milton Rahman, Stephen Watts, Adnan Al-Sayegh, Farah Naz, Fiona Moore and Mick Delap

And, as part of the same project, on Wednesday March 7, storytellers Farah Naz and Rich Sylvester http://richstories.mayfirst.org/ ran three sessions with year 4 pupils of James Wolfe Primary School in Royal Hill. I sat in on one of the sessions and learnt all about the origin of sunlight, the first sandals ever made and how to make a lazy young man into one with a decent work ethic… Here are a couple of images from the session. Thank you Rich and Farah, and the Head and Deputy head of the school (Steve Harris and Taniya Ahmed) for being so enthusiastic about this project.

Events

Thursday 20 January at 7.30 on Zoom

tall-lighthouse redux

tall-lighthouse celebrates its return to publishing poetry pamphlets by introducing poets Christopher Horton, Joshua Calladine-Jones, Mark Wynne and Sarah Shapiro.

After the High Window, it’s the turn of tall-lighthouse, in its own words ‘still publishing bloody good poetry‘. Here is some initial information about the publisher and the event:
tall-lighthouse is a Lewisham based poetry press and its current list includes poets from the UK, Ireland, Northern Ireland, the USA Canada and Europe.
The reading will have an international flavour as Sarah is based in Boston (USA) and Joshua in Prague.

tall-lighthouse has a reputation for publishing new talent, being the first in the UK to publish Helen Mort, Sarah Howe, Liz Berry, Adam O’Riordan, Rhian Edwards, Emily Berry, Kate Potts and many others. Many poets published by tall-lighthouse have gone on to full collections with
major poetry publishers in the UK. These include Sarah Howe, winner of the TSEliot prize in 2015 with her Chatto&Windus collection Loop of Jade; Helen Mort whose debut full collection Division Street (Chatto&Windus) was shortlisted for the TSEliot prize as was Ailbhe Darcy with her collection Insistence (Bloodaxe). Similarly Jay Bernard and Vidyan Ravinthiran
were both shortlisted for the 2020 TSEliot prize. Other tall-lighthouse poets have also been awarded important prizes.

I hope you can join us for this reading, which, as usual, is free by invitation. For a zoom link, please email irena@in-words.co.uk

And here are the detail about the poets who will read on the night:

Joshua Calladine-Jones was born in Greater Manchester, England. He is the literary-critic-in-residence for Prague Writers’ Festival, and his work has appeared in a number of journals, including Freedom, The Stinging Fly, 3:AM, The Gravity of The Thing and Literární.cz. Constructions [Konstrukce] is Joshua’s debut pamphlet.
Discarding the dirty undergarments of English, Joshua Calladine-Jones offers a new taste: “Continuous like stars falling, flies in a glass of milk.” A slippery diving board for the undercurrents of language in a New Stone Age. Michael March

Christopher Horton studied English Literature and American Studies at University of Wales, Swansea, and subsequently taught in China before working as a Housing Officer and then as a Town Planner. His poems have appeared in Poetry London, Poetry Wales, Ambit, Iota, Magma . He has been a prize-winner in the National Poetry Competition, the South Downs Poetry Festival Poetry Prize and The Bridport Prize. Observing an urban world, human and animal – these poems pleasingly mark in word-music the juncture between the said and the unsaid. Gillian Clarke

Sarah Shapiro lives and works in Boston USA. Her poetry is widely published in magazines and on-line, and her debut pamphlet The Bullshit Cosmos was published by ignitionpress.
In this compelling pamphlet, Shapiro speaks back to the impersonal language of diagnostic evaluations as a ‘girl [once] silenced’ – by juxtaposing text taken from her own medical report with creative responses she illustrates the brilliance of her own mind. Mary Jean Chan

Mark Wynne lives in Bath. His poetry has been published in Magma, South Bank Poetry, The Moth and Ambit. Frank & Stella is his debut pamphlet.
Compassionate, humane, and austerely generous Mark Wynne’s poems are finely tuned machines. John Clegg
Reading these poems has been an emotional and intriguing experience […. ]. Frank & Stella is a wonderful addition to my shelves. Congratulations to Mark for such powerful and moving work. Angela Williams