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

February 25

West Greenwich Library
146 Greenwich High Rd
London SE10 8NN

WRITING DOWN DEEP
Jan Fortune of Cinnamon Press will launch her own book, Writing Down DeepAn Alchemy of the Writing Life, grown from her blog, experience and craft. Not a how-to, but a volume rich with ideas, exercises and reflections.

Door opens at 7 for a 7.30 start. All welcome

March 10 – POSTPONED UNTIL SEPTEMBER

Graham Fawcett‘s lecture/performance on American poet Elizabeth Bishop.

Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979) is not widely known in this country. Unaccountably so, given her profound and varied output, her literary prizes and her interesting life.

But for a true insight and some wonderful readings, do come to Graham’s talk with the wonderful Sue Aldred as second reading voice. Plenty of time to whet your appetite by reading up on Bishop…

Venue to be confirmed.

March 24

West Greenwich Library
146 Greenwich High Rd
London SE10 8NN

Two Cinnamon poets with very different voices: Edward Ragg, who lives in China, will read from his book Exploring Rights; Ian Gregson will launch his collection with the intriguing title The Slasher and the Vampire as Role Models. Ian replaces Omar Sabbagh, who sadly is unable to come over from Dubai. Let’s hope that Edward Ragg will be allowed to travel from China…

Door opens at 7 for a 7.30 start. All welcome

April 28

West Greenwich Library
146 Greenwich High Rd
London SE10 8NN

TWO GIRLS AND A BEEHIVE
Rosie Jackson and Graham Burchell will launch Two Girls and a Beehive, their collaborative collection of poems, due to be published by Two Rivers Press (Reading) earlier that month. The poems follow the life and explore much of the work of visionary artist Stanley Spencer, as well as giving voice to his complex personal life and the relative invisibility of artist Hilda Carline, his first wife. With projected images of the artist’s works.

Door opens at 7 for a 7.30 start. All welcome

May 12

West Greenwich Library
146 Greenwich High Rd
London SE10 8NN

Readings by the wonderful Chrissie Gittins and Wendy French

Door opens at 7 for a 7.30 start. All welcome

June 23

West Greenwich Library
146 Greenwich High Rd
London SE10 8NN

NIGHT WATCHED
Celebrating the Solstice with Graham High‘s poetic look at the Astronomers Royal, Kelley Swayne bringing us women astronomers plus other poets’ vision of the night skies…

Door opens at 7 for a 7.30 start. All welcome