Who are you and what is this?
My name’s Ben, I’m a poet and a Creative Associate at Nottingham Playhouse, and I’ve had the pleasure of putting this whole event together – along with Craig at the Playhouse and Becky who’s working with Nottingham City of Literature.
Originally Becky and I were going to do separate events on National Poetry Day but we realised that the best way to avoid a clash was not to simply schedule them at slightly different times, but to combine them into the same damn shindig. Hence this quite literally enormous poetry event. It’s going to be a huge celebration of poetry in all its many guises, with a bloomin’ funfair beforehand, a DJ afterhand, and line-up to die for mid-hand, featuring some of my very favourite artists in the world.
Poetry is really good. And not enough people know that yet. Many catch an aversion to poetry in school by almost exclusively studying dead white men, and they struggle to shake the virus after that. And while there’s nothing wrong with those poets (big up yourselves lads), they are not Poetry Incarnate. There is so much more out there, and I want people to hear it. Besides, it tends to be more enjoyable to watch poets perform their work while they’re still alive. All the poets on our line up are very much still alive.
The artform is in a really interesting place, where lots of conversations are being had about what is and isn’t poetry, who is and isn’t allowed in the club, how we should or shouldn’t disseminate their work, etc etc. Some of those conversations are interesting – as the medium grows in popularity we need to recognise that not everyone’s tastes will align, and that’s okay.
As Don Paterson put it, ‘I should stop paying lip service to this lazy rubbish about poetry being a broad church. It can be many churches, and we needn’t worship at them all.’ Well said, Don.
I wanted to pull together a line-up of world-class writers and performers from across the spectrum of the poetry world, so we can celebrate the art form at its most diverse and exciting, and hopefully introduce audiences to something they’ve not heard before and didn’t know they liked.
I want Dizraeli fans to pre-order Will Harris’s debut collection as soon as they get home, Liz Berry fans to leave with Dizraeli’s new LP under their arms, and Georgina Wilding devotees to be howling Jamie Thrasivoulou verses into the night as they wander away from Wellington Circus in a near-religious daze this October.
Why this line up?
Emily Dickinson famously wrote ‘If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.’ Each and every one of the artists on this bill takes the top of my head clean off. I feel dismantled and mantled anew by their work and their company. I know it sounds obvious, but the joy of curating a night like this, on this scale, is you can book people you really like and whose work excites you.
So even if no one comes I will still have a glorious evening. Albeit an extremely costly one. (Please do come. I think you will have a glorious evening too).