Celebrating Keats, 24 May – 2 June

Keats House

Keats House

 
 
 
Poets and cultural organisations from Mexico, Armenia, Ethiopia, Iran, Australia and USA are among those taking part in the ‘biggest and best yet’ Keats Festival at the poet’s house in Hampstead to celebrate his legacy.
 
 
Organisers of the annual event – now in its fourth year – say they are hoping to attract record numbers of visitors to Keats House during the Festival’s two-week run from Friday 24 May to Sunday 2 June. This year’s theme is ‘Health is my expected heaven’: The body and the imagination.
 
 
Around 40 events are being organised, including poetry readings by established poets and emerging talent; musical performances; jewellery workshops; talks; family activities, and creative writing workshops, hosted by leading poets and fiction writers.
 
 
Highlights include:
 
 
Patricia McCarthy and Jane Draycott, the winner and runner-up respectively of the National Poetry Competition,  reading their prize-winning work;
 
 
events by, and for, young people, including the Foyle Young Poets workshop and an ‘open mic’ session organised by the Keats Youth Poets Forum;
 
 
Cherrell Avery, the calligrapher on Jane Campion’s Bright Star, will run an introductory calligraphy workshop for adults, and
 
 
the return – by popular demand – of George, the mechanical dragon.
 
 
This year’s Keats Festival will also mark the beginning of a new poet-in-residence at the House. Jo Shapcott, whose best-known work includes Her Book, Tender Taxes and Of Mutability, for which she won the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2011, takes over the residency from John Hegley.
 
 
Vicky Carroll, Principal Curator at Keats House, said:
 
 
“Keats Festival is going from strength to strength, and we are building on the popularity of the first three events to deliver the biggest and best Festival yet. It will be a joyous – and truly international – celebration of Keats’ legacy for people of all ages, and I am delighted that, as well as attracting participants from around the globe, we are using the event to welcome Jo Shapcott to Keats House.  Jo is at the top of her game and she is excited at being part of the Festival and, as we go forward, to working with us to inspire poetry lovers and budding writers to celebrate Keats’ talent, as well as develop and nurture their own.”
 
  
Some events are free and there is a small admission charge for others.
 
 
All events at the Keats Festival must be booked in advance by calling 020 7332 3868,
 
or email keatshouse@cityoflondon.gov.uk.

For more information about Keats House,
visit www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/keatshousehampstead.
 
 
 
 

George, 'the mechanical dragon', at Keats House

George, ‘the mechanical dragon’, at Keats House

 
 
 
Keats Festival 2013 programme
 
 
 
Friday 24 May
 
 
Poetry Appreciation Group

2-3.30pm
Workshop
Free
 
Led by Ken Page of the Keats House team, the group meets regularly at Keats House to read and discuss works by established poets. In keeping with the theme of the festival, this week’s theme is Bodies.
 
 
Disabled Genius: Alexander Pope – Poet, Satirist, Scourge
and Wit

2.30-3.30pm
Talk
Free
 
Join Colin Pinney to discover the life of ‘The Little Nightingale’, as Sir Joshua Reynolds called him, from his childhood in Windsor Forest to the coffee houses of eighteenth-century London – the age of Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and John Gay’s Beggars’ Opera.
 
 
Keats, Cobbett and Cottage Gardens –
Fine Words Buttering Parsnips

4-6pm
Talk
£7
Caroline Holmes
 
Keats’s poetry timelessly evokes the fecund beauty of cottage gardens. Cobbett’s political rant ‘Cottage Economy’ decries potatoes and tea whilst praising maize and homebrew. Caroline Holmes explores both in a talk which will culminate amongst the blossoms and borders of Keats House garden. A Chelsea Fringe event.
 
 
The Poetry Parnassus Postscript: Crossing Continents
6.30-8.30pm
Reading
£5
 
A myriad of global voices – from the Performance poetry of Mexico’s Rocío Cerón to the Caribbean-inflected, UK-influenced work of Malika Booker and Karen McCarthy-Woolf; from the British-Iranian sensibilities of Mimi Khalvati to the poetry of Antipodean writer Cath Drake, via the lyrical works of Armenia’s Poet Laureate, Razmik Davoyan. A night of continental shifts through the power of the word. In association with Speaking Volumes Live Literature Productions. 
 
 
 
Saturday 25 May
 
 
Bitter-Sweet
10.30am-1.30pm
Workshop
£10
 
Explore writing using all the senses, especially smell, with Cherry Potts, short story writer, novelist and owner of Arachne Press. If you have a scent that means a lot to you, bring it with you! For fiction writers and poets with all levels of experience.
 
 
Lovers’ Lies, and Weird Lies
3-4pm
Reading
£5
 
Focusing (loosely!) on Keats’ involvement with science, medicine and nature, Arachne Press brings you stories of the Garden of Eden, conversations with tadpoles, a meeting of minds across disciplines and love, repression and an old-fashioned approach to doctoring. Writings by Tania Hershman, Cherry Potts, Bobbie Darbyshire and Tom McKay.
 
 
The Lyric Self
10.30am-1.30pm
Workshop
£10
 
Find and channel your lyric self with Dante Micheaux. The lyric poem is a text of emotion and thought, expressed directly from the poet to the reader. Participants will compare examples of Anglophone lyric poetry and create a poem of their own.
 
 
Chinese Calligraphy
2-4pm
Workshop
Free, drop-in
Family friendly
 
Try your hand at the art of Chinese calligraphy with Jing He. This drop-in workshop is suitable for adults and families. No booking necessary – just come along and enjoy.
 
 
House History
2-4pm
Workshop
£10
 
Nick Barratt, genealogical consultant for Who Do You Think You Are?, will lead a practical workshop showing how to trace the history of a property, from first steps to detailed archival research covering maps, land surveys, occupancy records, manorial documents and associated historic sources.
 
 
Shelley, Byron and the Allegra Story
6.30-8.30pm
Performance
£5
 
Susan Brandt’s docu-play is about the love-affair of Lord Byron and Claire Clairmont (Mary Shelley’s step-sister), and their daughter, Allegra. In this dramatized Reading, Claire narrates the heart-rending story using the characters’ actual letters and journals, revealing Byron to be other than the lovable rogue we usually see.
 
 
 
Sunday 26 May
 
 
Words and Music: Playing Poetry
2-4pm
Performance
Free
 
An afternoon of classic and contemporary poetry spoken, sung and harmonized with musical accompaniment. Presented by MA Music Theatre students of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in association with Spread the Word, an Arts Council funded charity supporting new writing in London, and the Keats House Poets.
 
 
The Ode
2-4pm
Workshop
Free
 
Join Foyle Young Poets, Flora de Falbe, David Carey, Sarah Fletcher and Alex Hartley to explore the timelessness and evolution of the ode form. Read authors as diverse as Catullus, Neruda and Keats, and create your own odes through a variety of writing exercises.
 
 
Foyle Young Poets
4.30-6pm
Reading & open mic
Free
 
Workshop participants will read odes written during the afternoon’s workshop, to be followed by an open mic session. 
 
 
flamingofeather Poetry and Dance
5.30-7.30pm
Reading & performance
Free
 
Reading by winners of the flamingofeather poetry competition and the judges, Mimi Khalvati and Peter Daniels. Plus Performance by 55+ Sage Dance Company, directed by former Royal Ballet soloist Simon Rice.
 
 
 
Monday 27 May
 
 
Keats in Hampstead
11am-1.30pm
Guided walk
£8/£6 concessions
 
Follow the story of Keats’s life in this walk with readings from some of his best-loved poems. Starting at Hampstead tube, we will stroll through old Hampstead, visit the Vale of Health, dip into the Heath and finish at Keats House. Please wear comfortable shoes.
 
 
All the Fish in the Sea
10.30-12.30pm
Workshop
Free
Family friendly
 
Create sparkling foil fish with artist Jennifer Conroy and frame them in a beautiful seascape to take home. Suitable for families with children aged four and upwards.
 
 
Jewellery Masterclass
2-4pm
Workshop
£7, includes materials
 
Create your own exquisite, hand-crafted jewellery from recycled paper with artist Jennifer Conroy using a range of innovative cutting, folding and origami techniques. For adults, including beginners.
 
 
 
Tuesday 28 May
 
 
Drama Fun for Families
10.30am-1.30pm and 2-5pm
Workshop
Free
Family friendly
 
The Bunbury Banter Theatre Company will be running two audio drama workshops for families. Working on two different Keats poems, we will make discoveries, have fun and leave with lots of interesting recorded audio material, which afterwards will be edited and put on the web for the world to hear.
 
 
Anonymity & the Prizewinning Poem
6.30-9pm
Reading
£5
 
Patricia McCarthy, Jane Draycott and Pascale Petit are top winners in this year’s National Poetry Competition, chosen from over 13,000 anonymous entries. They read together here for the first time, and discuss the liberations of anonymity, exploring how poems can escape their authors. Presented by the Poetry Society.
 
 
 
Wednesday 29 May
 
 
Volunteering at Keats House
11am-12.30pm
Drop-in info session
Free
 
Join us for a cup of tea and find out how you could meet new people and learn new skills by volunteering at Keats House. This drop-in info session is open to anyone aged 18 or over; no previous experience is required. No booking necessary. 
 
 
Introduction to Calligraphy
1.30-4pm
Workshop
£7, includes materials
 
Explore the beautiful art of calligraphy using quills, nibs and pens with Cherrell Avery, calligrapher on the film Bright Star. Learn the beauty of the written word and discover how lettering styles are used to convey the emotion of the words to great effect. For adult beginners.
 
 
The Poet Next Door
6.30-8pm
Talk
£5
 
Prize-winning biographer Lyndall Gordon will talk about the explosive and visionary character of Emily Dickinson, the poems she shared with her confidante next door, and the medical secret that kept her secluded in her father’s house. Presented by the Poetry Society.
 
 
 
Thursday 30 May
 
 
Feltmaking Demonstration
1-3.30pm
Drop-in demonstration
 
Discover the beautiful tradition of feltmaking. During this demonstration felt artist, Avigail Ochert will show you how to transform merino fleece into beautiful artwork using nothing more than soap, water and elbow grease. No booking necessary.
 
 
Felt Workshop
3.30-5.30pm
Workshop
Free
Family friendly
 
Come and make a unique and beautiful hand felted bag. During this workshop you will learn how to draw with wool and create a beautiful felted bag which you can take away with you. This workshop is suitable for children aged five plus with parents or carers supporting their children.
 
 
Creative Writing – Between the Lines
2-5pm
Workshop
£10
 
In a session aimed at the curiously minded, you will be gently encouraged to leave your comfort zone and explore writing a story from multiple points of view using forms such as poetry and letter writing. For beginners upwards. With Anjan Saha, Visiting Writer at Keats House 2012.

 
International Voices with Parnussus Poets & Guests
6.30pm-9pm
Reading
£5
 
In 2012 Poetry Parnassus gathered poets from every Olympic nation to read at the Southbank. In 2013 some of the Parnussus Poets will be reunited alongside British counterparts to present the history of the world through their stories and “found” poetry. There will be live calligraphy and music to make for a truly sumptuous event. Hosted by Anjan Saha. Countries represented to include St. Kitts, Bermuda, Grenada, India and the UK. Curated by London Literature Lounge. 
 
 
 
Friday 31 May
 
 
Illustrating the Immortal Bird
10.30am-1pm
Workshop
£10, includes materials
 
Join artist Maggie Nightingale for a fun, immersive, experience focusing on Keats’s famous ‘Ode to a Nightingale’, written under a tree here at Keats House. The group will explore the grounds, consider how poets have represented their work visually, and contribute to mixed-media illustration to Keats’s poem. Adults at all levels welcome.
 
 
Getting Started in Life Writing
2-5pm
Workshop
Free
 
Everyone has a unique voice and experience. Join Andrea Watts in an afternoon of exercises to get your memory and writing muscles working. This course is ideal for beginners looking for fun, practical skills and inspiration to keep writing.
 
 
The Day the Grass Came – and Unmade Roads
6.30-9pm
Reading
£5
 
Muswell Press poets Leo Aylen and Alan Franks honour Keats through their recent collections. Aylen performs his acclaimed theatrical poetry, with scenes from Brixton tube station to Vesuvius erupting, whilst  Times columnist Franks ‘A modern day Sydney Carter’ delivers ‘poetry of great musicality’ (Jo Shapcott).
 
 
 
Saturday 1 June
 
 
‘The Silent Mysteries of Earth’
10.30am-1.30pm
Workshop
£10
 
Join Rommi Smith for an outdoor creative writing workshop. Together, we’ll take morning tea in the garden, tuning into Keats’ House’s beautiful garden space, as both muse and inspiration. We’ll explore the magic of seeing things from different perspectives and techniques for imbuing the everyday with the extraordinary.
 
 
Volunteering at Keats House
11am-12.30pm
Drop-in info session
Free
 
Join us for a cup of tea and find out how you could meet new people and learn new skills by volunteering at Keats House. This drop-in info session is open to anyone aged 18 or over; no previous experience is required. No booking necessary. 
 
 
Wild Writing
2-5pm
Workshop
£10 
 
Cath Drake invites poetry and prose writers of all levels to stretch beyond the predictable, re-invent the ordinary, sneak into the surreal, flirt with freefall and have fun taking your writing to unexpected places. Put aside the editor and critic and let your creativity fly.  
 
 
Momentum
6.30-8.30pm
Reading
£5
 
Discover the joys of collaboration as Cath Drake hosts poets Kayo Chingonyi, Jocelyn Page, Saradha Soobrayen and Jacqueline Saphra. Some are part of online collaborative group, The Vineyard; others meet regularly, mentored by Mimi Khalvati.
 
 
 
Sunday 2 June
 
 
George the Dragon
1-5pm
Installation
Free
Family friendly
 
George is a giant mechanical dragon. Rarely rolled out due to his great age and cantankerous nature, this marvel of grime and grease is a hand cranked mechanical wonder. Keith Moore invites the fearless and curious to step forward, turn the handles and bring George to life. Drop-in, no booking necessary.
 
 
Keats Youth Poets Forum
1.30-3.30pm
Reading & open mic
Free
 
The Keats House Poets are back for another chilled-out afternoon of poetry and spoken word. Open mic, plus performances from headliner Anthony Anaxagorou, with Raymond Antrobus, Simon Mole, Deanna Rodger, Dean Atta, Laila Sumpton, Sonority Turner and Kaamil Ahmed. Arrive early to grab an open mic slot.
 
 
Austentation
3-4.30pm
Performance
Free
 
Regency musicians Frank Underwood and Angela Mayorga play romantic guitar and other stringed instruments of the period and Gillian Tunley supplies vocals and regency percussion, all in the costume of Jane Austen’s day. Suitable for all ages.
 
 
Strange Tracks
3-4.30pm
Reading
Free
 
Celebrate the changing face of Modern Poetry in Translation with Chris Beckett, poet and translator of Ethopian poetry, Frances Leviston, whose first collection Public Dream was shortlisted for the TS Elliot Prize, and Fiona Sze-Lorrain, poet and translator from Chinese.
 
 
Here We Go Round the Mulberry Tree
5-7pm
Reading
Free
 
Join us to celebrate the launch of the 2012 Keats Anthology. John Hegley and anthology poets will read work written in 2012 during the festival and other workshops during John’s residency.
 
 
 
Booking information
 
Free and paid events must all be booked in advance unless otherwise stated.
 
Phone 020 7332 3868 or email keatshouse@cityoflondon.gov.uk.
 
If you book a space and then can’t come, please let the festival organisers know so they can offer the place to somebody else.
 
Keats Foundation members receive £2 off each event. Membership costs from £25.
 
Keats House is situated at Keats Grove, Hampstead,
London, NW3 2RR. 
 
 

Keats' letter to Mrs Brawne, The Keats Collection

Keats’ letter to Mrs Brawne, The Keats Collection

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