Tag Archives: Jo Shapcott

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

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

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

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Reading & open mic
Workshop participants will read odes written during the afternoon’s workshop, to be followed by an open mic session. 
flamingofeather Poetry and Dance
Reading & performance
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
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
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
£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
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
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
Drop-in info session
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
£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
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
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
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
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
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, 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
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
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’
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
Drop-in info session
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
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.  
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
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
Reading & open mic
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.
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
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
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

Days of Roses Anthology

About the anthology
Editors Declan Ryan and Malene Engelund have chosen to focus on poets who have read at the series and who are at an early stage of their career. Many of the contributors have released acclaimed pamphlets, but most are not quite at a full first collection stage. As such, the anthology is intended not only as a memento of the highlights of the first two years of the event, but a showcase and calling card for some of the most gifted up-and-coming poets in the country.

About Days of Roses
Days of Roses began life as a monthly literary event, starting in January 2009 at Filthy McNasty’s in Angel and going on to hold nights as part of the Oxfam Bookfest at its flagship Marylebone store as well as readings at 3 Blind Mice, The Camden Head, The Book Club and The Rugby Tavern. Initially an off-shoot of the Royal Holloway Creative Writing MA, a writing programme run by writers including former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion and Head of the Poetry Society, Jo Shapcott, the evenings quickly evolved into a place for guest writers to showcase their work alongside new voices from the Royal Holloway MA, past and present.
Date: 23 February 2011
Time: 18h30 to 23h00
Location: 3 Blind Mice, 5 Ravey Street, EC2A 4QW, London
The launch of the first Days of Roses anthology will feature readings from the contributors: Jo Shapcott, Christopher Horton, Declan Ryan, Dominic McLoughlin, Gareth Jones, Liz Berry, Lydia Macpherson, Malene Engelund, Marianne Burton, Maximillian Hildebrand, Robert Selby, William Searle and music from Fiona Bevan and Mr Dupret Factory and friends.
Copies will be available on the night with 15 different signed and numbered covers created by Ross McNicol and Amelia Newton Whitelaw. The anthology will be available on Amazon after the launch.
Till dawn
Lydia Macpherson
They say it’s harder for those left behind,
so why do you keep trying to get back?
These days I’m sleeping with the lights on,
expert in the phases of the moon,
the early morning train times, the taxonomy
of moths. Even with my eyes screwed shut,
I note the clock’s red flick as if you’d passed
a hand across my face. The milky drinks
in the small hours of the kitchen,
lit by the fridge’s cinema glow, the burbling
background of the World Service,
its RP reassurance giving way to patriotic
music, weather continents distant,
the far flung potential of the shipping forecast –
nothing drives you off. How many years was it
before the ground had settled back to make
a headstone worth its while? That rose
your mother threw must have joined
you long ago in a slow dance of rot and growth.
It seems just yesterday that staying up till dawn
was all we wanted. Be careful what you wish for.
The chink of milk bottles, the baby’s cries,
a two-tone siren streets away, all mark
the daily absences of life.
Previously published in Magma.
Baking with Kathryn
Declan Ryan
Two halved eggs are brittle castanets, their parted shells
at no risk in your hands despite their bloom, calcium crystals
thick, a liquid line slides, one to the next.
Dark chocolate snaps into splinters beneath your thumb,
between pinning your hair with a grip and miming drums,
two clean whisks your soft jazz brushes.
When the machinery stops we hear the start of Beeswing,
of work next to a laundry girl, animal in her eyes, a rare thing
then as now to find such fineness stilled.
While we wait you play Debussy’s Sarabande, with élégance
grave et lent
, and I watch your fingers in a practiced dance,
forgetting what we have left to the heat.
Previously published on Eyewear.
Trucker’s Mate
Liz Berry
The A1 is the loneliest. Four hundred
and nine miles down the spine of the country,
only the firefly of a fag tip to keep you steady.
A man needs some company,
an eye on the map, a hand on the radio.
Ten four, hammer down, breaker breaker.
He made a man of me, rubbed me
smooth with engine grease, taught me how
to pull a flatbed, take an unsigned route,
draw the curtains against the prying eyes
of headlights. As other lorries trundle home,
we push onwards, the road a romance.
I was a kid that first night. Birmingham
to Folkestone. The junctions looping
and racing above us, his hand on my leg.
In the woods beside the layby, I pressed my tongue
into the sap of a pine tree as I pissed,
already half in love with him.
Now belly to back in the cab, his vertebrae
like cat’s eyes guiding me down,
I think of the M6 Toll, lined with two million
pulped Mills and Boons; how love is buried
in unlooked for places, kept secret like us.
In the darkness his breath hums like an engine.
Previously published in Magma.
The Singer and The Catch
Marianne Burton
It was not straight doing.
A witch told him how to hold me, to throw
his shirt over my back when I surfaced,
pulling up on the boat’s side to hear him sing.
He was a small man, not much to look at,
with a black tooth and a short beard,
brown and white, the plumage of granite.
He caught me fair in my woman’s shape
and I lay in the shell of the boat winded,
caught on the turn, my legs still legs.
The next night he came in from fishing,
I was sat in the kitchen, bemused by the pots,
the fire too hot, the cutlery too reminiscent
of fish hooks to keep me comfortable.
Where’s my supper then? he said, woman,
as if to emphasise I was woman now for him,
fleshed and flayed. He hit my face, lightly,
a caress, a joke, but the intent was serious,
and the men in the doorway jeered,
and a woman laughed. One I said.
Two months later the village had a wedding.
Not ours. Still, he was singing in the evenings
and each time his voice sounded the spell held;
I couldn’t move from the room it was so sweet.
The men stared at the dust on my black coat,
the woman raised her eyebrows at my clogs.
I’d never tasted wine and after a time
I spun and laughed, then wept at the sorrow
the bride would know. He slapped me hard,
weeping at a marriage. Two I said.
Shortly after, but a long time it seemed,
one of the men was trapped in the nets,
turned up bloated and still on the beach.
Not my man though. At the funeral
they poured an oily orange water which bit;
and after a glass I threw back my head
and laughed at all the pain he was spared,
the dead man. A great blow he dealt me
this time to the side of my head. The eyes
of the woman danced as she watched. Three I said.
I was out of his home then in my black coat
and away that night.
But his singing would carry down to the beach
and I’d crawl through the graves to peer in
where he sat in the firelight with his one candle;
fire and cat hissing at my face at the window.
The woman lay across his lap and laughed,
and he – he turned and pointed at her,
separated her long fingers, not webbed
at all, drew her skirt up above her knees
and pointed to her feet, real feet with toes,
and he opened his mouth and sang.
I did not want his coarse beard, his bruises,
his black greasy kitchen, or the sweat of his bed,
but I wanted the music and that they knew,
as their faces hardened into spite, and I slid
from the sill, across the pebble shale, back
into the sea where the music doesn’t hurt.
Previously published in Chapman.
from the first Days of Roses anthology.
Join the Days of Roses Facebook group.

Poetry for Haiti

Poetry for Haiti
The Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has invited 20 leading poets to perform at Central Hall Westminster at 2.30pm on Saturday 30 January 2010 in a fundraising event for the people of Haiti. Poets include Carol Ann Duffy, Brian Patten, Roger McGough, Gillian Clarke, John Agard, Imtiaz Dharker, Daljit Nagra, Grace Nichols, Ian Duhig, Elaine Feinstein, Lachlan Mackinnon, Maura Dooley, Robert Minhinnick and Jo Shapcott.
Saturday 30 January 2010, 2.30pm
Venue: Central Hall Westminster, London
Tickets are £10. Telephone 01497 822629 or at The Hay Festival website.
Tickets will be available at the door on the day for cash only.
All proceeds will go to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Haiti Earthquake Appeal.
This event has been made possible thanks to the huge generosity of the Guardian Hay Festival, Westminster Central Hall and Eclipse Sound and Light.
I’ve no doubt this will be an afternoon filled with memorable poetry, so if you’re in the area do treat yourself  with a ticket.