Every 22 April, organisations across the world celebrate Earth Day, to demonstrate support, and provoke awareness of the need, for environmental protection. This year we join them, with a special evening of poetry in Hayward Gallery.
In Leaving the City: Poets on Trees, ten poets read their poems specially commissioned in response to works featured in Among the Trees. This evocative Hayward Gallery exhibition invites us to consider trees as symbols and organisms that have helped shape human civilisation. It’s an exhibition that includes works of sculpture, painting, installation, video, and photography, and, for this one night, poetry. And specifically the poetry of these ten poets.
Anna Selby is a poet and naturalist. She works collaboratively with dancers and choreographers, and writes poetic-studies of different species in the field, directly from life, often underwater. Her aim is for these poems to share a sense of compassion and attentiveness to the environment.
London-based L Kiew holds a MSc in Creative Writing and Literary Studies from Edinburgh University, but earns her living as an accountant. Currently a participant in the London Library Emerging Writers Programme, her debut pamphlet The Unquiet came out with Offord Road Books in February last year.
Mona Arshi grew up in Hounslow with Sikh Punjabi parents. Initially trained as a solicitor, she began writing poetry in 2008, and in 2015 won the Forward Prize, Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection for her work Small Hands. Her second book, Dear Big Gods, was published in April 2019.
Seán Hewitt’s debut pamphlet of poems, Lantern, won an Eric Gregory Award in 2019, and was also that year’s Poetry Book Society Summer Pamphlet Choice. His book J.M. Synge: Nature, Politics, Modernism, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. His debut collection, Tongues of Fire, will be published by Jonathan Cape in April this year.
Poet, writer and filmmaker Victoria Adukwei Bulley’s work has appeared in publications including The Poetry Review and Chicago Review, as well as featuring on BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour. A former Barbican Young Poet, in 2018 she won a Society of Authors Eric Gregory Award for promising UK poets under 30.
Liz Berry became interested in poetry after taking a beginners poetry class at a local college. Her debut collection, Black Country, won multiple awards including the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Somerset Maugham Award. It was also named poetry book of the year by The Guardian, among other publications.
Will Burns was named as a Faber & Faber New Poet in 2014, with his first pamphlet published by Faber that year.In 2019 he released the album Chalk Hill Blue, a collaborative work with the composer Hannah Peel which set a number of his poems to her music. His first full-length collection, Country Music, is published this year.
A poet and zinemaker from Aotearoa New Zealand now based in London, Nina Mingya Powles’ recent publications include Tiny Moons, a food memoir, and the poetry collections field notes on a downpour (2018) and Luminescent (2017). She is the founding editor of Bitter Melon, a small poetry press for Asian diaspora writers.
London-based Indonesian writer and artist Khairani Barokka’s work has been presented extensively, in fifteen countries. Okka was Modern Poetry in Translation’s Inaugural Poet-In-Residence, and as well as penning her own poetry collection, Rope, she co-edited Stairs and Whispers: d/Deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back, and was author-illustrator of Indigenous Species.
Dom Bury is a writer, poet, environmentalist and founder of Humans on Fire, a project that aims to rebirth a new humanity in service to the planet. He is the recipient of an Eric Gregory Award, a Jerwood/Arvon Mentorship and has won The National Poetry Competition.