In a gathering of major international voices to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Poetry International, this Royal Festival Hall reading transports the audience across the globe, and extols the transformative power of poetry.
Ted Hughes founded the festival at Southbank Centre in 1967 to celebrate poetry as ‘a universal language of understanding in which we can all hope to meet’.
Audience members hear a special recording of Hughes’ ‘Thistles’ to mark the event.
The afternoon is introduced by Chris McCabe, Poetry Librarian at Southbank Centre’s National Poetry Library, and features the following poets:
Born in Port of Spain, Vahni Capildeo has lived in the UK since 1991. Her most recent collection, Measures of Expatriation (2016), won the 2016 Forward Prize. Her collection Venus as a Bear is forthcoming in 2018, published by Carcanet.
Her work is infused with ‘the sense of coexistent distance-in-presence, presence-in-distance’ which she characterises as typical of electronic communication today, while showing ‘how travellers carry elsewhen as well as elsewhere in their heart.’
Anne Carson was born in Canada and has been a professor of Classics for over 30 years. Her awards and honours include the Lannan Award, the Pushcart Prize, the Griffin Trust Award for Excellence in Poetry, and fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundations.
Her radically experimental work has earned her a reputation as one of the most expansive and formally innovative poets of recent times.
Joy Harjo’s eight books of poetry include Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings, How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems and She Had Some Horses. Harjo’s memoir Crazy Brave won several awards, including the PEN USA Literary Award for Creative Non-Fiction and the American Book Award.
She is the recipient of the 2015 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets for proven mastery in the art of poetry; a Guggenheim Fellowship, the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and the United States Artist Fellowship.
Yang Lian was one of the original Misty Poets who reacted against the strictures of the Cultural Revolution. Born in Switzerland, the son of a diplomat, he grew up in Beijing and began writing when he was sent to the countryside in the 1970s.
His work was criticised in China in 1983 and formally banned in 1989 when he organised memorial services for the dead of Tiananmen while in New Zealand. He was awarded the International Nonino Prize in 2012. His works Where the Sea Stands Still and Narrative Poem are Poetry Book Society Recommended Translations.
Sjón is a celebrated Icelandic novelist and poet. He won the Nordic Council's Literary Prize for his novel The Blue Fox, and his novel From The Mouth Of The Whale was shortlisted for both the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.
His novel Moonstone – The Boy Who Never Was from 2013 received every major literature prize in Iceland. Sjón's novels have been published in 35 languages. He is also the co-editor (with Ted Hodgkinson) of The Dark Blue Winter Overcoat and other stories from the North, which is published to coincide with London Literature Festival.
Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry, including Citizen: An American Lyric, for which she won the Forward Prize for Poetry, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry (Citizen was also nominated in the criticism category, making it the first book in the award’s history to be a double nominee), the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the PEN Open Book Award, and the NAACP Image Award.
A finalist for the National Book Award, Citizen also holds the distinction of being the only poetry book to be a New York Times bestseller in the nonfiction category. Among her numerous awards and honors, Rankine is the recipient of the Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry, Poets & Writers’ Jackson Poetry Prize and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, United States Artists, and the National Endowment of the Arts.
Arundhathi Subramaniam lives in Bombay where she works as a writer, editor and curator. Bloodaxe published her first UK selection, Where I Live: New & Selected Poems in 2009, combining work from two Indian collections with new poems. Her latest collection, When God Is a Traveller (Bloodaxe Books, 2014), was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and was a Poetry Book Society Choice.
She has also written The Book of Buddha (Penguin, 2005) and Sadhguru: More Than a Life (Penguin, 2010), co-edited Confronting Love (Penguin, 2005), an anthology of Indian love poems in English, and edited Pilgrim's India: An Anthology (Penguin, 2011).
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Please note, this event is not included in the Poetry International Pass