Monday, July 07, 2008

This Week at Ledbury .....

A few events to look out for during the next few days at the Ledbury Poetry Festival:

Tuesday 8th July

In the footsteps of DH Lawrence
Burgage Hall, £6
6.30pm - 7.30pm

Geoff Dyer criss-crosses the globe in the footsteps of DH Lawrence for his remarkable, highly original and laugh-out-loud book Out Of Sheer Rage. Like Alain de Botton, WG Sebald and John Berger, Dyer has established his reputation through his innovative conjoining of specific physical journeys with voyages of intellectual discovery. His other books include The Missing of the Somme, his study of jazz But Beautiful and his apology for traveller idleness Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered To Do It. He says "Following Lawrence around the world I was struck by how quickly my reactions became blunted by the relentless grind of travel... Lawrence dragged his extraordinary responsiveness round the world, reacting to everything he encountered."

Homend Poets
Icebytes, Free
6.30pm - 8.30pm

Local poets read their work at this informal and enjoyable musical and poetry event. Come and join in, all contributions welcome.

Wednesday 9th July

Sebastian Peake on Mervyn Peake
Burgage Hall, £6
6.30pm - 7.30pm

On Mervyn Peake's birthday, on the 40th anniversary of his death, Sebastian Peake will give an illustrated talk about his father, the author of the much-loved Gormenghast trilogy and one of the great originals of the twentieth century. Mervyn Peake was also a poet, painter, playwright and illustrator and this year sees the publication of his Collected Poems, which reveal the dazzling link between the fantasy world of Gormenghast and Peake's own life and turbulent times, from unemployment in the 1930s to the horrors of the London Blitz and the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen.

Jehane Markham Jazz Trio
Burgage Hall, £6
8.15pm - 9.15pm

A night of poetry and jazz with themes ranging from Frank Sinatra to Cambodia to London as poet and playwright Jehane Markham delivers original poetry whilst jazz duo Robin Phillips (piano) and Jonny Gee (electro-acoustic bass) create musical soundscapes to compliment the words.

Ledbury Lyricists
Prince of Wales, Free
8.00pm - 11.00pm

A gathering of folk musicians and poets. Come and join in or simply listen and enjoy.

Friday 11th July

Brenda Read Brown - Flood Poems, Jacqueline Saphra and Eric Gregory Award Winners
Burgage Hall, £6
10.30am - 11.30am

The Gloucestershire floods of July 2007 will not easily be forgotten. Tewkesbury writer and poet, Brenda Read-Brown, visited emergency services, local heroes and ordinary people caught up in the crisis to hear their accounts of that extraordinary time. Some of the stories are captured in her evocative poems. This event will also feature Jacqueline Saphra, the winner of the Ledbury Poetry Festival Poetry Competition and the winners of the 2008 Eric Gregory Awards.

Luke Kennard and Eleanor Rees
Burgage Hall, £8
6.00pm - 7.00pm

For this event the Festival chucks out the rows of chairs and invites you to 'the listening lab', experimenting with different ways of listening. Ever thought you'd rather hear poetry read while you lounge in a deckchair? Then this event is for you.

Jackie Kay
Community Hall
7.30pm - 8.30pm

- one of Britain's best-known poets and a funny and compelling performer.

Polarbear and John Berkavitch
Burgage Hall, £6
9.00pm - 10.00pm

Funny and compelling, Polarbear is one of Britain's foremost performance poets. He creates 21st century story-poems with their roots in the rhythms of hip-hop, combining fantasy and hard reality. His Birmingham twang and subject matter have led to comparisons with Mike Skinner, but Polarbear's hero is Charles Bukowski. John Berkavitch's performance style is a mix of rap, ironic wit, sensitive social observation, unrequited love, beatbox and a passionate distaste for authority. His poems are packaged together with a sense of urgency and at times breathtaking speed and lyrical dexterity.

Saturday 12 July

Improvisation in Poetry: The Big Chill vs John Masefield High School
Market Theatre, Free
2.00pm - 4.00pm

John Masefield High School pupils have worked with The Anomalies, a Hereford based hip-hop group, to produce a 3 minute rap. The Big Chill Festival is also, for the first time, supporting an Education and Outreach Programme involving workshops at John Masefield High School led by two spoken word artists Martin Stannage (AKA Visceral) and Shane Solanki (creator of D1 Archytypes). The performers will also appear at The Big Chill Festival, Eastnor Castle, 1 - 3 August.

Growing Up an Alien
Market Theatre, £10
5.00pm - 6.00pm

Intimate, enchanting and funny, Growing Up An Alien is the new show from captivating Irish writer and performer Aoife Mannix. In the company of mesmeric accordionist Janie Armour, Aoife revisits her nomadic childhood, exploring the relationships that bind all families together and the secrets that pull them apart. Born in a snowstorm in Stockholm on the stroke of midnight, Aoife reveals a wondrous coming-of-age tale about searching for a place to belong.

Poetry Slam
The Market Theatre, £5
6.30pm - 8.30pm

A fast-paced, fun-filled performance poetry competition. Leading UK slampresarios Marcus Moore and Sara-Jane Arbury host proceedings as fifteen diverse versifiers vie for the slam champ accolade. Random judges mark the quality of the writing, quality of performance and warmth of applaudience. Three three-minute rounds narrow the field and heighten the tempo. More tense than Tennyson, keener than Keats, huger than Hughes and, yes, poetry in motion!
To find out just what are Words Worth - or to enter the slam (first come, first served) - contact Marcus on 01285 640470 or at

Extreme Workshop: The Dark Write of the Sole
11.15pm, £15
Meet in front of the Burgage Hall, Church Lane

If you want to write those special poems you have to do the legwork because, as we all know, the greatest rewards come to those prepared to walk the extra mile. Writing can be soul destroying: tonight it gets sole destroying too. Raw Edge has organised Extreme Writing Workshops for two years now, including a workshop in a mediaeval castle dungeon. Participants will walk along the ridge back towards Ledbury with writing stops along the way. The night will be led by writer, editor and publisher Dave Reeves, with support and navigation from Lucy Lomas. Both are experienced hillwalkers and Lucy is a first aider and holds an outdoor leaders award.

The walk is a maximum of 10 miles and walkers will need to have a reasonable level of walking fitness. It will end at around 6-7.00am depending on the participants themselves.

Sunday 13 July

Poetry Breakfast with Peter Wyton and Emily Wills
Under the market house
9.30am - 10.30am

Come and enjoy croissants and coffee under the market house and relish the poetry.

Seeds of Fire: Contemporary Poetry from the Other USA
Burgage Hall, £8
11.00am - 12 noon

Jon Andersen and Martín Espada are both poets who bear witness, as Pulitzer Prize finalist Martín Espada says, "I saw no contradiction being both a lawyer and a poet, since both, for me, involved advocacy." Their poems speak out on behalf of those without an opportunity to be heard, in the great tradition of Walt Whitman and Woody Guthrie. "Some poems call us to the barricades, some to despair. Some detail the way capitalism can poison even the most intimate aspects of our lives, while others record the bloody consequences of the American Way, from Palestine and Iraq, Vietnam and Chile to the beggars on the streets of Washington." Martín Espada is a major award-winning poet. He has published 14 books including Crucifixion in the Plaza De Armas, The Republic of Poetry, A Mayan Astronomer in Hells Kitchen and City of Coughing and Dead Radiators. Jon Andersen's first collection is called Stomp and Sing. (Fred Voss also features in this anthology, see event no. 64)

Market Theatre, £3 (adults go free)
10.30am - 11.30am

"Edutainment for all the family!" Each of the poems in Buzzing! introduce you to one of the extraordinary tiny creatures that live in our gardens. This fun celebration of garden creepy crawlies, by Anneliese Emmans Dean, is performed to a backdrop of photos, with especially composed music by acclaimed viola player John Rayson. It's amazing, it's amusing, it's Buzzing!

Luke Wright Poet and Man
Market Theatre, £6
2.00pm - 3.00pm

Mortgaged and married at 25, Luke Wright looks at what it takes to be a proper grown-up man in the 21st century. The result is "electrifying. He's like John Hegley crossed with Mike Skinner" and the verse is "visceral, poignant and riotously funny."

Poetry and Myth: David Morley and Marina Warner
Burgage Hall, £8
3.30pm - 4.30pm

Marina Warner is a hugely significant writer and thinker whose topics include myths, fairy tales, ghosts, monsters, the supernatural, women and childhood, explored across books and lectures such as From the Beast to the Blonde, No Go the Bogeyman and Managing Monsters: Six Myths of Our Time. She joins poet David Morley whose latest collection, The Invisible Kings, "is made up of the conflicts and mythologies of Morley's own Romany heritage, its various dark gods and underworlds." As Tim Liardet writes "Any universe is bound together by language; and Morley brings Romany vocabulary fizzing and crackling into our consciousness."

The Odyssey
Market Theatre, £8
6.45pm - 9.00pm

Having wowed Ledbury with Beowulf, Hugh Lupton and Daniel Morden return with the story of Odysseus' ten year journey from Troy and describe the systematic stripping away of a hero's wealth and warrior bravado until, at last, he returns home 'alone, unknown and under a strange sail'. Buffeted by the Fates, helped by indomitable owl-eyed Athene, Odysseus' voyage is the journey of Everyman from the cock-sureness of youth into the wisdom of age, from male ego into feminine mystery. This compulsive performance, by two of Britain's leading storytellers, is true to the momentum of a rattling good tale, the wry humour and poetic reflection, and the profound human observation of the Homeric vision.

For a full selection of the delights of Ledbury, click on the convenient link in the left margin.

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