The UK’s longest running poetry festival returns to Stratford-upon-Avon from 18 – 25 June. Inspired by world events and international cultures, this year’s festival takes the theme of ‘Crossing Borders’, with world-class poets and artists reflecting contemporary issues of conflict, immigration and integration.
Organised by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the 64th Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival presents an exciting line-up of readings, performances and workshops from award-winning artists including Simon Russell Beale, Oliver Ford Davies, Inua Ellams and Jessica Mehta.
The festival launches on 18 June, on Father’s Day, with a special programme of poetry for Dads featuring the official launch of the much loved Shakespearian actor Oliver Ford Davies’s new book, Shakespeare’s Fathers and Daughters. Oliver will present his work and take part in a recital with actress Mariah Gale. They have previously played a father and daughter (Polonius and Ophelia) in Hamlet and will explore why Shakespeare was so obsessed with fathers and daughters.
Families and youngsters can also enjoy a storytelling and poetry workshop with Adam and Charlotte Guillian, authors of the hilarious best-selling picture book, School for Dads – a perfect family activity for Father’s Day.
This year’s Poet in Residence (in collaboration with the Hosking Houses Trust) is the award-winning Cherokee poet, Jessica Mehta from Oregon. Much of Jessica’s writing is centered on her self-identity as a Native American woman who ‘passes’. Join Jessica for a reading, commentary and discussion about what it means to be a native writer today and explore the history, arts, works and struggles of indigenous communities in America.
Other festival highlights include:
- Simon Russell Beale and Alexandra
Gilbreath performing a recital about how poets and writers respond to war,
refugees and crossing borders: All the
Business of War, a special programme devised by poet and Shakespearian academic
Roger Pringle. The evening features poems of several centuries and cultures
which have responded to wars, distant and recent, and its consequences. Hear
about the struggles, heartache, heroism, excitement, grief and triumph in this
absorbing and varied recital.
- Inua Ellams’s highly acclaimed show
An Evening with an Immigrant. Packed
with poems, stories and anecdotes, poet and playwright Inua will tell his
experience as an immigrant, with tales of escaping fundamentalist Islam in
Nigeria, performing solo shows at the National Theatre and drinking wine with
the Queen - all while being without a country to belong to or a place to call
- Join multi award-winning Kurdish
poet and journalist, Bejan Matur, in conversation with Erica James of the
Poetry Translation Centre for an evening of readings and tales about the
struggles of the Kurdish people. Her poetry engages directly with the issues
she faced and yet there is also a mysticism in her writing, a closeness to
nature and embracing mythology.
- Celebrate Midsummer’s eve around a bonfire
in the magical grounds of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. Follow the tradition of
singing songs and telling stories around the fire, and hear extracts from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and related
poetry. Don’t forget to pack a picnic blanket.
- Turn your favourite poem into a work of art. Join artist Clare Booth and bring to light the imagery within your chosen poem in this artistic workshop which focuses on pastel colouring and drawing techniques. Come along with your favourite poem, rolled up sleeves and an open mind.
Dr. Paul Edmondson, Poetry Festival Director and Head of Research at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust said, “Poetry nourishes us through all the seasons of life, and this year we wanted the festival to reflect something of our own troubled times. Wherever people are, and however displaced they are, poetry and stories will be part of their daily bread. This year, the UK’s longest-running poetry festival, based in the town of one of the greatest of all poets, calls us to feel solidarity with world events. We are presenting this, too, in the context of the 70th anniversary of the formation of a new India and Pakistan, and in the on-going centenary of the First World War. Shakespeare always provides a great occasion for international conversations and connections, and he’s our backdrop for this truly internationally-focussed festival.”
The 64th Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival runs from 18 – 25 June 2017. For the full programme and to book tickets, visit www.shakespeare.org.uk/poetryfestival. Tickets can also be purchased from any of the Shakespeare houses.