The very best in contemporary performance poetry are flocking to the largest Poetry Event in Europe - The Poetry Arena at Latitude Festival.
Altering many people's perceptions as to how poetry readings can be, this center of comedy sketches, Hip Hop, slam poets, raconteurs, spoken word, lyricism, storytelling, rappers and much much more, make this tent an essential part of the Festival.
At the Poetry Arena new talent is featured heavily with the addition of the ‘New Voices of Poetry’ section. This is an opportunity for up and coming Poets to showcase their talent on stage. Expect some of the country’s brightest poetry hopes at this year’s event.
Co programmed by Tania Harrison and poet Luke Wright, Latitude welcomes the following funny, satirical, hard-hitting, absurd, bizarre, and witty poets to this year’s event:
British poet, playwright and freelance writer Carol Ann Duffy, OBE and CBE, headlines the Poetry Arena. Carol Ann Duffy's poems provide voices for an extraordinary number of contemporary characters, including a fairground psychopath, a newborn baby, a literary biographer, disinherited American Indians, and even a ventriloquist's dummy. Her recent award-winning published work includes ‘Another Night Before Christmas’, ‘Moon Zoo Macmillan’, ‘Rapture Picador’ and ‘The Lost Happy Endings’. An exceptional addition to the weekend’s festivities
English poet and dramatist Adrian Mitchell's work demonstrates a powerful social conscience and he has been described as the "shadow poet laureate."
He has written large numbers of love poems and political poems, and frequently does public readings for Left wing causes. Satire is his speciality. Asked by the establishment to write a poem about the Prince of Wales and his special relationship with the people of Wales, he contributed the short masterpiece : "Royalty is a neurosis./ Get well soon."
Perhaps his best known poem is To Whom It May Concern, about the Vietnam war, which was first read in Trafalgar Square in 1964. A revised version, referring not only to Vietnam, but also to Iraq and Venezuela was read at the Royal Albert Hall on 25 September 2005 as part of the Poetry Olympics Twenty05 Festival, organised by Michael Horovitz.
Poet & stand-up John Hegley, provides a jugular serving of song, poetry and insect life with his new show ‘Letters To An Earwig’; a feast of spoken worms and broken promises. Musician Keith Moore, who regularly collaborates in the band John Hegley and The Popticians, will be joining John on stage; an act not to be missed.
In addition to his appearance over at the Literary Arena, Simon Armitage makes a welcomed return to the Poetry Arena; his headlining performance last year being one of the most talked about events of the weekend. The list of awards and prizes for his poetry and novels are seemingly endless and the depth of his prolific work make his slot undoubtedly a highlight of this year’s festival as well.
Another artist straddling both the Literary and Poetry Arenas, John Burnside will pitch up and perform some of his multi-award winning poetry. ‘The Hoop’, his first collection of poetry, won a Scottish Arts Council Book Award and other poetry collections include ‘Feast Days’, winner of the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and ‘The Asylum Dance’, winner of the Whitbread Poetry Award and shortlisted for both the Forward Poetry Prize and the T. S. Eliot Prize. Burnsides most recently collection of poetry, ‘The Good Neighbour’ was shortlisted for the 2005 Forward Poetry Prize (Best Collection).
The sharp tongued Attila the Stockbroker is high energy social surrealist songwriter and punk poet to boot. In his career he has performed over 2500 concerts, published four books of poems and released 29 recordings (some of which with his band ‘Barnstormer’). Expect readings from Attila the Stockbroker’s latest book of poems ‘My Poetic License’ and more.
The Poetry Arena wouldn’t be the same without curator Luke Wright, firm Latitude favourite and his sharp-witted poetry collective Aisle16. Luke is the true alternative laureate. The leading light of a new wave of stand-up poet taking the noble art by the scruff of the neck and turning it into something that can delight audiences at comedy clubs, indie gigs and literary festivals. Wright mixes up poetry and comedy as he cuts a swathe through the idiocies and obsessions of contemporary Britain and explains his plans to reform the most brown-nosed and out-dated job in poetry. Verbal and visual gags collide with his trademark acerbic verse; Wright is one of UK poetry's heavyweights.
Daljit Nagra whose debut collection ‘Look We Have Coming to Dover!’ relates to the experience of British-born Indians and often employs language that imitates the English spoken by Indian immigrants whose first language is Punjabi. Daljit whose work has been published in The Rialto, Poetry London and the Poetry Review and whose debut collection brought much positive media praise has won both the Forward Poetry Prize for best single poem ('Look We Have Coming to Dover!') and Best First Collection.
Using her winning combination of strong images and lyrics, Irish born Aiofe Mannix offers her collection of lyrically intense poetry with gentle, self-deprecating humour. Her poems have been published in various anthologies such as Short Fuse: The Global Anthology of New Fusion Poetry, The Book of Hope, In Our Own Words, 100 Poets Against The War and Gargoyle as well as numerous magazines and e-zines.
Local boy Joe Dunthorne is a graduate of the Creative Writing Masters at UEA, where he was awarded the Curtis Brown Prize. His poetry has been featured in The Guardian, on Channel 4, BBC Radio 3 and his
short fiction has been read on Radio 4. Dunthorne’s debut novel ‘Submarine’ is to be published in five languages this spring. See what all the fuss is about at Latitude!
The Sunday Times have described them as “Highlights of the spoken word scene. Created for a new breed of British poetry.” Aisle16 have become one of the most sought after poetry acts in the UK. The collective now including Luke Wright, Ross Sutherland, Joel Stickley and Chris Hicks (who all perform solo as well as in Aisle16 started their humble beginnings in running a poetry club above a communist theme pub. From their they have headlined the UK’s major spoken-word events (Apples & Snakes, Cheltenham Festival, Manchester Poetry Festival), and captivated crowds at Latitude for the last two years.
Their performances are nothing less than brilliant so make sure you get a prime spot in the Poetry Arena for their award-winning recitals. “I refuse to perform with them anymore because they make me look like a c**t.” John Cooper Clarke
Phill Jupitus, who whilst best known for his stand up, Radio and Television appearances, he started his career as Porky The Poet – a performance Poet with political undertones. Phill will be performing some of his best Poems which mix his animated and comical personality with more serious issues.
The comic, bizarre and wonderful Teen Angst will take Latitude by storm. Dubbing itself as a celebration of ‘really bad’ poetry, Teen angst is a hilarious collection of hideous poems people wrote as teenagers put together by Sara Bynoe who will be coming over from Canada especially to perform at Latitude
Irish born poet, writer and promoter Niall O’Sullivan with his original voice, and a keen eye for comic irony has become a 20th Century poetry bestseller with his collections ‘You’re Not Singing Anymore’ and ‘Ventriloquism for Monkeys’
Aisle16’s Joel Stickley who has not only won the Glastonbury slam but who has performed across the air-waves and been published in many poetry publications provides Latitude with his unique ability to twist the narrative and to turn the obscure into the profound is outstanding.
Throughout the weekend, the Poetry Arena will also play host to the beat-boxing veteran of the spoken word scene and slam poetry champion John Berkavitch; the award winning childlike, awkwardly funny character, Rachel Pantechnicon; winner of the BBC 3 'TV Slam; Kat Francois who’s strong reputation as a fearsome performer saw her become the first winner of the BBC 3 'TV Slam Poets' show held in October 2004; fiction crew-member and writer and performer, Tim Clare who presented the Channel 4 series 'How To Get A Book Deal', promoting his first novel, ‘Joshu Replied’. Spouting filthy hyperkinetic doggerel from what reason insists must be his mouth, he continues to baffle and appall audiences all over the UK.
Founding member of the live poetry collective Aisle16, winner of the North v South, the North-West Second’s Out Slam and the UK v Canada Slam, Ross Sutherland is a performance poet master. He is currently writing a thesis on computer-generated poetry and you can expect a preview of his new material at this year’s Latitude. And another Aisle16 member appearing at Latitude is the sweeter than an A-bomb on Nike Town and card-carrying member of the cynic’s inquisition Chris Hicks with his staggering combination of narrative and big finales at 300 mph.
With celebrated poems such as ‘Kevin’s an ‘erbert’ and ‘Never Buy Drugs at a Festival’ amongst his repertoire Byron Vincent has taken the UK poetry scene by storm and is a welcomed addition to the Poetry Arena. Joining him is stand-up poet, armchair revolutionary and recumbent rocker, Elvis McGonagall; Dave Morgan will present Hovis In Wonderland - a tribute to the late, great Hovis Presley and the writings of the iconic Bolton performer who filled the space between stand-up comedy, alternative cabaret and performance poetry before his untimely death in 2005
The four-person strong Hip Hop inspired A Poem Inbetween People perform their “poetry for the masses”; Yanny Mac’s and his pikey poetry was brilliant fun at last year’s Latitude and this year he returns with a new performance as a Domestic Goddess; South London’s spoken word artist and illustrator Dockers MC who’s poetry boast a treasury of words, feeding her audiences with monologues of characters she has created and selected by the Times newspaper as one the top 10 Literary talents for 2008.
Multi-talented 'Cockney Hell' poet Tim Wells who supported The Libertines back in the day comes to Latitude, alongside: Bristolian Nathan Filer - a talented fellow mixing Poetry and spoken word with sounds, music and film; joint winner of the 2004 Manchester Poetry Festival Slam Andy Craven-Griffiths with his wonderfully crafted poetry and spoken word performance; Norwich based poet Hannah Walker will showcase some more of her published work and fellow local boy John Osborne who graduated from the University of East Anglia in 2004 brings his performance poetry to the weekend.
Describing themselves as Up-beat, Up-tempo performance poetry to a disco beat, Project Adorno are a double act with a difference that are sure to raise a few eyebrows as well as a few smiles. The surreal punk, funk, catholic, electric comedy phenomenon that is Mik Artistik also comes to Latitude. Part comedian, singer, painter and performance artist Mik Artistik is unpredictable, unnerving and with the tendency to incorporate his audience in the act, impossible to ignore. Norwich local Josh Weller’s work oozes with honesty, poetry and sentiment and above all his acclaimed finely crafted pop songs. Josh made his name on the local scene with his band The Availables, and is definitely on the rise.
And finally, for now, Tim Turnball - writer in Residence at HMP Edinburgh – brings his award winning slam poetry; previous member of Aisle16, and punk romanticist Paul MacJoyce delivers his beefy rhymes and rhythms and experimental forms and words and expect a staggering lyrical maturity and social awareness from 20 year old Kate Tempest who has turned many heads in the UK already.
In the Poetry Arena new talent is featured heavily with the addition of the ‘New Voices of Poetry’ section. This is an opportunity for up and coming Poets to showcase their talent on stage. Last year acts included Croc E Moses, an extraordinary spoken-word performer who uses his native South African rhythms and 2006 winner of the Poetry Society's Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award and Londonwide Slam Championship, 13 year old Jamal Msebele.
Latitude continues its dedication to discovering the freshest new talent with it’s New Voices section. This year showcases some bright new poets that are ready to take your breath away.
Drew Taylor is the young Glaswegian with a sharp tongue. Jo Overfield is multi talented, boasting skills in writing, scriptwriting, playing guitar and poetry. Having lived the London life she now resides in Essex and is an organizer for Sundown poets events aswell as a freelance writer. This new local talent Patrick Lappin studied literature and creative writing at UEA and Kingston University and he now teaches poetry workshops aswell as performing his poems around Norwich. Singer songwriter Alex Sheppard spent the last year busking around Europe with guitar in hand and even graced the same stage as a ladyboy cabaret act in Thailand! The NME have called her an ‘anti-folk wonder’ so be sure to catch Sheppard’s tuneful harmonies in the Poetry Arena. Yemisi Blake has been writing poetry and short stories since the age of fifteen and is now the emerging Artist In Residence at the Southbank Centre. He's been commissioned by The Wellcome Trust to write poems based on Charles Darwin and his theories, and has been published in Rising Poetry Magazine. An incredible un-missable new talent.
Using songs, poetry and storytelling, Francesca Beard introduces us to characters from the Chinese horoscope in the Animal Olympics. It's 2008 and Rabbit, Dragon, Rat, Rooster, and many other animals, must compete in their own Chinese Olympic games. Who do you want to win? Come and learn about the characters and choose your favourite animal in this exciting kids show.
They will be joined by the young and talented Penny Sailor who is inspired by writers such as Roald Dahl, a name you will see on the British Hip Hop circuit Yam Boy will be mixing his musical flow with his highly praised lyrical ability, the observational poetry of Hull based Joe Hakim with poems such as ‘Spending Time At The Crime Scene’, Poeticat with poems based on experiences, dreams and best friends and completing the new voices line up will be the weird and wonderful story based poems of Ventriloquist.
With so many more acts to be announced Latitude’s Stand-up Poetry Tent is once again looking to be the hot spot of the festival.
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