Durham Book Festival is the largest annual celebration of books and literature in the Northeast, with over fifty author talks, discussions, and workshops. Every year the Centre for Poetry and Poetics works closely with the Festival to organise readings and activities relating to poetry.
The Centre for Poetry and Poetics is responsible for bringing the Festival's poet laureate to Durham; for the duration of the Festival, one of the country's top authors works with the public, university students, and schools. Past laureates include:
As well as participating in events, laureates are invited to compose a poem inspired by their time in Durham. Past poems that you can listen to online include:
As part of our collaboration with the Durham Book Festival, postgraduate researchers are invited to review Festival events, helping both to publicise the work of the Festival and to capture the excitement and interest surrounding its poetry readings and talks. Below are reviews of all Centre for Poetry and Poetics events at Durham Book Festival, published via READ: Research English At Durham.
Michael O’Neill’s The Return of the Gift and Jamie McKendrick’s Anomaly are two compelling poetry collections. Though individual in style, both encapsulate the personal experiences that have shaped the mind of their authors. Aalia Ahmed and Lucia Scigliano attended their reflective reading at Durham Book Festival. Michael O’Neill’s reading incorporated a diverse selection from his... continue reading.
Simon Armitage describes himself as only an 'occasional birder', but his poetry is flocked with avian imagery and flighty themes. Dr Venetia Bridges spotted Armitage at Durham Book Festival, where he was appearing as part of our own Literary Birds conference. Although his main focus was poetry featuring birds, Simon Armitage’s reading at St Chad's... continue reading.
Leonard Cohen may be best-known as a musician, but he was inspired by and wrote poetry too. Keith James’s intimate performance at Durham Book Festival drew songs and literature together while bringing the audience - among them Emon Keshavarz - into tuneful chorus. The deeply spiritual aspects of Leonard Cohen’s life and the religious iconography... continue reading.
Lamanby is based on Jacob Polley’s award-winning poetry collection Jackself (2016) - but is definitely not a straightforward poetry reading. The written collection has morphed into a live event that mingles music, film, sound, and poetry into one enchanting, disorienting, and at times disturbing experience, as Hannah Piercy found when she watched, listened, and imagined... continue reading.
Andrew McMillan was the Durham Book Festival poet laureate in 2017. He performs a new poem, 'Coalfield Dementia', inspired by how towns and villages across the North East have come to terms with the aftermath of the pit closures. Communities are nostalgic for the past, but don't genuinely want to return to it; at the same... continue reading.
Dante may have lived 700 years ago, but the epic poem he wrote, The Divine Comedy, lives on through later writers. Three speakers with expertise ranging from Romantic poetry to world literature to modern writing were able to demonstrate the range of Dante's influence at a Durham Book Festival talk. Lucia Scigliano-Suarez reviews. In his fictional journey... continue reading.
Dante's Divine Comedy tracks his journey from hell to heaven - but Dante has now arrived at a new destination in Durham, partly through a forthcoming exhibition at Palace Green Library, and also through a Durham Book Festival event on Discovering Dante, which explored the poet’s enduring influence on today’s art, literature, and culture around the world. Aalia... continue reading.
Defining the North is an always-provocative challenge, but poetry - with its attention to language and voice - provides a fine form through which to explore and celebrate the region's identity. This was one idea behind the Northern Poetry Gala at Durham Book Festival, which brought together several of the North's newest and exciting writers... continue reading.
Ireland has produced some of the world's greatest poets over the years, but the Poetry Book Society brought three current, and female, Irish poets to the fore in a showcase at Durham Book Festival. Alison McManus was there to get a sense of how these recent writers fit into poetic and political history. 'As a... continue reading.
Sales of poetry books have been booming in recent years - not surprisingly given the wealth of innovative and inspiring workaround. The Poetry Book Society showcased three remarkably 'strong voices' before a sellout crowd at Durham Book Festival, including our reviewer Suzannah V. Evans. Three chairs sat on a grassy stage; long lights hung like bright icicles... continue reading.