Well versed festival

Gillian Clarke poet. 'Photos courtesy of Poetry Live.
Gillian Clarke poet. 'Photos courtesy of Poetry Live.

Sheffield’s status as a poetry city will come to the fore over the next 10 days.

Friday sees the launch of the second Sheffield Poetry Festival with more than 30 events celebrating local, national and international wordsmiths.

Literary and educational organisations, along with local poetry groups and individual poets, have got together to create a showcase of writing talent with a brief to be inclusive and ambitious in its scope.

The festival brings some major names to the city such as Gillian Clarke, Sinead Morrissey, Bernard O’Donoghue and Michael Symmons Roberts while presenting local poets alongside them. There are performance events and readings from national voices and small writers’ groups and several poetry publishers are taking the opportunity to promote poets in their stable. The programmed also includes a children’s event hosted by Sheffield Libraries, workshops, talks, film-poems, and a poetry walk. “The idea of community is so important in the world of poetry. We hope that this festival shows off the many strengths of Sheffield as a poetry city,” says Chris Jones, one of the-organisers.

After a launch on Friday evening at Firth Hall at the University of Sheffield, most events will be held at The Hubs, Sheffield Hallam University Student Union on Paternoster Row, or at Bank Street Arts.

The family event takes place on Saturday afternoon when David Harmer holds the Big Poetry Workshop in the Children’s Library.

Meanwhile in The Hubs on Saturday afternoon, The Flight is a programme of short poetry films forging new relationships between the moving image and the spoken word. Curated and introduced by Brian Lewis of Longbarrow Press. it includes contributions local poets Matthew Clegg, Rob Hindle and Chris Jones.

Former Derbyshire Poet Laureate River Wolton will share a platform on Saturday with Julia Corbus whose collection, The World’s Two Smallest Humans, was last year shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and the Costa Poetry Award.

On Sunday morning Rob Hindle will lead a poetry walk, Flights and Traverses, around Lady’s Bridge, Kelham Island and the Wicker, reading and discussing poems inspired by one-way journeys made at different points in Sheffield’s history.

Also on Sunday, PoetStars, a poetry slam will be fought out at Bank Street Arts.At an event called Uni-verse at Bank Street Arts on Wednesday poets and lecturers Chris Jones and Harriet Tarlo from Sheffield Hallam University and Ágnes Lehóczky from Sheffield University will be joined in readings by some of the students they teach.

The festival runs through to Sunday, June 9, when one of the last events is called Prose Poetry and Afternoon Tea when American poet Donna Stonecipher and Jane Monson, Cambridge-based writer, will discuss a form much neglected in the UK. It is at the Harland Cafe, and the programme notes: “As a genre that is still evolving, the prose poem can evoke a strong reaction, for or against; for all shades of opinion the traditional balm of tea, cake and sandwiches will be available.”

Tickets for the festival are available online at www.sheffieldpoetryfestival.com or on the door.