Friday, 29 January 2016

Eat With Adonis

This is one of a series of previews for the forthcoming LitFest, which begins on 29 February and ends on 22 March. The printed brochure is on its way.

Ali Ahmad Said Esber, also known by the pen-name Adonis or Adunis (Arabic: أدونيس), is a Syrian poet, essayist and translator considered one of the most influential and dominant Arab poets of the modern era. He led a modernist revolution in the second half of the twentieth century, exerting a great influence on Arabic poetry comparable to T.S. Eliot's in the anglophone world. His dozen books of translation include the first complete Arabic version of Ovid’s Metamorphoses (2002). He lives in Paris, aged 86.

Hear some of his poems (in English), listen to music from the Arab world and  and sit down for a Lebanese meal. Mint's shawarmas are exceptionally good!

Listen to the poems in Arabic - -  الاستماع إلى قصائد بالعربية

£10 Mint Café, North Lane

Adonis wall poem in Leiden, Netherlands

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Superheroes at Spring Bank - with Poem Powers!

Sally Bavage writes:
James Nash and Jo Ward      Photo by Sally Bavage
Well, I could be describing the staff and visitors who worked so hard with a class of six-year-olds to get the Headingley LitFest poetry workshops and final performance assembly ready for the whole school, staff and a fantastic turnout from 40 visiting parents/grandparents to enjoy.

James Nash, local poet, has a superpower himself – the ability to get strong commitment, enthusiasm and joy from children in schools all over Leeds. Here, he was supported by Rachel Harkess, LitFest volunteer, both working with an age group new to LitFest. They got each of 27 young children, nervous and excited, to use a microphone with confidence to read out excerpts – or micropoems - from their original writing. Which they had typed out themselves to make reading out loud easier. At six. Crumbs. As James said: “I have loved working with my youngest-ever group. Their writing is less developed at this age, so the work involved more discussion and the ideas really flowed.”

Headteacher Michael Brawley was delighted that the poetry workshops “engage children with their learning and give them a love of poetry.” A sentiment heartily supported by the office staff, including office manager Miss Bonner: “Such a good thing; it inspires their creative writing which we then see them tackle more and more.” Lunchtime supervisor Juliette James agreed “it was lovely to see the poems they produced.” And as Margaret Ellis, on reception, commented: “We see the mundane every day, it's so good to see their imagination and confidence take off.”

Jo Ward, class 2 teacher, was also really really positive about the effect of the work that takes off way beyond the classroom. Like a superhero. Many of her class now wanted to be writers or poets, and they had felt privileged to be working with “a real writer” who taught them something about the process of writing.

Supermarket Trolley Man. Popcorn man. Diamond Girl. Chuckleman. Wolf Girl. And these superheroes had intriguing superpowers – shooting biscuits into milk, microwaving their enemies, capes that give you superspeed. Some funny, some beautiful, some expressive but all highly imaginative writing.

“This has inspired my son to use poetry and language; we have spent the past week writing limericks every day at home.” “This has made the children really interested in poem power. And, oh, the confidence with using the microphone!”

And to the children: “Best bit?” “Writing my own poem.” “Reading in front of the whole school.” “I enjoyed it all.”

Now that really IS super.

Spring Bank Primary School, Spring Road, Headingley, Leeds LS6 1AD

Friendly Fire on Saturday 5 March

This is one of a series of previews for the forthcoming LitFest, which begins on 29 February and ends on 22 March. Look out for the printed brochure, which is coming soon.

Bill Dean, recently married, along with his mates, decides to join a local Pals Regiment.  “All pals together”.  The lads go through basic training, ship off to France and find themselves in the hell of battle at the Somme. In the chaos Bill gets lost, or does he desert? And if he did, who will execute him?

Sound Company are seven men from the Lawnswood School Community Choir.  They tell the story script in hand, with songs from the First World War. Friendly Fire is based on a 1970 play, Killed July 17 1916 by the once-renowned Coventry Theatre in Education Company.  The performance will be followed by a discussion of the issues.

8pm  St Michael's Church Hall, St Michael's Road

Monday, 18 January 2016

A Song for my Father - Ian Clayton Tuesday 8 March

This is one of a series of previews for the coming LitFest, which begins on 29 February and ends on 22 March. Printed brochure is on its way!

Tuesday 8 March
Ian Clayton
A Song for my Father 
Partnership event with Leeds Libraries
                             Photo by Richard Kenworthy

What happens when you only know your dad when you're a young boy and then, one day, when you are middle-aged, he phones to say he'd like to see you again before he dies? In the space of one year, Ian Clayton makes a voyage around China, America and his father to ponder the familiar questions: Is blood thicker than water? Does it matter who teaches us so long as we learn? How do we let go of something that we never really had in the first place? With characteristic storytelling, wit and good humour, Ian Clayton reflects on a lifelong search for a father figure, skipping across the generations to weave a tale of how we relate, what we do with what we've got and what happens when some things just don't work out the way we want them to

Ian Clayton has written on subjects as varied as the environment, homelessness, jazz and rugby league. His stories are about making sense of where we come from. He is a keen advocate of local libraries and often writes and speaks in support of the important role they play in community life. In his spare time, Ian likes the odd pint or two in tap rooms. Join us to hear Ian talk about his book A Song for my Father.

6.30pm  Headingley Library

Friday, 15 January 2016

Andrew McMillan and Linda Black - Monday 21 March

This is one of a series of previews for the coming LitFest, which begins on 29 February and ends on 22 March. Printed brochure is on its way!

Andrew McMillan

In 2015 Andrew McMillan’s poetry collection physical won The Guardian First Book Award, the first to be awarded for a poetry collection. It also won the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award and won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. With three previous pamphlet collections published by Red Squirrel Press, his work also can be found in anthologies such as The Salt Book of Younger Poets, Best British Poetry 2013 and Best British Poetry 2015. Recent single poems can be found in the London Review of Books, The Financial Times, The Guardian andModern Poetry in Translation. Andrew describes his recent work as attempting to look at masculinity, the body and intimacy in a straightforward, unadorned way. Born and brought up in South Yorkshire he currently lectures in Creative Writing at Liverpool John Moores University and lives in Manchester.

Linda Black

Linda Black is a poet and an artist. She received the 2004/5 Poetry School Scholarship and won the 2006 New Writing Ventures Award for Poetry. The beating of wings (Hearing Eye, 2006) was the PBS Pamphlet Choice for spring 2007, when she also received an Arts Council Writer's Award. Her collections are Inventory and Root, (Shearsman 2008 & 2011) and The Son of a Shoemaker (Hearing Eye 2012). The latter consists of collaged prose poems based on the early life of Hans Christian Andersen, plus the author’s pen and ink illustrations. It was the subject of a Poetry Society exhibition in 2013. Her collection Slant is due for publication in spring this year.  She is co-editor of Long Poem Magazine.

Monday 21 March
7.15pm  Headingley Library, North Lane

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

LitFest 2016 preview - Sankakei

This is one of a series of previews for the coming LitFest, which begins on 29 February and ends on 22 March. Printed brochure is on its way!

Sankakei is a trio featuring poets Amina Alyal, Oz Hardwick and musician Michael Graham. The group formed whilst working with York-based Japanese drumming group Kaminari Taiko, in a dynamic performance of Japanese style words and music built upon the thundering beats of taiko drumming.       

In September 2013 the opportunity arose to play inside The Maze, a temporary art installation in Wakefield. Due to space limitations, Amina, Oz and Michael devised a more intimate show, and Sankakei – the name is a contraction of ‘sankakukei,’ the Japanese word for triangle – was born.  On an Eastern Breeze is a piece for two voices and the stringed instruments, koto and shamisen. Sankakei have performed it in bars, boats and chapels, as well as in more conventional concert settings. It has been released as a CD (Catchment Recordings), and the poems have been published as Close as Second Skins (IDP, 2015), earning Amina and Oz a place on the shortlist for Best Collaborative Work in the 2015 Saboteur Awards.

Sunday 6 March 3pm
House event          Book now with Richard Wilcocks : 0113 225 7397
Free entry, with collection - humanitarian relief for refugees