The dates for next year’s Ledbury Poetry Festival 2020 are 3 -12 July
Special Moments from Ledbury Poetry Festival 2019!
The opening event of the 2019 Festival offered the opportunity to listen to the poets shortlisted for the Ledbury Forte Poetry Prize for Second Collections introduced by the judges, Linda Gregerson and Lachlan Mackinnon. The winner was announced at this event, which no doubt added to the excitement of the occasion, but what makes this event special is the range and quality of the poetry.
Ledbury Poetry Festival gratefully acknowledges the generosity of Olga Polizzi whose contribution makes the Ledbury Forte Poetry Prize possible.
Below Linda Gregerson reflects on their shortlist and give insight into why these collections were selected:
Adam O’Riordan, A Herring Famine
Notable for their breadth of compassion and depth of historical imagination, the fine lyrics in A Herring Famine are also emphatically of their present moment. O’Riordan is a master of cadence and immediacy: his uses of musical echo are at once consolatory and subtly unsettling.
A. K. Blakemore, Fondue
Uninhibited, uncensored, dazzling in its varieties of rhetorical address, Fondue would seem to have reinvented the lyric from scratch. A. K. Blakemore is a magician of shimmering concision, fierce intellect, and disarming juxtapositions. She dares us to be joyful, and at risk.
Danez Smith, Don’t Call Us Dead
“Do you know what it’s like to live / on land who loves you back?” In the extended sequence that launches Don’t Call Us Dead, Danez Smith imagines just such a land for the black boys who have died by violence in our time: the violence of vigilantism, of police brutality, of stigmatized poverty and illness, of despair. From a bitter landscape, this unblinking sequence manages to wrest a celebration of black lives.
James Womak, On Trust: A Book of Lies
True to its title, On Trust: A Book of Lies explores the metamorphic landscapes of shifting allegiance and unstable epistemologies. Writing a cunning jazz line in one poem and a supple passage of lyric prose in the next, Womak matches limberness of method to his ambitious subject: the shifting instabilities of character, circumstance, and faith.
Rory Waterman, Sarajevo Roses
Very few poets can bring to the lives of others the same devout attention we tend to bestow upon ourselves: Rory Waterman is just such a poet. Whether their site of meditation is an abandoned colliery or a much-marketed urban vista, the exquisite lyrics of Sarajevo Roses are imbued with mindfulness. Suppleness of poetic line matches suppleness of spirit.
David Tait, The Aqi
The AQI, or Air Quality Index, is at once a measure of our depredations and our dependency, phenomena that David Tait meticulously traces throughout his wide-ranging new collection of poems. A suite of poems set in China sets the immanent unliveability of our planet in stark relief; an elegiac sequence to the victims of a hate crime in Orlando forges a powerful tribute to love.
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