Friday 2 July 2021
Festival Launch including a special pre-recorded reading and conversation with Margaret Atwood
5pm – 5.30pm, Zoom, £5, Tickets here
Hear Margaret Atwood reading and in conversation, hosted by Ledbury Poetry Critic Stephanie Sy-Quia, whose debut Amnion is forthcoming. Margaret Atwood’s most recent collection, Dearly, harnesses the experience of a lifetime into poems that are wry and entertaining. Dearly is dedicated to Atwood’s partner, Graeme Gibson, who accompanied her to Ledbury Poetry Festival not long before he died in 2019, after a struggle with dementia. This unique recording will not be made available outside of the launch.
Valzhyna Mort and Victoria Chang, chair Neil Astley
6pm – 7pm, Zoom, £5, Tickets here
After her mother died, poet Victoria Chang refused to write elegies. Rather, she distilled her grief during a feverish two weeks by writing scores of poetic obituaries for all she lost in the world. In Obit, longlisted for the 2020 National Book Award in Poetry, Chang writes of “the way memory gets up after someone has died and starts walking.” These poems reinvent the form of newspaper obituary to both name what has died (“civility,” “language,” “the future,” “Mother’s blue dress”) and the cultural impact of death on the living.
In her book of letters to the dead, the prize-winning poet Valzhyna Mort relearns how to mourn those erased by violent history. With shocking, unforgettable lyric force, Valzhyna Mort’s Music for the Dead and Resurrected confronts the legacy of violent death in one family in Belarus. In these letters to the dead, the poet asks: How do we mourn after a century of propaganda? Can private stories challenge the collective power of Soviet and American historical mythology?
Jorie Graham hosted by Sarah Howe
8pm -9pm, Zoom, £5, Tickets here
Celebrated American poet Jorie Graham, will read from her latest collection Runaway and chat about her work with poet Sarah Howe. Graham is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including PLACE, which won the Forward Prize for Best Collection and The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994, which won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. ‘For 30 years Jorie Graham has engaged the whole human contraption — intellectual, global, domestic, apocalyptic’ (New York Times).
Sarah Howe is a Hong Kong-born British poet, academic and editor. Co-founder, with Sandeep Parmar, of the Ledbury Poetry Critics scheme. Her first collection of poems is Loop of Jade.