NEWS: Newcastle Poetry Festival @ Northern Stage | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Sean O’Brien by Caroline Forbes

The North East has long been the inspiration for song and verse through the ages; if not of the flowery Wordsworthian ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ variety, then certainly of the realist, oft bleak, yet always heart-warming ‘Coaly Tyne’ sentiment. Newcastle Poetry Festival celebrates all that is great about this oft-overlooked form, presenting a bill at Northern Stage from Thursday 5th until Saturday 7th May that combines some impressive international names with fare from more local practitioners.

Central to the festival is the 50th anniversary of Briggflatts, a long-form work by the spectacularly-named Basil Cheesman Bunting. Evocative of craggy Cumbrian life, Briggflatts is by turns sinuous, erotic, inscrutable, profound and occasionally downright bonkers. Well worth celebrating, particularly considering Bunting’s Scotswood roots, and there is an annual prize to be given in his honour.

Politically-engaged poet Carolyn Forché will no doubt be talking about her work translating Palestinian poetry and her fifth collection, In The Lateness Of The World, from Hexham-based publishers Bloodaxe Books. Other Bloodaxe publishees to be found include Fleur Adcock, with her gentle vignettes of personal experience, and Sean O’Brien who brings wares of dour English afternoons and northern culture, plus there’s much more besides. For those of you who know your iambic pentameter from your drápa, a fine weekend of verse awaits.

Newcastle Poetry Festival takes place at Northern Stage, Newcastle from Thursday 5th until Saturday 7th May.

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