NEWS: T-Junction International Poetry Festival | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Joelle Taylor

Serving as a ‘linguistic intersection’ for poetry and literature lovers in the North East and beyond, T-Junction International Poetry Festival returns to Teesside from Thursday 14th until Sunday 17th April for its second outing. Their inaugural event in 2014 saw poets from as far afield as Zimbabwe, Syria and Serbia take part, and this year’s festival intends to build on their already stellar reputation for curating interesting and insightful events.

Kicking things off in style on Thursday 14th at The Empire, the Electric Kool-Aid Cabaret present their usual high quality calibre of artists, with an intense mixture of poetry, spoken word, live music and comedy from a range of international acts including local sharp-shooters Bob Beagrie and Andy Willoughby, plus guest performances from former UK slam champion Joelle Taylor; Karlis Verdins, researcher at the Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art at the University of Latvia; Finnish poet and writer Helianne Kallio and live music from much-loved quirky alt. rockers Shrug.

Revered as one of the most important poets working in the UK today, Tony Harrison makes an appearance at Teesside University’s Centuria Building on Friday 15th, reading from his work which includes poems about such diverse subjects as the 1984 Miners’ Strike, the hounding of Salman Rushdie, the wars in Iraq and Yugoslavia and the British monarchy.

Also on Friday 15th at The Python Gallery, local ‘outsider artist’ PA Morbid hosts The Black Light Engine Room, a night of spoken word and poetry from special guests including Syrian-born Amir Darwish, dramatist and biographer Steve Ely and many more.

T-Junction once again proves to be an intersection worth lingering at

Saturday 16th offers up and coming writers the opportunity to spend time with some professionals, as a poetry master class from teacher and translator Shazea Qurashi and Hungarian poet George Szirtes takes place at mima in the morning; also on Saturday morning, join Teesside’s own pied-piper poets Andy Willoughby and Bob Beagrie on a creative walk through the psycho-geography of central Middlesbrough.

Northbound, a collection of works celebrating 25 years of women poets in the North East, comes under the microscope at mima on Saturday afternoon, featuring poems about landscape both beautiful and harsh published by Darlington’s Vane Women collective. Also at mima on Saturday afternoon, Redcar poet Julie Hogg launches her latest book, Majuba Road published by Vane Women; while at Central Library guest poets discuss the social uses of poetry in a round-table discussion about poetry and social activism. On Saturday evening, back over at mima, enjoy an evening of sophisticated international readings from a host of artists from Jamaica to Pakistan, Bosnia to Palestine.

Discussing exile, emigration and displacement on the morning of Sunday 17th, join in a round-table talk about identity at mima; and later that day Northumberland Wildlife Trust CEO Mike Pratt launches his new collection of prose poems, A Recipe For A Snow Bunting’s Nest. In the evening at Teesside University’s Student Union, local imprint Smokestack launch works by Andy Willoughby, whose Between Stations is a mock epic beat journey from post-industrial Teesside to deepest Siberia, and Bob Beagrie’s Leasungspell, a narrative poem set in seventh century Northumbria.

With such a wide and varied programme, and offering voices from far flung corners of the world, T-Junction once again proves to be an intersection worth lingering at.

T-Junction International Poetry Festival takes place across various venues in Middlesbrough from Thursday 14th until Sunday 17th April.


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