Bristol Poetry Institute at the Lyra Poetry Festival

The Bristol Poetry Institute is looking forward to Lyra, the Bristol Poetry Festival, taking place between 13 and 22 March. We are proud to have helped organise a number of the Festival’s events, including:


Simon Armitage | Live at Bristol Poetry Festival

13 March 18.00

Wills Memorial Building


Romantic Bristol Walking Tour

14 March 12.00

OR 22nd March 12.00

meet at Wills Memorial Building


Prose Poetry: Performance + Open Mic

14 March 17.00

Wills Memorial Building (Old Council Chamber)


Romantic Bristol Tour: Coleridge & Wordsworth

15 March 12.00

meet at Wills Memorial Building


Maths and Poetry Workshop

16 March 17.30

Fry Building (Room G13)


Romantic Bristol Walking Tour: Women Writers

21 March 12.00

meet at Wills Memorial Building


The full programme is available here.

Bristol Project Celebrating the City’s Poets and Poetry Wins Funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund

Chatterton’s Holiday Afternoon, Engraved by William Ridgway after a picture by William Benjamin Morris that was published in The Art Journal, 1875., BRL B28436 SR50

A group of Bristol projects celebrating the city’s poetic past, present and future has been awarded £87,700 funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. A Poetic City is a programme of activity run by organisations including The Bristol Poetry Institute, Lyra poetry festival, Glenside Hospital Museum, the University of Bristol, Bristol Libraries, Bristol Culture, the RWA and St Mary Redcliffe. Poets from across the country, as well as poets from the city, will be writing and performing new works, guided poetry walks will explore different parts of the city and a free comic will be produced, telling the story of Bristol’s famous poets. The project has been inspired by Bristolian poet Thomas Chatterton, who was born in 1752 and inspired generations of poets after him.

The project runs until the end of 2020 and includes:

  • Writers in residence being based a public sites across the city.
  • New poetry commissions being written by 10 poets, performed and shared across the city.
  • The new app, exploring the city and it’s connections with poetry and poets.
  • The story of Bristol’s poetic history, and one of the city’s most famous poets, Thomas Chatterton, told in comic-book style and distributed across the city.
  • Walking tours of the city led by academics and poets.
  • Poets working with local communities, young and old, through St Mary Redcliffe Church.
  • A new poem specially written by the City Poet, Vanessa Kisuule.
  • A series of lectures exploring young people, arts and mental health.
  • Special events across the city as part of Bristol Open Doors (
  • More activity and events will be added to the programme as it is developed over the coming months.

Find out more on Twitter: #BristolPoeticCity

Poetry, Plagiarism and Other Matters

The poet and artist, Ira Lightman

Date: 17 April 2018, 6.15 PM – 17 April 2018, 7.15 PM

Speaker: Ira Lightman
Venue: LR1, Arts Complex, 3-5 Woodland Road

Ira Lightman is known to many, and feared by a few, as the great ‘plagiarism sleuth’ of contemporary poetry; the results of his investigations are chronicled in the Guardian and elsewhere. Ira has made public art throughout the North East and also in the West Midlands and the South West. He made a documentary on Ezra Pound for Radio 4 last year. He is a regular on Radio 3’s The Verb and has been profiled on Channel 4. He is a professional storyteller. He won the Journal Arts Council Award for “innovative new ways of making art in communities” for his project The Spennymoor Letters. His new chapbook is called “Goose”. He has been described by George Szirtes as “Harpo Marx meets Rilke”.

Contact information

For further information please contact

Another way for poems to speak

Over the past month, ‘Poems for…the Wall’, hosted by the Bristol Poetry Institute, held an exhibition at Beacon House. The following is a reflection on the exhibit by Rogan Wolf.

A busy gathering place for students, staff and visitors from all over the world is not where you’d normally expect to find an exhibition of poster-poems.

But if all those poems were bilingual, with many different languages represented, written originally by poets often famous in their own countries? That might be quite an eloquent statement, quite apart from what the words themselves were saying.

The collage of photographs here records a small exhibition of bilingual poem-posters that has recently been showing in a public setting managed by Bristol University. The exhibition went up under the stewardship of the university’s Bristol Poetry Institute.

Half way up the collage, towards the left, you can see a background photograph of all the poems together displayed on the wall. Four of them are printed on paperboard at A3 size, the rest on card at A4 size.

Although they are too small to be read here, it may be of interest to note that there are ten different languages represented in the group picture : Arabic, Dutch, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Japanese, Latin, Mandarin, Punjabi, Tigrinyi.

I have slightly enlarged five of the languages for this collage : Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese and two ages of Mandarin. One of the Mandarin pair  – by Gu Cheng  – was written approximately a thousand years after the other – by Li Bai. And the poem by Li Bai was almost certainly painted, not written.

And when Li Bai positioned his letters, he started at the top and from the right and his eye ran downwards and leftwards. By the time Gu Cheng was writing, a thousand years later, he saw his writing in the same way as the westerner does – horizontally and rightwards from a margin on the left.

And for those Westerners who don’t know, please note that the Arabic and the Hebrew you can see in the picture above here are both written and read from the right.

The poet David Hart once said of the “Poems for the wall” project : “we have the chance here to open people’s lives to each other.”

Further information

For further information about the Poems for…the Wall project see: For more on the collaboration between the BPI and Poems for…the Wall see here.

Danny Karlin to give 2016 Clarendon Lectures

Danny Karlin at the site of Henry James’s house in Boston, MA, 2015.

Daniel Karlin, Winterstoke Professor of English and founding Director of the Bristol Poetry Institute, will give the prestigious Clarendon Lectures at the University of Oxford this Michaelmas term.

Professor Danny Karlin will give the career-defining Clarendon Lectures at the University of Oxford later this term.

In delivering the Claredon Lectures, Danny Karlin will join a line of exemplary writers and critics to have received the honour. Previous Clarendon lecturers include, Frank Kermode, Stephen Greenblatt, Elaine Showalter, Christopher Ricks, Margaret Atwood, Stanley Fish and Quentin Skinner.

The subject of Danny Karlin’s Clarendon lectures will be ‘Street Songs’. The lectures will expatiate around the appearence of street songs and street singers in literary texts, such as Proust’s narrator hearing the cris de Paris in La Prisonniere, the one-legged sailor growling out ‘The Death of Nelson’ in Ulysses, or the old woman singing outside Regent’s Park tube station in Mrs Dalloway. The lectures will concentrate on how authors use street songs in their work.

Danny Karlin is known particularly for his work on the poetry of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. His first book, The Courtship of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett (1985), brought about a decisive shift in the way the ‘myth’ of the two poets’ courtship was viewed, and is cited as a standard work in almost every subsequent biography and critical study. Browning’s Hatreds (1993) exemplifies his critical practice, based on the close reading of literary works, richly contextualised by reference to biography and to literary and linguistic history. His most recent monograph, The Figure of the Singer (2013), demonstrates the range of scholarship for which Professor Karlin is celebrated among his peers.

Textual scholarship is another major interest. With John Woolford and, latterly, Joe Phelan, Professor Karlin has edited four volumes of Browning’s poetry for the acclaimed Longman Annotated English Poets series, with a further volume in preparation; a substantial paperback selection appeared in 2010. He has also edited a successful selection of Browning’s poems for Penguin. His knowledge of the wider field of Victorian poetry is evidenced in the Penguin Book of Victorian Verse (1997), which includes the work of 147 poets, many of whom had never been anthologised. Other editions include Kipling’s Jungle Books, Rider Haggard’s She, and, the first fully annotated Scholarly edition of Edward FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. Most recently he published a selection of Kipling’s Stories and Poems for Oxford University Press (2016).

Professor Karlin has a long-standing interest in American literature; he gave the Chatterton Lecture at the British Academy in 1987 on Walt Whitman’s Civil War poems, and has published on Bob Dylan (whom he has nominated for the Nobel Prize, and who he still thinks should get it). His edition of Henry James’s The Bostonians will shortly be available from Cambridge University Press.  He is a fluent French speaker, and in 2005 published Proust’s English, an innovative study of Proust’s use of English words and phrases.

Besides his continuing work on the Browning edition, Professor Karlin regularly publishes on British and American literature of the long nineteenth century, with a concentration, especially but not exclusively, on poetry.  Recent essays include, ‘The Owl and the Pussy-cat’ and other poems of love and marriage’ and ‘Editing Poems in Letters’. During his career, Professor Karlin has made a point of engaging with research supervision across the gamut of English Literature from the Early Modern period onwards. In his time at Bristol he has supervised PhD projects on P. B. Shelley, Victorian poetry and fiction, and nineteenth-century American literature. His current research supervision includes a PhD on Bob Dylan by Craig Savage.


Further information

The 2016 Clarendon Lecture series will take place at the University of Oxford on the following days:

  • 8 November 2016
  • 10 November 2016
  • 15 November 2016
  • 17 November 2016

A full list of Danny Karlin’s publications can be found here.

Debut Poetry Collection from William Wootten

William Wootten, Co-Director of the Bristol Poetry Institute and Lecturer in Poetry and Creative Writing, will next month launch his first collection of poetry, You Have A Visitor.

We are delighted to announce the publication of William Wootten’s debut collection of poetry You Have a Visitor, which will be launched in Bristol next month.

You Have a Visitor is a book of songs and stories.  Intricately constructed, and employing a range of tight metres, stanza shapes and rhyme schemes, the poems delight in making use of traditional possibilities of English verse, and are, in the case of the lyrics, highly musical.

William Wootten’s poems have appeared in magazines including PN ReviewPoetry Review, the Spectator and theTimes Literary Supplement. He is also the author of the critical study, The Alvarez Generation: Thom Gunn, Geoffrey Hill, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath and Peter Porter.

Further information

Join us for the launch of You Have a Visitor on Thursday 10 March, 17.15 in LR1, University of Bristol, 3-5, Woodland Road, Bristol, BS8 1TB. The event will be free and will be followed by a drinks reception.

Title: You Have A Visitor
Author: William Wootten
Published: 01 April 2016
ISBN: 978-1-905208-33-3
Pages: 70