The BPI Alejandra Pizarnik Reading Group

Update: this reading group has been moved to April 2022.

The Bristol Poetry Institute is looking forward to hosting this reading group addressing the works of Argentine poet Alejandra Pizarnik, to take place in September. Please see the poster below for more information or reach out to the organiser, Dr Laura Jansen.

THE ALEJANDRA PIZARNIK READING GROUP Faculty of Arts Organised by Laura Jansen Under the auspices of the Bristol Poetry Institute Fridays 3:30-5pm September 3, 10, 19 and 24, 2021 With the participation of poets Alice Oswald & Phoebe Giannisi ‘There is an aura of almost legendary, classical prestige that surrounds the life and work of Alejandra Pizarnik.’ César Aira (1998) During her short life, Alejandra published eight small books that have earned her a fundamental place in poetry in Spanish. Her forerunners were classical Greek and Roman poets, Arab-Andalusian poets of the Middle Ages [...] Rimbaud and the French surrealists. Eventually, her poetic vocabulary became unique: echoes of [these traditions] can be heard in the background of her writing, but they are never allowed a full presence. Alberto Manguel (2015) Postgraduates and Postdoctoral researchers interested in twentieth-century writers are warmly invited to attend this online interdisciplinary reading group, hosted by Laura Jansen of the Department of Classics and Ancient History in partnership with the Bristol Poetry Institute. Our focus this year is on the oeuvre of Argentine poet Alejandra Pizarnik (Buenos Aires 1936-72), whose writings include poems, diaries, correspondence and critical essays. We will be exploring a selection of texts from works such as Diana’s Tree/ Árbol de Diana (1962), Works and Nights/ Los trabajos y noches (1965), Extracting the Stone of Madness/ Extracción de la piedra de locura (1968), and A Tradition of Rupture: Selected Critical Writings (2019). The texts will be circulated in English, while readings of short poems during the sessions will be performed in English, as well as in Spanish and French, the two languages in which Pizarnik wrote. Participants are expected to commit to regular online attendance of the four sessions. The group will meet on Fridays, 3:30-5pm, starting on September 3, 2021. It is expected that the reading group will be predominantly for postgraduate and postdoctoral scholars, although senior scholars are also very welcome. All those interested in attending should get in touch with the organiser by July 1, 2021: laura.jansen@bristol.ac.uk

Translation workshop with Leo Boix featuring poetry by Diana Bellessi

Photo of Diana Bellessi

Date and time: 15 and 22 June, 18:30-20:00 BST

Cost: pay what you can

Register: via Eventbrite

In collaboration with the Poetry Translation Centre, we are very proud to present a workshop on Spanish poetry, focussing on the work of Argentine poet Diana Bellessi. A guide translation is provided by the guest translator so there is no need to know the language being translated, simply sign up and bring your love of language.

This online workshop will take place over two 90-minute sessions on Zoom over two consecutive Tuesdays. This format will let us spend time with a single poetic voice. The workshops will be led by translator Leo Boix.

Diana Bellessi is a poet from the province of Santa Fé in Argentina. Born in 1946, she has become one of the foremost voices in Latin America, her many awards include: 1993 Guggenheim Fellowship in poetry, 1996 Antorchas Foundation fellowship, 2004 Premio Konex, Merit Award, 2007 Fondo Nacional de las Artes, lifetime award in poetry. She is considered to be the godmother of feminist / LGBTQI+ / Lesbian poetry in Argentina and her work demonstrates a deep commitment to progressive politics, ecological conservation and the social condition of the working class in Argentina and Latin America. Her poetry is seen as groundbreaking for its depiction of Lesbian desire and has exerted a strong influence on prominent poets and writers from the 80s and 90s through to the present day.

Leo Boix is a bilingual Latino British poet, translator and journalist based in the UK. He has published two collections in Spanish, Un lugarpropio (2015) and Mar de noche (2017), and was included in many anthologies, such as Ten: Poets of the New Generation (Bloodaxe) and Why Poetry? (Verve Poetry Press). His English poems have appeared widely including in PoetryThe Poetry ReviewModern Poetry in TranslationPNReview and The Rialto. Boix is a fellow of The Complete Works Program and co-director of ‘Invisible Presence’, a scheme to nurture new young voices of Latino poets in the UK. His debut collection of English poetry, Ballad of a Happy Immigrant, will be published by Chatto and Windus in 2021.

For more information, head over to Eventbrite.

Bristol by Heart Poetry Recitation Contest: Metre and Memorisation Project

The Metre and Memorisation Project, funded by the Brigstow Institute at the University of Bristol, announces the Bristol by Heart poetry recitation contest in collaboration with Poetry by Heart and the Bristol Poetry Institute.

Details of the Prize

Contestants are required to recite a poem from memory.  Poems chosen should be poems or extracts from poems of between fourteen and forty lines in length and in English.  All poems must be published and not the work of participants. Beyond this, the choice of poems is up to students and their teachers.  Poems can, for instance, be poems that are also being studied as part of regular school work, such as poems required for GCSE.  Alternatively, they can be selected from the wide range of suitable poems on the Poetry by Heart website, or indeed from further afield.  Why not choose poems that reflect Bristol’s diverse population or poems from its rich poetic history? Participants choosing a poem not on the Poetry by Heart website are asked to include a copy of the text of the poem learned along with their entry.

There are four age categories: 7+, 11+, 14+, 16+.  Heats will be held in participating schools. The process of judging these heats will be left up to the individual school: judges can be teachers, the participants’ peer group, or a combination of two.  The best 3-5 performances in each age category will then be uploaded onto the Poetry by Heart website for consideration by the judges.  Students whose school / class is not participating in the competition can enter independently, providing that their entry is approved and uploaded by a teacher or parent/legal guardian.

We would encourage teachers and parents to make learning and performing the poems as enjoyable and inclusive a process as possible and to talk about different methods of memorisation. The judges will be looking for a high quality poetry recital rather than a dramatic interpretation, and we recommend that poems are performed in the reader’s natural accent.  Further Tips on poetry recital can be found on the Poetry by Heart website.  All participating students, whether shortlisted by the schools or not, are invited to fill in a questionnaire about their experience of memorisation.  The data from these forms will be anonymised and used to help the Metre and Memorisation project into its research into the psychological effects of poetry memorisation.  Three of the contestants who complete these forms will be chosen at random to receive a £10 book token.

There are four age categories: 7+, 11+, 14+, 16+

The Deadline for entries to be uploaded is 5pm on Friday, 2nd July.

Winners in each category will receive a £50 book token plus a £25 book token for their school libraries.  The two runners up in each category will receive a £15 book token plus a £10 book token for their school libraries.

The Competition is open to children and young people in Bristol and the Surrounding Area. All schools in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are eligible. If your school is from further afield and would like to take part, please contact the organisers who will make a discretionary decision.

Further details about how enter are available on the Learning Zone at poetrybyheart.org.uk.

Reading and Discussion with Janet Hendrickson and Rebecca Kosick

Image of the book covers.

The Bristol Poetry Institute will host, with the Wild Detectives Bookstore in Dallas, TX, this engaging conversation and reading featuring translator Janet Hendrickson and BPI co-director Rebecca Kosick. The event will take place Thursday 14 January from 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM GMT.

Rebecca Kosick and Janet Hendrickson will discuss how writing and translation are inseparable practices during this transatlantic reading from their recent books. Rebecca Kosick’s Labor Day (Golias Books, 2020) is a serial poem set in the postindustrial US Midwest that explores the landscapes of the author’s childhood through the distorted lens of memory. Janet Hendrickson’s Treasure of the Castilian or Spanish Language (New Directions, 2019), an experimental translation of a seventeenth-century dictionary by Sebastián de Covarrubias, turns the original into a series of prose poems. Laura Jansen of the University of Bristol will moderate the conversation.

For more information and to book your place, head over to Eventbrite.

Poetry Translation Workshop with Assiya Issemberdiyeva and Liz Berry

In partnership with the Poetry Translation Centre and the Embassy of Kazakhstan in the UK, we are pleased to be hosting a translation workshop on Tuesday 26 January 2021, 18:30-20:30 GMT. This session exploring Kazakh poetry will focus on the work of Yerlan Junis. Junis’s lyrical verses are highly regarded by his literary colleagues for their unexpected surrealist images and expression of human emotions. The session will be led by poet Liz Berry and guest translator Assiya Issemberdiyeva.

This online workshop will take place over Zoom in one two-hour session. In order to make this workshop experience as accessible as possible, pricing is pay-what-you-want. Knowledge of the source language is welcome but not required; the poet/translator-facilitators will support you in crafting your translation.

Follow the link to Eventbrite to book your place now.

National Poetry Day: Poetry Karaoke

National Poetry Day is celebrated each year on the first Thursday of October. To mark the occasion the Bristol Poetry Institute held a session of Poetry Karaoke hosted on Zoom.

We also discussed the importance of observances like National Poetry Day as well as poetry, lockdown and the Institute’s role and activities in an interview for National Poetry Day 2020 with the Arts Matter blog.

More videos from the Bristol Poetry Institute can be found on our YouTube Channel.

Poetry Translation Workshop with Leo Boix

The Bristol Poetry Institute, in partnership with the Poetry Translation Centre, are pleased to be hosting a translation workshop with Argentinian/British poet Leo Boix on the evening of 24 March. We’ll be translating Argentinian philosopher and writer Silvina Giaganti, and we’d love for you to join us! Knowledge of Spanish is not required, as workshop participants will receive support in crafting the final, translated poem in English.

For more information and to book your FREE place, click here.

A poem for Stephen Lawrence, 25 years on

Matt Jacobs reads ‘Stephen Lawrence isn’t on the National Curriculum’ by Josephine Corcoran in remembrance of Stephen Lawrence, 25 years on.

When asked about the poem, Matt Jacobs said:

It is now 25 years since the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the subsequent Macpherson Enquiry into the police investigation that revealed the extent of institutional racism that infused the workings of the Metropolitan Police Force. Since that time, it seems that little has changed. Just last year, Avon and Somerset Constabulary and Bristol City Council accepted the findings of the IPCC report on the murder of Iranian refugee, Bijan Ebrahimi, that said officers showed “hallmarks” of racial bias against Mr Ebrahimi. A further independent report commissioned by Safer Bristol revealed Avon and Somerset Police and Bristol City Council were responsible for a “collective failure” and that “institutional racism” was evident in the case; institutional racism that ultimately led to the death of Mr Ebrihimi.

These issues have long been known, felt, and lived by People of Colour in Britain. Yet, is seems that we White British people are unable to accept responsibility for our part in this. Yes, we may express outrage, shock, and words of apparent support for the cause of racial equality, but what do we actually do about addressing it? This poem speaks to this issue by highlighting the institutional neglect in not teaching our children about the murder of Stephen Lawrence and by emphasising our responsibility as individuals, as parents, to teach our children that Black Lives Matter.

Matt Jacobs is a PhD Researcher at the University of Bristol. Matt is researching how ‘Whiteness’, ‘masculinity’ and ‘middle-classness’ combine in the identities of White British, middle-class men, and how they perform these identities in post-Brexit/Trump/#MeToo/Black Lives Matter Bristol.

Further information

This reading is part of the Commemorative Poem Initiative run by the Bristol Poetry Institute.

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 william.wootten@bristol.ac.uk.

A poem for the first day of Spring

To celebrate the first day of Spring, John Lee reads ‘A Shropshire Lad 2: Loveliest of trees, the cherry now’ by A. E. Housman.

To mark the first day of Spring, Dr John Lee, Senior Lecturer in English, reads A. E. Housman’s ‘A Shropshire Lad 2: Loveliest of trees, the cherry now’.

Of his choice of poem, John Lee said:

Housman’s poem about cherry trees blooming was published in A Shropshire Lad in 1896. Many readers have found it immediately memorable. Some of its charm derives from the rather mysterious way that cherry trees flower before they have leaves. (They are, to use the technical term, ‘hysteranthous’.)  If this were not the case, they could not precisely be said to wear white; and their being able to wear white, with its implications of marriage and new generations, chimes in nicely with the description of the season as Eastertide, a naming which invokes the miraculous resurrection of Jesus, in Christian tradition. Those mysterious and miraculous renewals are salted by the speaker’s own clear sense of mortality. He is an onlooker, twenty years old, and so, he presumes, only has another fifty years of observation; and after those seventy years, there may be no more new beginnings to be observed or, perhaps, experienced – in his personal life Housman declared himself a ‘High-Church atheist’. Critics of Housman have decried his poems’ simplicity, and have seen it as the companion of a childish pessimism. His defenders have pointed to a complexity of presentation, noting the gaiety with which dark matters are presented in the poems.  Such curious mixes of life and death are found in many of the best poems of Spring, and whichever side one takes in the battle of the critics, there is in ‘Loveliest of Trees’ a captivating musicality which plays with and against both the felt shortness of human life and the seasonal recurrence of Nature.

Dr John Lee is Senior Lecturer in the Department of English. His main areas of research interest are Shakespeare, English Renaissance Literature, Literature and Medicine and Rudyard Kipling. His publications include, Edmund Spenser’s Shorter Poems: A Selection (London: Everyman, 1998) and Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ and the Controversies of Self (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000).

Further information

This reading is part of the Commemorative Poem Initiative run by the Bristol Poetry Institute.