“Safe” in the title of the University of Sheffield’s Centre for Poetry and Poetics Safe Readings Series translates to “online” as the guests keep coming thick and fast, albeit from the comfort of their own homes. The latest line-up includes four writers who themselves work with translation and who all feature in the Wretched Strangers anthology: Iris Colomb, Richard Parker, Jèssica Pujol Duran and Virna Teixeira.
Agnes Lehóczky says of tonight’s guests: “They are energetic, vibrant, multilingual poets often employing performative/multimedia/cross-genre elements within their work.”
“We have been running the series for many years now within the Centre for Poetry and Poetics,” says Agnes Lehóczky, the Director there. “It is a lot of hard work as we tend to – both pre- and post-Covid – try and run eight to 10 events per calendar year.” Anyone, including members of the public, students of the School of English (and Creative Writing) and alumni of the Faculty, as well as academic colleagues is welcome to join the events, which feature contemporary British, UK-based and international writers. “We know these writers’ work, so it is easy to match them up in various groups of events.”
The Wretched Strangers anthology came out two years ago with Norwich’s Boiler House Press to mark the anniversary of the June 2016 EU Referendum and “in solidarity through struggles ongoing and to come”- the publisher says that the book, which features well over one hundred non-UK-born writers, “brings together innovative writing from around the globe, celebrating the irreducible diversity such work brings to ‘British’ poetry”. It was edited by JT Welsch, of the University of York and author of this year’s The Selling and Self-regulation of Contemporary Poetry (out with Anthem), with Agnes Lehóczky, who says of tonight’s guests: “They are energetic, vibrant, multilingual poets often employing performative/multimedia/cross-genre elements within their work.”
Indeed, we caught London-based artist, poet, curator, editor and translator Iris Colomb at the rather good Murmur Sunday-evening series in the Kestrel Suite at Common a couple of years back, unravelling ticker-tape-type paper scribed with the words she was reading, and this is typical of her work. Her practice merges poetry and other art forms to explore different relationships between visual and spoken forms of text. Iris has given individual, collaborative, durational and interactive performances in the UK, Austria, France, Germany and Romania and at the Bucharest International Poetry Festival, the European Poetry Festival and the Southbank Centre’s Poetry International Festival among others. These performances have involved human collaborators as well as metal tubes, massive spools, hand-held shredders, red bins, hundreds of cigarettes, shouting over hairdryers, spitting in books and faces, and turning audiences into poetry machines. One recent photograph shows her reading as she hangs upside down tied by her ankles.
Richard Parker is a poet, academic, editor and printer. His poetry publications include from The Mountain of California… (Openned, 2010), The Traveller and the Defence of Heaven (Veer, 2012) and R.T.A. Parker’s 99 Sonnets About Evil (Canary Woof, 2015). His work, which includes poetry about sport, travel writing and science fiction, addresses questions of place and the environment through investigations of poetic form and process. He is also the editor and printer of the award-winning Crater Press pamphlet and book series, publishing mostly letterpress pamphlets of some of the best new British poetry.
Jèssica Pujol Duran is a poet, academic and translator, who writes and translates in Catalan, English and Spanish. She edits the magazine Alba Londres and has published three chapbooks in English: Now Worry (Department, 2012), Every Bit of Light (Oystercatcher Press, 2012) and Mare (Carnaval Press, 2018). Her two books in Catalan are El país pintat (Pont del petroli, 2015) and ninó (Pont del petroli, 2019) and the one in Spanish is Entrar es tan difícil salir (Veer Books, 2016), with translations by William Rowe.
Born in Fortaleza, Brazil, and now living in London, Virna Teixeira is a poet, translator and also a publisher, running UK small press Carnaval Press, publishing titles of Scottish, French and South American poetry. She is the editor of electronic literary magazine Theodora and her own poetry books have been published in South America, Portugal and the UK; her next collection, My Doll and I, will be published by Pamenar Press. She is a prolific translator, translating Brazilian poetry into English, and, as if that weren’t enough, Virna is also a doctor working within the mental health sector in the NHS.