Jason Allen-Paisant at Manchester Poetry Library

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Jason Allen-Paisant
Jason Allen-Paisant

Poetry Reading Series: Jason Allen-Paisant at Manchester Poetry Library, Manchester 7 May 2024 Entrance is free — Visit now

Head to Manchester Poetry Library for the first of three events in its brand-new spring/summer poetry reading series – which not only features prize-winning poets but is also completely free.

First up is poet and academic Jason Allen-Paisant, whose second collection of poetry, Self-Portrait As Othello, won the super-prestigious TS Eliot Prize in 2023 not to mention Best Collection in the most recent Forward Prizes. Published by Manchester’s Carcanet Press in 2023, Self-Portrait As Othello follows Thinking with Trees (Carcanet, 2021), winner of the 2022 OCM Bocas Prize for poetry, and an Irish Times and White Review Book of the Year.

A Poetry Book Society Spring Recommendation, Self-Portrait As Othello‘s interlocking poems reimagine Shakespeare’s character (I write this on the Bard’s birthday) in the urban landscapes of modern-day European cities including London, Paris and Venice, and invent the kinds of narrative he might tell about his intersecting identities. Described variously as a speculative project, poetic memoir and ekphrastic experiment, Self-Portrait as Othello focuses on a character at once fictional and real. “Brilliantly insightful and strikingly lyrical”, said Roger Robinson: “Exhilarating – I recommend it highly.”

“Trees feature very prominently in my work,” says Jamaican-born, Leeds-based Jason Allen-Paisant in his introduction to Carcanet’s New Poetries VIII anthology, pre-empting his debut Thinking with Trees. “I come back to them again and again.” Growing up in a village in the rural centre of Jamaica, he recalls that: “Trees were all around. When I think of my childhood, I see myself entering a deep woodland with cedars and logwood all around. The muscular guango trees were like beings among whom we lived.” Now living in Leeds with his wife and two children, he often goes walking in a nearby forest and says: “Here, trees represent an alternative space, a refuge from an ultra-consumerist culture…”

Jason Allen-Paisant is senior lecturer in Critical Theory and Creative Writing at the University of Manchester, and, as well as poetry, his creative writing extends to memoir and critical life writing. He has published non-fiction in the form of a book of personal essays, Reclaiming Time, and his latest non-fiction book, Scanning The Bush, will be published by Hutchinson Heinemann in 2024.

This event will see Jason Allen-Paisant read from a selection of his poems, and chat about his work to Manchester Writing School’s Malika Booker, chair of judges of the Manchester Poetry Prize and winner of the Forward Prize 2023 for Best Single Poem – Written, for her piece ‘Libation’ (The Poetry Review).

The Manchester Poetry Library poetry reading series continues with Liz Berry on 16 May and Luke Kennard on 20 June. We can’t wait! And before then, you can catch MPL’s programme manager Martin Kratz reading his own work at Poetry at the Dusty Miller.

Self-Portrait as Othello by Jason Allen-Paisant
Self-Portrait as Othello by Jason Allen-Paisant

Poetry Reading Series: Jason Allen-Paisant at Manchester Poetry Library, Manchester 7 May 2024 Entrance is free Visit now

Luke Kennard
LiteratureManchester
Luke Kennard at Manchester Poetry Library

We’re looking forward to hearing from Birmingham-based poet, critic and fiction writer Luke Kennard, the third guest to appear in Manchester Poetry Library’s events programme.

free entry

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