To give it its full title, Poetry Emergency: A North West Radical Poetry Festival is a two-day festival bringing together some of the most challenging and surprising poets and performers of the moment for readings and performance, workshops and discussions, displays and even a pop-up book fair.
A rare and exciting creative and learning event for the North West, the festival aims to explore emergency and liveness in radical poetic art, asking: can poetic art intervene against passivity and fear in order to agitate and inspire? In the emergency-prone moment of anxiety and disaster-creation, how can the mini-revolutions of language art snowball into communities of support and resistance?
Split across two days and two sites, you can choose to attend either or indeed both. Tickets are £8 for the whole weekend or £3 for Friday evening (keynote and poetry readings) and £6 for Saturday. Workshops are free to attend, but numbers are limited and – take note – you need to sign up in advance.
Friday takes place at Salford University’s New Adelphi Studio Theatre, with registration at 10am and sessions running 10.30am-9pm. The morning workshop, led by Newcastle-based artist, arts educator and researcher Nicola Singh, looks at performance, emergence and the body; in the afternoon, Leeds-based poet Gloria Dawson will be delving into mischievous dissemination and the poetry of 1968, the year of the Paris Riots. Starting at 4pm, Sean Bonney presents a keynote performance after the work of Greek poet and anarchist Katerina Gogou. Sean is also one of the poets reading in the evening from 6.30pm – and will be joined by Amy McCauley, Claire Potter and Stuart Calton.
On Saturday, the festival moves across to Manchester and, more precisely, the Metropolitan University’s 70 Oxford Street building (formerly Cornerhouse). Sessions run 10.30am-9pm and you can expect a day packed with poetry readings, poetry-adjacent performance, discussions and displays.
Poetry books and pamphlets of interest will be available to view in the Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections reading room at All Saints Library during the afternoon (12.30-3.30pm), and there will also be de facto displays of slogans and snippets and other materials contributed via international mail by Bhanu Kapil, while a mini book fair will give you the opportunity to get your hands on work by some of the performing poets and publishers involved.
Various performance sessions will take place throughout the day, including Young Identity, Gloria Dawson and Nicola Singh (presenting a brand-new performance piece created following her workshop on Friday) in the morning and, starting at 3.30pm, readings in association with regular avant-garde reading series Peter Barlow’s Cigarette, featuring Zoë Skoulding, Lila Matsumoto, Nathan Walker, Rhys Trimble and Maggie O’Sullivan.
Also in the afternoon, following readings by Nat Raha and Nisha Ramayya, Danny Hayward will facilitate a discussion on poetry and anti-fascist culture, then after a break for dinner, the evening will be filled with musical and other sound performances from Tear Fet, THF Drenching and Food People.
Props surely must go to Joey Frances and Nia Alban Davies for organising the event, developed in collaboration with Salford University and the North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership, Manchester Metropolitan University, and in association with Poetry Wales and Peter Barlow’s Cigarette. Now get online and book your tickets!
Because of the ongoing Coronavirus crisis, we are unable to bring you our usual recommendations for things to do in Manchester and the North. Our thoughts at this time are with our readers and with the organisations and businesses who make the North of England a great place to live and visit. We hope you stay well and look forward to sharing more unmissable events and places with you later in the year.
Here’s our guide to supporting organisations in Manchester and the North.
Please note – many of the venues on our site will be closed and events either postponed or cancelled. Please check the venue website for details.