York Festival Of Ideas Online

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Poet Vahni Capildeo.

York Festival of Ideas Online, online, 2–14 June 2020, free entry - Visit now

Taking place 2 to 14 June, this year’s York Festival Of Ideas heads online, with plenty to see and do – the full calendar of activities can be explored here. “Featuring world-class speakers, exhibitions, theatre, music, films, guided walks, family-friendly activities and much more”, events usually take place at venues throughout the city, but for 2020 the festival is “taking a smaller offering into the virtual world” – which is great, because it means we can go too!

Top of the list live literature wise for us is the event Words and Swords, featuring poets Vahni Capildeo and Mary Jean Chan on Sunday 7 June (7-8pm). We’ve seen Vahni read IRL here in Manchester in days of yore, and they are definitely worth checking out again. The Trinidadian poet won the Forward Prize for best poetry collection in 2016 with Measures of Expatriation, which came out on Manchester-based publisher Carcanet, who also published Venus as a Bear, shortlisted for the 2018 Forward Prize for Best Collection. Vahni’s latest book is Odyssey Calling (Sad Press, 2020), and, as Writer in Residence at the University of York’s Department of English and Related Literature, they will be introducing and talking to Mary Jean Chan about her work, exploring the unexpected connections between wordplay and swordplay. The event features live and pre-recorded segments – including fencing demonstrations! – and is a talk followed by a Q&A. (Admission is free, but advance booking is required. The event will be recorded and will be available on YouTube for anyone who might miss the live event on the day. You can now watch this event here.)

Top of the list live literature wise for us is the event Words and Swords, featuring poets Vahni Capildeo and Mary Jean Chan on Sunday 7 June

Originally from Hong Kong, London-based Mary Jean – a poet, lecturer and editor – will read from last year’s Costa Book Award-winning debut poetry collection Flèche (Faber & Faber), currently shortlisted for both the 2020 Dylan Thomas Prize and the 2020 Jhalak Prize. Mary Jean has twice been shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem, and is the recipient of an Eric Gregory Award. Mary Jean was recently guest co-editor at The Poetry Review, and was due to read at our very own Poets & Players before the event was cancelled as a result of the pandemic.

Scooting around the York Festival Of Ideas website, we’ve also spotted some interesting interactive creative writing workshops – including both cutout poetry and blackout poetry sessions from Found Fiction.

York Festival of Ideas Online, online

2–14 June 2020
Free entry