Get inspired by live poetry events this summer at Southbank Centre

Tuesday, July 17, 2018 - 16:58

The home of the National Poetry Library since 1988 and venue for the Poetry International biennial for fifty years, Southbank Centre has a long and strong relationship with poetry. It’s a legacy that continues to this day, and this summer is no different as we look forward to a packed poetry programme that includes live readings, prizes and a chance to discover new works.

Whether you’re a poet or a poetry fan, you’ll find something to get the mind stirring here with us this summer, from the raw emotion and anger of Poems for Grenfell, via the illumination and abandonment of Rimbaud in London, to the optimism of poetry for change at National Poetry Day Live. Just take a look below, for more on what’s coming up.

Enjoy a summer showcase of new voices

Amy Key

Every three months, expert poet ‘selectors’ choose the best new collections to deliver to members of the Poetry Book Society, hot off the press. On Wednesday 25 July, we welcomed the latest edition of this showcase, as Forte Prize-winning poet Sandeep Parmer hosted an evening of readings from poets in the PBS summer selection. Joining Parmer were the widely published London poet Amy Key (pictured, above) and Hong Kong’s Mary Jean Chan - whose debut poetry collection will be released next year - plus the winner of the PBS Student Poetry Prize, Jay G Ying.



See how poems are helping save endangered languages

Language Shift at Southbank Centre: Envy by Mary Kuper

Over 7,000 languages are spoken in the world, and it is estimated that each fortnight one of these languages dies out. On National Poetry Day 2017, the National Poetry Library launched The Endangered Poetry Project, to collect and preserve poetry written in endangered languages.

That project is the inspiration for the free exhibition Language Shift which runs from 26 July to 13 September and features visual works by Mary Kuper which are responses to poems written in endangered languages - such as Breton, Alsatian, Sardinian and Shetlandic - that collectively form a visual map. The exhibition also includes to films which explore poetry in translation.

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The Endangered Poetry Project continues this year, and will be doing a second call-out for submissions soon, with the aim to include a selection of endangered language poetry in a future anthology.

more on the project


Walk in the footsteps of a volatile genius

The capricious French talent Arthur Rimbaud is believed to have influenced a huge number of 20th century writers, musicians and artists. In the early 1870s the poet spent just over a year living in London, and on 1 August we pay homage to his time here with Rimbaud in London, an evening of original poetry and music. Hosted by poet and psychogeographer Niall McDevitt the event features poetry from Paul Stubbs, Blandine Longre and Jeremy Reed, and music from Penny Rimbaud.

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Discover the consolation of poetry

Poems for Grenfell

It is now just over a year since the horrific, devastating fire at Grenfell Tower - the effects of which continue to be felt by the community of the Lancaster West Estate within which the tower stood. To help raise funds for the Grenfell Foundation - set up to support the residents and families affected by the tragedy - and to give a platform for writers seeking to bear witness to their personal Grenfell experiences, Onslaught Press has published the anthology Poems for Grenfell Tower.

On 5 September we welcome contributors to that anthology to the National Poetry Library to share their works at Poems for Grenfell. Among the readers are poets Steve Griffiths, Rachel Burns, George Szirtes, Angela Topping, Myra Schneider and Alemu Tebeje, a resident of the Lancaster West Estate. This event is free, but is ticketed so please do book in advance.

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Find your next poetry obsession

Forward Poetry Prize Ceremony: Liz Berry

On 18 September, our Queen Elizabeth Hall is the venue for the awarding of one of the most coveted prizes in poetry, the annual Forward Prizes for Poetry. Fifteen poets have been shortlisted across three categories - Best Collection, Best First Collection, and Best Single Poem - and as well as getting to har each of them perform live, you’ll be the first to discover the winners and leave with a suggested reading list that could keep you going for some time.

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Explore the poetry of change

Anthony Anaxagorou

‘Change’ is the theme of this year’s National Poetry Day and on the day itself, 4 October, we welcome a group of acclaimed poets who are bringing about shifts in culture and society, for an evening of free poetry. Joining us for National Poetry Day Live in our reopened Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer to deliver readings of their work are Anthony Anaxagorou (pictured, above), Mary Jean Chan, Caroline Bird and Zaffar Kunial.

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Situated on Level 5 of our Royal festival Hall, the National Poetry Library has been part of Southbank Centre since 1988. The largest collection of modern poetry in the world it is open 11am - 8pm daily from Tuesday to Sunday

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