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The Poetry Book Society and NCLA called an Emergency Poetry Summit on the 5th May at Northern Stage. We reunited the poetry community for a state-of-the-nation summit to launch the first Newcastle Poetry Festival since the pandemic began; a chance to reflect and look to the future. Readers, writers and poetry fans were invited to join world-class poets, publishers, producers to review poetry’s new normal, celebrate resilience and make the case for hope. In this age of emergency, we look to the poets to light the way.

Symposium Schedule


Introduction by Imtiaz Dharker


Pandemic Poetry Recovery

After a lockdown resurgence, is poetry emerging stronger than ever? Leading poets will share their pandemic experiences, from shielding to how Covid has shaped their craft. Featuring Indonesian-born poet Khairani Barokka (Ultimatum Orangutan, Nine Arches Press), NHS nurse Romalyn Ante (Antiemetic for Homesickness, Chatto) and Northern Writer’s award-winner and accessibility activist Hannah Hodgson (163 Days, Seren) via video link, and Harry Josephine Giles (Deep Wheel Orcadia, Picador). How can poetry help in times of crisis?


Small Back Rooms

Is the poetry events sector recovering from the global pandemic? Jake Morris-Campbell will review the “new normal” with regional poetry event producers. How can grassroots poetry organisations survive and thrive, post-pandemic? Big world problems are solved in Small Back Rooms – here’s your chance to have your say and celebrate Newcastle’s lively spoken word scene.


Lunch break


Climate Emergency

How are poets rallying in response to the climate emergency? Climate writer-in-residence, Linda France, chairs a global and intersectional eco-debate. Jamaican-born poet Jason Allen-Paisant interrogates eco-poetry, blackness and landscape in Thinking With Trees(Carcanet). Polly Atkin rewrites nature writing from a place of bodily emergency in Much With Body (Seren), and PBS Summer Recommendation Sylvia Legris will join virtually from Canada to share her radical botanical Garden Physic (Granta). What more can be done in this decisive decade?


The Inequality Emergency: Healing Divisions

Forward Prizes judge and Malika’s Poetry Kitchen editor Rishi Dastidar, will explore how poets are tackling the inequality emergency, from Black Lives Matter to migration and class divisions. Yomi Sode will examine Black British experiences in his new collection Manorism. Butcher’s Dog editor, Jo Clement will champion “othered” voices in Outlandish (Bloodaxe) and Wagtail, an anthology of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller poets. Whilst Naush Sabah, author of Litanies (Guillemot Press), will share her experience of widening access as publisher of the Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal. How can we heal divisions and make poetry more inclusive?


Emerging Hope

The Emergency Poetry Summit culminates with an electrifying reading by Romalyn AnteJason Allen-Paisant, Jo Clement and Anastasia Taylor-Lind celebrate our first festival since the pandemic. This stellar trio will reflect on the turbulent times we’re living through and make the case for hope. 

In-person tickets only cost £15 for a day of events featuring fifteen world-class poets; £10 concessions or £5 for online only ticket.

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