Crossings & Waves and Bones: poetry commissions

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The Newcastle Poetry Festival is extremely proud to host two poetry commissions: Crossings and Waves and Bones, both which will be launched Friday 4 May at Northern Stage.

Crossings are poems inspired by the artist Sean Scully. This year’s festival coincides with a major retrospective of Sean Scully, co-hosted by the Hatton and Laing Art Galleries. Scully was born in Ireland, grew up in England, lived for many years in New York, and is a graduate of Newcastle University. Scully’s work can be characterised by multiple intersections as it explores the tensions between change and stasis, purity and impurity, surface and depth.

Eight poets, including Imtiaz Dharker, Sasha Dugdale, Ciaran Carson, Luke Kennard, Ian Duhig, Karen McCarthy Woolf, and Degna Stone have taken the challenge of writing ekphrastic poems about Scully’s work. The response has been fantastic! From paintings with emphasis on image and pattern such as Masking Tape, Cream Red Cream, and Diagonal Light, some poets in response about the internet, relations between the UK and Russia and the complexity of human connections.

What’s more, festival goers can hear recordings of the poets reading their poems as they move between the paintings, and between the two galleries. The Crossings app, artfully designed by Peter Hebden, will be available for download before and during the festival from iTunes and Google Play.

The second poetry project, Waves and Bones, was sponsored by the Area of Outstanding National Beauty Partnership. On a very bright but windy day in late February, a group of poets visited sites on the Northumbrian Coast to be inspired by relics and stories of pilgrimage. The commissioned poets include Linda Anderson, John Challis, Christy Ducker, Linda France, Cynthia Fuller, Kris Johnson, Peter Hebden, Lisa Matthews, Theresa Muñoz and David Spittle. After collecting the poems, artist Phyllis Christopher has created a video and photography collage which includes readings of the poems. The poets have sensitively drawn on aspects of history and landscape: there are poems about burial tokens, cemetery bowls, the Lindisfarne gospels, and much more.

These are exciting commissions which should not be missed. Tickets to this event are FREE and can be booked here!

We gratefully acknowledge support for this event from the Newcastle Institute for Creative Practice, Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums Trust and the Area of Outstanding National Beauty Partnership.