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In the Event by John Birtwhistle: Carcanet Book Launch


Wednesday 2 Dec 2020, 19:00 to 20:00
Location:

Online

Description:

Please join us to celebrate the launch of John Birtwhistle's new poetry collection, In the Event. Hosting the reading will be Hugh Haughton, joining John to discuss the new work. Audience members will have the opportunity to ask their own questions. We will also be showing extracts of the text during the reading so that you can read along. Register here, and let us know you can make it by joining the Facebook event.

John Birtwhistle has said that 'one writes each poem just to learn how to write it', and insists that he 'doesn't care a dried pea for Artistic Development or Finding One's Own Voice'. The result, of course, is that a strongly recognisable voice comes through. For all their variety of forms and ideas, his poems are consistent in their visual precision, their scrupulous phrasing and their formal clarity. These qualities are brought to everything he touches, whether it is a passing moment of childhood, a natural detail, a wryly stoic observation, or perennial emotions in the face of events from before birth (first foetal movements) to after burial (removal to an ossuary). Many scores of individuals are named or make their appearance in some way. If one poem is satiric, the next is unashamedly lyrical. Several reflect on the adequacy of art, and a feature is the stream of very short pieces by way of illustration or riposte, like the border of the Bayeux Tapestry. Wit and feeling are so interwoven in Birtwhistle's technique, that when it comes to the register of loss and death he is able to find what an otherwise hostile critic admitted 'can be a kind of bridled eloquence'. Word frequency analysis shows a high incidence of time, thought, light, morning, child, apple tree, painting and fossil.

Registration for this online event will cost £2, later redeemable against the cost of the book. All attendees will receive the discount code and how to purchase the book during and after event.

Please note that there is a limited number of places for the reading, so do book early to avoid disappointment. You should receive a confirmation email with details on how to join after you register. If this does not arrive, please contact us to let us know. Please also be aware that clicking 'attending' on the Facebook event will not guarantee your place - you must complete the Zoom registration here.

About the speakers:

John Birtwhistle was born in Scunthorpe in 1946. His poetry has been recognised by an Eric Gregory Award, an Arts Council bursary, Arts Council creative writing fellowships, and a fellowship at the University of Southampton. His collection Our Worst Suspicions was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. He has had three libretti set and performed; of these, David Blake's The Plumber's Gift was staged by English National Opera and broadcast on Radio 3. For twelve years, he was a Lecturer in English at the University of York, teaching mainly the seventeenth century and Romantic periods. From 2012 to 2017, he was a literary contributor and eventually an Associate Editor of the quarterly BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care. Birtwhistle is married to a Consultant Anaesthetist and since 1992 he has lived in Sheffield with his family.

Hugh Haughton is Professor of English at the University of York, author of The Poetry of Derek Mahon (2007) and editor of Poetry of the Second World War (2004). He is the co-editor (with Valerie Eliot) of The Letters of T. S. Eliot (2009).

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