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Poetry & Lyrics Festival

Poetry & Lyrics Festival

Poet in the City presents POETRY & LYRICS at Kings Place, 90 York Way, London.

Friday 9th and Saturday 10th June 2017.

Poetry & Lyrics is an annual festival curated and produced by Poet in the City, an artistic associate at Kings Place. Throughout history we have told stories in verse and song to contemplate both personal and global experiences, and to explore political, social and natural matters across cultures. The festival will highlight how poetry, literature, music and song have been interwoven throughout history, and how they continue to interact in contemporary culture.

Over two days, Poetry & Lyrics will bring together music and poetry lovers alike in a celebration of the interplay between these art forms. The festival offers a blend of voices, from poets and spoken-word artists to talented proponents of folk, roots and experimental music.

Last year’s inaugural Poetry & Lyrics, which included events hosted by Cerys Matthews, Steve Lamacq and Dizraeli, was enjoyed by over 1,000 people. The 2017 edition will continue to invite new audiences to experience the power of live performance and challenge their perceptions about contemporary music and verse.



On Friday evening, Poetry & Lyrics is delighted to announce a unique meeting between two iconic voices - PJ Harvey and Don Paterson - who will be sharing a stage for the very first time. Long-time admirers of one another’s work, they will come together for a night of readings and conversation, hosted by BBC arts commentator and presenter John Wilson.

Best known as an award-winning poet, receiving the 2010 Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, Don Paterson is also an accomplished jazz musician and composer. Conversely, PJ Harvey is familiar to many for her nine acclaimed albums, two of which have won the Mercury Prize. The evening will bring to the forefront her mesmerizing poetry, ahead of the release of her second collection.

Saturday’s headline event is a showcase of talent, hosted by Murray Lachlan Young, who will be joined by a variety of his favourite poets and musicians from across the industry. Murray’s poetry career has progressed from the underground cabaret nights of mid-nineties London to hosting a series on MTV USA. Murray is a hugely charismatic poet-performer, anarchic and sardonic in the mould of John Cooper Clarke. He has performed on the main stage at both T in the Park and Glastonbury festivals, and appears as an ‘across network’ performer on BBC Radio, including as resident poet at BBC Radio 6 Music.


Exploring Origins

Saturday kicks off with an explosion of colour and energy in the form of The Afrikan Revolution, a sprawling supergroup of musicians led by multi-talented musician Niles ‘Asheber’ Hailstones. Formed in 2007 and fuelled by the global ‘Afrikan Renaissance Movement’, the band presents a seamless mixture of Afrikan, Reggae, Jazz, Soul, Blues and Spoken Word, which reflects the journey and evolution of Afrikan music in the diaspora.

Folk club The Nest Collective will continue to explore the roots of song and language with The Land Listeners, a unique event celebrating and comparing the oral histories of two English regions. With a focus on landscape and the influence it has on communities’ poetry, language and song, keeper of language Bill Murray and iconic folk singer Jackie Oates discuss Devon, while fiddle player Scott William Albert Hartley and stone mason Will Noble regale listeners with tales of Yorkshire.

Saturday’s penultimate event focuses on the lyricism of John Cage’s iconic Song Books. Published in 1970, Cage consulted the I ching (the Chinese oracle book) to determine how many songs would go into each book: the numerical response left him with the task of writing ninety new pieces for a solo singer in only three months. To celebrate this extraordinary undertaking, Elaine Mitchener Projects have created Possessing Nothing, a Cagean happening especially for Poetry & Lyrics which will feature performances from Tommaso Petrolo and Ffion Cambell-Davies and music from Matt Wright. Promising a dramatic and immersive experience, the happening will allow audiences to wander through and explore the Song Books, inviting them to take their own path, ask questions and ultimately join John´s adventure.



Poet in the City are pleased to have secured one of the most exciting and important new voices in British poetry for a free event. Kayo Chingonyi will share work from his first full-length collection Kumukanda (published by Chatto & Windus in June 2017), alongside a new sequence of poems exploring the forms of love poetry and love songs. His beautifully crafted, powerful work centres on race, self-portraiture, music, grief and masculinity. Kayo Chingonyi is a fellow of the Complete Works programme for diversity and quality in British Poetry and was Associate Poet at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in 2015/16.

The free programme also includes a series of exciting musical performances. Opening proceedings on Friday night is expert storyteller and songwriter Kristin McClement, whose music is born of two worlds - the vast shapeshifting landscape of her childhood South Africa engraved with the melancholic romance of old England. To round off Friday evening, Don Paterson - fresh off stage from his event with PJ Harvey - will be joined by saxophonist Tim Garland for some late night jazz.

In addition, the festival will feature an exclusive event by Poet in the City Producers, called Still I Rise: Hip Hop, Feminism & Poetry exploring how spoken word and rap are changing the debate about feminism. The Producers are a group of talented 16-25 year olds who create events for high-profile venues as part of the Poet in the City programme. They will also be creating a podcast especially for the festival. Rounding off the programme is the immersive audio experience The Sonic Wall, which will run at intervals throughout the weekend.


Isobel Colchester, CEO of Poet in the City, comments:

"Following a season of poetry and music this spring, we are incredibly proud to be back for the second year of Poetry & Lyrics festival with Kings Place. Last year we started by celebrating the presence of poetry across the spectrum of musical genres, and we are delighted this year to be deepening this exploration by looking at endings and origins across the lyrical word. Bookended by two amazing headline events with Don Paterson and PJ Harvey and Murray Lachlan Young, we´ll be exploring the narration of the African diaspora through poetry and politics, the ancient dialects of rural England and the limits of language in experimental contemporary music - it´s going to be another unforgettable weekend."


Tickets for the festival are on sale now and can be purchased from Kings Place.


All photos (other than Murray Lachlan Young) credited to Alex Lake.

Poetry & Lyrics Festival Poetry & Lyrics Festival Poetry & Lyrics Festival Poetry & Lyrics Festival

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