Precautions are in force to minimise the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in London and throughout the UK. These include closures of event venues, plus restrictions on public assembly. Most live events for the immediate future have been cancelled, postponed, or moved online.
In light of this, the ‘Innovative Poetry Readings in London’ calendar of events is currently focused on online provision by London poets and organisations. A small number of London venues (primarily art galleries) are reopening; information about poetry activities there, and about in-person events planned for further in the future, is included below. If venturing out, please take the utmost care over your health and that of others, and bear in mind that cancellations may occur at short notice in light of the ongoing pandemic.
If you would like to engage with poetry online from the comfort of your home, the poet Peter Philpott has assembled useful lists of links to online resources at www.modernpoetry.org.uk. If you are missing the experience of hearing innovative poetry performed aloud, his list of audio and video sites – http://www.modernpoetry.org.uk/av.html – may be of special interest.
Time-specific online events
|Ongoing until Sun 9 August.||Home: Mellom Press presents an exhibition of multilingual visual poetry, featuring works by Hetvi, Gary Barwin, Richard Biddle, Angela Caporaso, Ana Čavić, Egidija Čiricaitė, Susanne Eules, Azadeh Fatehrad, Emma Filtness, SJ Fowler, Paul Hawkins, James Knight, Canan Marasligil, Arnold McBay, Maya McDowell-Uppal, Manuel Delgado Meroño, Stephen Nelson, Lina Nordenström, Silja Ree, Kevin Stebner, Simon Tyrrell and Michaël Vidon.|
|Ongoing until Mon 31 August.||Korean Poetry Workshop: Modern Poetry in Translation magazine presents an online workshop with translator So J Lee, working with a concrete poem by Lee Jenny.|
|Ongoing until Mon 31 August.||artBLAB:text: The artBLAB series of talks presents an exhibition of video-art by poets Astra Papachristodoulou, J Whitehead, Paul Ingram, Fran Lock, Stephen Mooney, Stephen Emmerson, Iris Colomb, Matt Martin, Tim Atkins and Michal Kamil Piotrowski.|
|Sat 8 & Sun 9 August.||Fifty Shades of Language: The London Centre for Interdisciplinary Research presents this conference about the nature of language. £90 registration fee.|
|Sat 8 August, 3.30pm-5.30pm.||Writers Forum Workshop – New Series: Experimental writing workshop, open to all. Via Zoom; registration required.|
|Sat 8 August, 4pm.||The Gronthee Facebook Live Series: The Gronthee presents a poetry reading featuring London’s Alireza Abiz, plus Math Jones, Kamal Chowdhury, Micaela Mendoza Hägglund and Ranajit Das. Via Facebook.|
|Sat 8 August, 7pm.||Virtual Programme to Mark the 79th Death Anniversary of Tagore: The Nehru Centre presents an evening of songs and talks to mark the anniversary of the death of Bengali modernist poet Rabindranath Tagore. Via Facebook.|
|Mon 10 August, 7pm.||Poetry is not a Luxury: The Poetics of Abolition: London-based Silver Press hosts readings and discussion about the role of poetry in visualising future change, featuring poets Nat Raha and Canisia Lubrin, plus scholars Saidiya Hartman and Christina Sharpe. Via Zoom; registration required.|
|Tue 11 August, 7pm.||Why Poetry?: The White Review hosts a discussion of reasons for writing poetry, featuring Kaleem Hawa, Kayo Chingonyi and Ralf Webb. Via Zoom; registration required.|
|Tue 18 August.||Reading: Meena Kandasamy: Bare Lit festival hosts a poetry reading by Meena Kandasamy.|
|Tue 18 August, 6.30pm.||Online Workshop: Sri Lankan Tamil Poet Anar: The Poetry Translation Centre presents a workshop with Hari Rajaledchumy and Edward Doegar, on translating work by the Sri Lankan Tamil poet Anar. Via Zoom. Booking required, pay what you can.|
|Sun 23 August, 5pm-9pm.||Jazz Re:Fest 2020: Jazz Refreshed presents a jazz festival featuring poet Anthony Joseph, plus Steam Down, Ms Maurice, Binker Golding, Golden Mean, Sahra Gure and Jay Kayser.|
|Mon 14 September – Mon 14 December.||Poetic Artifice: Writing with & against Veronica Forrest-Thompson: Will Harris leads a 12-week masterclass for the Poetry School, on writing poetry in response to the critical theory of Veronica Forrest-Thompson. £179.|
|Sun 20 September, 5pm.||On Common Ground: The Life & Times of John Clare: The Crick Crack Club presents Hugh Lupton’s spoken word account of 19th-century poet John Clare. Booking required; £9.50. Also bookable as an in-person event (at Kings Place, 90 York Way, Kings Cross N1 9AG; £17.50).|
|Tue 22 September, 10am-5pm, then at the same time weekly until Tue 20 October.||Drawing, Collage and Poetry: The Royal College of Drawing presents a 5-week course with poet-artist Sophie Herxheimer and artist Rosie Vohra, using collage techniques to create visual realisations of poetry. £210; concessions available.|
|Sat 26 September and Sat 17 October, 10.30am-1.30pm each day.||Writing Love in a Second Language: Meena Kandasamy leads a 2-session workshop for the Poetry School, on using multiple languages in the same poem. Via Zoom. £75.|
|Mon 28 September – Mon 7 December.||Hell & Back: Writing Addiction & Recovery: Keith Hutson leads a fortnightly course for the Poetry School, on writing about addiction and recovery, inspired by poets like Barry MacSweeney, Anne Sexton and Ken Smith. £109.|
|Tue 29 September – Tue 27 October.||Time Travel Studio: Jennifer Wong leads a 4-week course for the Poetry School, on reshuffling temporal sequence in poems, inspired by poets like Jorie Graham, Will Harris and Vidyan Ravinthiran. £79.|
|Tue 29 September – Tue 8 December.||Cinema of Dreams: Fellini & Poetry: Stav Poleg leads a fortnightly course for the Poetry School, on writing poems inspired by the films of Federico Fellini. £109.|
|Wed 30 September – Wed 9 December.||The Pleasure Principle: Poetry & The Wild Culture of ‘Want’: Elena Byrne leads a fortnightly course for the Poetry School, on writing poems about want, inspired by poets like Anne Carson, Ocean Vuong and Pablo Neruda. £109.|
|Thu 1 October – Thu 10 December.||Multilingual Poetry from Shakespeare Outwards: David Caddy leads a fortnightly course for the Poetry School, on writing multiligual poetry, inspired by poets like Caroline Bergvall, Jennifer K Dick, Sophie Herxheimer and RF Langley. £109.|
|Thu 1 October, 6.45pm-8.45pm, then at the same time fortnightly until Thu 26 November.||‘The Ladder is Always There’ – What Makes a Feminist Poem?: Jacqueline Saphra leads a 5-session course for the Poetry School, reading and discussing poetry by feminist writers like Margaret Atwood, Audre Lorde and Warsan Shire. Via Zoom. £95.|
|Mon 5 October – Mon 14 December.||Against the Grain: Kathryn Simmonds leads a fortnightly course for the Poetry School, on discovering new ways of writing, using methods like ekphrasis, improvisation and surrealism. £109.|
|Tue 6 October – Tue 15 December.||Poetry & Eclogue: Ritual Ecopoetics: Rhys Trimble leads a fortnightly course for the Poetry School, on writing experimental ecopoetry. £109.|
|Tue 6 October – Tue 15 December.||American Poetry of the San Francisco Renaissance: Wanda O’Connor leads a fortnightly course for the Poetry School, on writing poetry inspired by San Francisco writers like Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer, Robin Blaser and Joanne Kyger. £109.|
|Wed 7 October – Wed 16 December, with live chats 7pm-9pm from Wed 21 October and fortnightly thereafter.||The Perpetual Latin of Love: Daisy Lafarge leads a fortnightly course for the Poetry School, on writing poetry that uses scientific language, inspired by writers like Lucretius, Erasmus Darwin, Francis Ponge, Lyn Hejinian and Lisa Robertson. £109.|
|Wed 8 October – Wed 16 December.||To Be Here & There Simultaneously: Poems for/from Our Migratory Selves: Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese leads a fortnightly course for the Poetry School, on writing poetry about migratory experience, inspired by poets like Rosmarie Waldrop, Carrie Etter, Nancy Gaffield, Sascha Aurora Akhtar. £109.|
|Wed 14 October, 9pm; repeated Fri 16 October, 9am.||Transmissions: Deep Deep Dream: Occult poetry publisher Ignota Books hosts a programme of experimental rituals.|
|Thu 22 October, 7pm.||Sanatorium – Abi Palmer: The Bloomsbury Festival presents Abi Palmer performing from her poetic memoir Sanatorium. Via Zoom. £5; booking required.|
|Mon 2 November – Mon 7 December, with Zoom sessions 7pm-9pm on the first and last dates.||Language Diaries: Nina Mingya Powles leads a Poetry School course on writing personal histories of language learning and unlearning, inspired by poets like Layli Long Soldier, Nancy Campbell and Nisha Ramayya, culminating in making a zine. £100.|
|Wed 4 November – Wed 2 December.||Arrange, Layer, Combine: Poetry & Collage Studio: Zakia Carpenter-Hall leads a 4-week course for the Poetry School, on using collage techniques to revise poems. £79.|
Entropy magazine and Newcity Lit are curating listings and links for US-based online literary events, all available globally (if listening from the UK, remember there will be a time difference). Trafika Europe Radio is carrying events from around Europe.
|Ongoing until Sun 30 August, Wed-Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 12pm-5pm.||Tullio Crali: A Futurist Life: Exhibition of work by Italian Futurist painter and poet Tullio Crali. At the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39a Canonbury Square, Islington N1 2AN. £7.50/£5.50, advance booking compulsory – book now.|
|Sat 12 September, time TBC.||Voiceworks: Newly commissioned works of sound poetry and vocal music. At Iklektik, Old Paradise Yard, Carlisle Lane, Lambeth SE1 7LG. Ticketing information TBA.|
|Mon 14 – Sat 19 September, 7.30pm each night.||Troubled Island: Thee Black Swan Theatre & Opera Company performs the opera Troubled Island by William Grant Still, Verna Arvey and poet Langston Hughes. At the Bloomsbury Theatre, 15 Gordon Street, Bloomsbury WC1H 0AH. £20/£15; book now.|
|Sun 20 September, 5pm.||On Common Ground: The Life & Times of John Clare: The Crick Crack Club presents Hugh Lupton’s spoken word account of 19th-century poet John Clare. At Kings Place, 90 York Way, Kings Cross N1 9AG. £17.50. Also bookable as a live-streaming event (£9.50).|
|Tue 6 – Sun 18 October, times TBC.||European Poetry Festival: Performances by poets from throughout Europe. Programme, venues and ticketing information TBA.|
|Sat 31 October, 10.30am-4.30pm.||GRRR, ARGGH: Poems Inspired by Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chrissy Williams leads a workshop on writing poems inspired by the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. At the Poetry School, 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water SE16 2XU. £75.|
|Sat 14 November, 10.30am-4.30pm.||Window, Mirror, Knife, Disaster, and Reinvention: Poetry of Glass: Judy Brown leads a workshop on writing poems about glass, inspired by poets like Charles Tomlinson, Claire Crowther, Peter Redgrove and Michael Ondaatje. At the Poetry School, 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water SE16 2XU. £75.|
|Sat 14 November, 10.30am-4.30pm.||Voicing Public Emotion: Poetry & Politics: Carmen Bugan leads a workshop on writing political poetry. At the Poetry School, 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water SE16 2XU. £75.|
|Sat 21 November, 10.30am-4.30pm.||Stealing, Copying & Arguing: Ali Lewis leads a workshop on using textual appropriation to write poems, inspired by poets like Devid Melnick, Chrissy Williams, and Roger Robinson. At the Poetry School, 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water SE16 2XU. £75.|
|Sat 21 November, 10.30am-4.30pm.||Euphony: Poetic Sound & the Subconscious: Martha Sprackland leads a workshop on using sound when writing poems. At the Poetry School, 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water SE16 2XU. £75.|
Ongoing online provision
- 3am Magazine is running a series of features on writers in lockdown.
- The 87 Press is selling premium bundles of its excellent books to crowdfund future publishing endeavours.
- Africa Writes is seeking school teachers to participate in a project working with African poetry in primary school classes.
- AfterFM, a Colorado radio station, has a recording of London-based poet Khaled Hakim’s radio art piece Re-membering Brakhage.
- All Saints Sessions, Cheryl Moskowitz and Alastair Gavin’s music and poetry events are taking place online for the duration of the emergency; those performed so far are archived.
- Almanac Gallery is hosting companions, a series of podcast poetry readings where poets read their own work alongside that of authors who have influenced them.
- Archive of the Now, maintained by Queen Mary University of London, contains a vast array of recordings by innovative poets from the UK and beyond.
- Asia House has podcasts on Asian art and literature, including one by experimental calligrapher eL Seed.
- Banner Repeater gallery has a free download of Deeper in the Pyramid, an interdisciplinary collaboration between artist Melanie Jackson and writer Esther Leslie.
- Becoming is a series of ecologically-themed radio essays by poet Camilla Nelson, including work by other poets.
- Birkbeck, University of London, as part of its Arts Weeks 2020 festival, has writing and recorded readings by poets like Anthony Joseph, Golnoosh Nour, Keith Jarrett, Steve Willey, Matt Bates, Megan Massey and Dana Alice Niamh.
- Book Works, an avant-garde publisher, is updating its Vimeo channel with videos of performances by its stable of writers and artists.
- The British Film Institute has poet Caleb Femi’s short science fiction film Survivors’ Guilt available to watch for free.
- The British Library is maintaining access to its online collections, including recordings of many poets and writers.
- Burley Fisher Books is running an ‘Isolation Station’ with podcasts featuring favourite authors.
- Cabinet Gallery is posting recordings and texts from its roster of innovative artists and writers.
- Café OTO has been live-streaming performances, mostly (very good) avant-garde music; some of the musicians cross over into sound poetry.
- Camden Arts Centre is live-streaming and archiving its events, including its Public Knowledge series of readings and talks.
- The Children, a band consisting of musician Armorel Weston and the late poet John Gibbens, have a YouTube channel that includes recent uploads.
- Chiselhale Gallery has recordings of readings by the Octavia Poetry Collective.
- Coronet Inside Out, maintained by the Coronet Theatre in Notting Hill, has videos of performers including poet Yang Lian.
- Dead [Women’s] Poets Society is running online projects, including a ‘[Virtual] Séance’ featuring videos of readings from the work of dead women poets, plus new writing in tribute to poetic ancestors.
- Echolot Podcast features conversations with and about artists and writers, including London-based artist and poet Liliane Lijn.
- English PEN hosts its PEN Transmissions series of articles and interviews from international authors.
- Estorick Collection has videos documenting its exhibition by Futurist painter and poet Tullio Crali, plus a resource on creating Futurist poetry at home.
- European Poetry Festival presents videopoems by poets from throughout Europe as a taster for its annual festival, which has been rescheduled to Tue 6 – Sun 18 October 2020.
- fowlerpoetry is SJ Fowler’s YouTube channel, hosting a huge range of recordings from poetry event series he has curated, including Maintenant, Camarade, Poem Brut, Illuminations, the European Poetry Festival and the Nordic Poetry Festival, plus his film-poems.
- Goldsmiths CCA is hosting videos and sound works by artists from a range of disciplines, including poets like Kashif Sharma-Patel and Caleb Femi.
- Guillemot Press is hosting Eel Fest 2020, with recordings of readings from their eel-themed anthology The Creel, including performances by London poets.
- The Horse Hospital, a long-running London venue for poetry and other arts events, now threatened with closure, is seeking ephemera and documentation for an archive of its work (link leads to a GoogleDoc form).
- The Hythe, online journal of The 87 Press, is presenting Digital Poetics, a weekly series of poetry and prose.
- The ICA is hosting new audio and video works, including a piece by poet Belinda Zhawi.
- Instituto Cervantes has podcasts and videos about Spanish-language poetry.
- Laure Genillard Gallery‘s Vimeo channel has recordings of past events, including performances of texts by or about experimental writers.
- Libreria, a Shoreditch bookshop, has podcasts by or about experimental writers (Spotify account required).
- Lisson Gallery has a video tour of its exhibition of concrete poetry by Dom Sylvester Houédard, presented by curator Nicola Simpson.
- The Live Art Development Agency is compiling information and resources to support artists and art workers hit by the COVID-19 pandemic
- London Review Bookshop has podcasts of its last decade of live events, including many poetry readings.
- Modern Poetry in Translation magazine and Dead [Women] Poets are crowdfunding for a special issue of translations from poetry by dead women and non-binary people. Submissions to the journal are welcome until Mon 17 August.
- The National Poetry Library has online archives of poetry, including audio recordings of past events.
- nova, a French radio station, is hosting poet Anthony Joseph’s playlist of ‘Music for Healing’.
- October Gallery has a virtual viewing room of art by experimental writer William S Burroughs.
- Owl Call Radio is Katherine E Bash’s newly established website of poetic sound collages.
- Pamenar Press regularly posts exciting poetry in its online magazine.
- Pilots is an series of video collaborations by poet Amy Cutler and artist/musician Graham Dunning, created during April 2020.
- Poet’s Poem is a podcast where Mischa Foster Poole speaks to poets about poems that they like.
- Pushkin House, London’s Russian cultural centre, has a blog with essays about Russian poets.
- The Poetry Translation Centre has an archive of podcasts, featuring poems read in their original languages and in English translation.
- Resonance FM, London’s avant-garde radio station, boasts a number of literary programmes, plus several shows that blur boundaries between poetry and experimental music.
- The Royal Drawing School is blogging art activities to try at home, plus opportunities to share the results online; notably, there is an ‘Image & Text’ activity proposed by poet and artist Sophie Herxheimer.
- Say Your Peace: Three Recipes for Self-Care is a film hosted by the BBC and created by poets Theresa Lola, Caleb Femi and Momtaza Mehri.
- Serpentine Galleries are presenting a series of podcasts featuring artists, thinkers and writers, including poets.
- Treadwell’s Bookshop has podcasts on occult matters, including discussion of occult-influenced, modern poets like Ithell Colquhoun.
- Turf Projects, a Croydon art gallery, presents a creative writing resource by Taylor Le Melle, ‘Learn to Mis-Use English Grammar’.
- The Ukrainian Institute has recordings of live and online events about Ukrainian culture, including Ukrainian poetry.
- The Vortex Jazz Club, home of the Words & Jazz reading series, has a crowdfunder to help the venue survive hardships resulting from the pandemic.
- Walthamstow Garden Party in the Air is an online incarnation of the annual Walthamstow Garden Party, and includes Airlooms, a work by artist Rezia Wahid and poet Khaled Hakim.
- The Wellcome Collection presents a series of articles by poet Jamie Hale, concerning disabled people’s experiences of art, activism and access.
- The Whitechapel Gallery has texts by writer-in-residence Himali Singh Soin.