Sheaf Poetry Festival is a celebration of poetry in Sheffield, returning this autumn with a digital edition.
Over five days in late November, Sheaf [Digital] Poetry Festival will present a fantastic online lineup of poets including Niall Campbell, Najwan Darwish, J.R. Carpenter, Jonathan Davidson, Carrie Etter, Isabel Galleymore, Roz Goddard, Mina Gorji, Will Harris, Abi Palmer, Caleb Parkin and more. Each event will stream on YouTube with pay-as-you-feel ticket prices. There'll also be three ticketed workshops taking place over Zoom.
Read on for some highlights for Sheaf [Digital] Poetry Festival 2020.
Writing the Wind: a workshop with J.R. Carpenter
Friday 20 November, 4–6pm, £15 (advance booking only) – book tickets
Canadian-born, UK-based artist, writer, digital literature pioneer writer, and map and zine maker J.R. Carpenter leads a workshop based on her recent print and digital project This is a Picture of Wind. Exploring ways of expressing invisible forces in language and writing about huge topics like climate change in human terms.
Festival Launch Party
Friday 20 November, 7–8pm – book tickets (donation/PAYF)
Kick off the festival with poet-in-residence Genevieve Carver, young poet-in-residence Lauren Hollingsworth-Smith, and Sufi-soul musician Sarah Yaseen. Sheffield-based Genevieve Carver's first collection and show, A Beautiful Way to be Crazy, explores female experiences in the music industry. Lauren Hollingsworth Smith is a young writer from Rotherham and one of 15 winners in the international Foyle Young Poet of the Year Awards in 2019. Sarah Yaseen is a Manchester-based singer-songwriter, peace activist and broadcaster, with family roots in Kashmir. She performs solo as Sarah the Sufi – singing mainly in Urdu and accompanying herself on acoustic guitar or with Arabic darbuka – and is also a singer with Rafiki Jazz, Ruhaani and Roses of Fatima.
Hive South Yorkshire Poetry Showcase
Saturday 21 November, 1–2pm – book tickets (donation/PAYF)
Talented young poets from Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham present their work. Each poet is a member of a group at Hive South Yorkshire, a development project for writers aged 14 to 30.
Three Carcanet Poets: Isabel Galleymore, Mina Gorji, Kei Miller
Saturday 21 November, 4–5.15pm – book tickets (donation/PAYF)
Join poetry publisher Carcanet Press for readings from three poets whose collections they have recently published. Mina Gorji’s first collection, Art of Escape, deals with escapes of all kinds, particularly as they are found in the strange and darker side of nature. Isabel Galleymore’s Significant Other looks to the cast of creatures we share our world with. Kei Miller’s most recent collection, in nearby bushes, is a rich and lyrical exploration of Jamaica, its history and landscape.
Ecopoetry Workshop with Carrie Etter and Caleb Parkin
Sunday 22 November, 10am–12.30pm, £15 (advance booking only) – book tickets
This workshop will run in two halves – Recycling Words: The Possibilities of Found Materials in Ecopoetry with Carrie Etter, followed by Nature Camp: Queering Ecopoetry with Caleb Parkin. In Carrie's session, you'll look at other poets’ use of found materials in ecopoems, discuss the various effects of that use, explore ways it can de-centre the focus on the self, and give it a go yourself. In Caleb's session, you'll look into ways that binaries like nature/culture, male/female, gay/straight, ecology/technology, or animal/human be challenged through queering ecopoetry, and explore ways that drag and camp humour may help you engage with the complexity and paradoxes inherent to this type of writing.
Poetry and Translation
Sunday 22 November, 4–5.15pm – book tickets (donation/PAYF)
A discussion of translation alongside readings and a Q&A. Palestinian poet Najwan Darwish published his first book of poetry in 2000 and has since been translated into over twenty languages. Both as a poet and as a cultural critic he has had an enormous impact on Arabic literature, described by the New York Review of Books as “one of the foremost Arabic-language poets of his generation”. He'll be joined by his translators Atef Alshaer, a senior lecturer in Arabic Studies at the University of Westminster, and Paul Batchelor, a freelance writer and teacher, as well as leading Indian poet Arundhathi Subramaniam, who has also worked with translation as editor of Poetry International Web and Penguin anthology Eating God.
Finding Meaning from Madness
Monday 23 November, 7–8.30pm – book tickets (donation/PAYF)
Explore the role of poetry in understanding mental health with Caroline Bird, Sarah Wardle, and Ben Dorey. How can poetry help us understand our mental states, and can the process of writing aid emotional wellbeing, self-building and recovery? This event will feature readings and discussion from three writers who have lived through a range of diverse psychological experiences, in a mental health-friendly space.