The Past and Present sessions at this year’s StAnza Poetry Festival cover an extremely varied collection of poets. Basil Bunting, William Blake, Raymond Carver, H D (Hilda Doolittle), T S Eliot and James Thomson (B.V.) have been chosen by August Kleinzahler & Chris Jones, Adrian Mitchell, Tess Gallagher, Penelope Shuttle, Annie Freud and Tom Leonard respectively.
I try to research these sessions well in advance, concentrating on the poetry of the Past Poets of course, but also looking in to the background of the Present Poets who will be reading and discussing the work of their selections. Each year, this keeps me very busy during January and February in the run-up to the Festival, but it’s always a pleasurable kind of busy.
I’m familiar with the work of some of the poets – Blake and Eliot particularly – but I’m grateful for the chance to immerse myself more fully in the poetry of Bunting, Carver and H D than I had previously, and James Thomson was someone I hadn’t read before. His The City of Dreadful Night is a dystopian masterpiece.
Audiences at past sessions have been large and appreciative, so I recommend that you book your tickets early, via the website.