11 April 2017

Oxford Literary Festival Week

Inside the marquee

Simon's talk (setting up) in the Sheldonian

We arrived in Oxford just in time for the Oxford Literary Festival, which is a week long celebration of writers, books, and thought-provoking talks. During the week, Blackwell's Bookshop opens up a large marquee in between the Bodleian Library buildings, across the street from their shop. The marquee has shelves and tables full of more books to browse (which we did every few days). Plus, they have a little cafe set up and some tables. Every few days, they also had a free talk given by an author of the series of books "A Very Short Introduction", on a great array of topics. 

We happened to stumble upon the talk given by Matthew Reynolds, who authored "A Very Short Introduction" on the topic of translation. We stopped in to listen, and became very interested in his talk. The audience was able to ask questions, and there were a great many questions being asked. Here is a video of his longer talk on translation.

The one event I paid to take part in was the talk given by Simon Armitage, the well-loved British poet. I only recently became an admirer of his poetry (he is lesser known here in the States) by way of his translation of the ancient text Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. I was eager to hear him talk about poetry.

The event was held in the beautiful Christopher Wren designed Sheldonian Theatre. The head librarian of the Bodleian began by asking Simon some questions about his life and his poetry, and then Simon read eight of his new poems from his new book. I wrote some notes down as he talked about poetry and how words affect him. I enjoyed hearing that, because as a writer, I could relate to his feelings about writing. I want to go back through those notes to reflect on that.

Simon read from his new book of poems called The Unaccompanied. Here is a video of him reading the poem "Thank You For Waiting", one of the poems he read that evening in the Sheldonian, which produced plenty of chuckles from the audience. Simon has a fascination with lists and a sort of dry comic outlook at things that are tragic in the real world. 

Afterwards, Simon signed books, so Mum and I joined the queue to meet Simon and get our books signed. 

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