Literary Highlights of 2017

Tracey EminLooking back over the last few months I can hardly believe all that’s happened in such a short time. In the course of one year I have gone from blogger to literary event organiser and MA student, and am now fully immersed in Modernist poetry, as I slog on towards my first deadline. But so much has happened in between, including a smattering of literary festivals and events, so here are just five of my literary highlights from 2017:   

1) Running my own Poetry Event – the Edward Thomas Centenary

What an exhilarating experience it was, to bring people together from far flung places, as we gathered to mark the legacy of poet Edward Thomas, who died on a battlefield 100 years ago, in April 1917. Just five months of research and planning, and suddenly there we were – reading our poems, seeing the original drafts of his poems, and celebrating that magical yet elusive aspect of poetry – the passing on of one poet to the next, down the generations. Read more here.

Edward Thomas 100 poetry reading

Jonathan Edwards reading at the Edward Thomas centenary event on 21st April (photo by Dave Daggers)

Ruby Robinson

2) Attending the first Verve Poetry Festival

This was an incredible, vibrant mix of entertaining spoken word and thought-provoking verse, with a full weekend covering every style of poetry you can think of, and plenty of fun. I’m heading back in 2018 to check out their workshops, as I have heard good things. Read more here.

3) Stewarding at the Hay Festival

I would certainly recommend stewarding at Hay to anyone who loves literature. It’s exhausting but inspiring and every day you will come across something unexpected and intriguing. My highlights this year included hearing Tracey Emin speak about her career as an artist, and hearing Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (from Russian punk band Pussy Riot) talking about her time in prison, when she corresponded with Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek, whilst also working 16 hours a day. Read more here.hay 30

4) Poetry and Music at The Ledbury Festival

As well as the opportunity to hear expert advice from three of the UK’s best poetry editors, the highlights included an atmospheric performance of music and poetry from Jacqueline Saphra, and a reading from Katherine Towers from her evocative collection The Remedies (which I ended up buying). Read more here.

katherine towers

Katherine Towers at the Ledbury Festival

5) Beginning an MA in Creative Writing

It was a big decision, but after several years of working life, I decided it was time to go back to the world of academia, and have begun a distance learning MA in Creative Writing. It’s part time, hence why I’ve been neglecting my blog recently (as paid work and study begin to gradually take over) but I’m loving it so far. This term we’ve been focusing on twentieth-century poetry, and I’ve re-discovered the delights of Wallace Stevens, Sylvia Plath and William Carlos Williams. I’m currently up to my neck in end-rhymes and imagery, delving ever deeper into the allusive vortex of Modernism.

So there you have it – my literary highlights of 2017. There have been many more, including the launch of my brand new ekphrastic creative writing group and the second Cardiff Book Festival, and I’m sure there will be plenty more to come in the year ahead. Please do use the comments below to share your own literary highlights of 2017…

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