Institute of English Studies takes Newcastle’s poetry festival online 

Thursday 14 May 2020

The Institute of English Studies (IES) has partnered with the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts (NCLA) to launch Inside Writing, a digital poetry festival. It will fill the gap left by the cancellation of the annual Newcastle Poetry Festival due to the ongoing Covid-19 emergency.

Throughout May, June and July, NCLA will host a series of online digital poetry events over Twitter and Facebook featuring some of today’s most exciting poets. They will perform new work, issue challenges and writing prompts, and discuss how the pandemic has affected their work. 

Inside Writing asks writers, readers and enthusiasts what effects living under lockdown has had on their writing, and what kinds of literature will emerge as a result. 

Alongside these performances and prompts, the IES is commissioning writers and academics to respond to the work of Inside Writing poets. They will produce creative micro-essays under the banner ‘Reading and Responding’ as part of the IES’s ‘Literature in Lockdown’ series. 

Commenting on the project, Professor Clare Lees, director of IES which is part of the School of Advanced Study, University of London, says “Poets and readers meet on the page when they cannot in person, and book historians remind us how material is that meeting.”

IES ‘Inside Writing – Reading and Responding’ posts can be read on the Literature in Lockdown website. They can also be accessed by following the IES on Twitter (@IES_London), Facebook, and signing up to the IES Newsletter.

Inside Writing poets include Inua Ellams, Sasha Dugdale, Rishi Dastidar, Carolyn Forché, W N Herbert, Jackie Kay, Sean O'Brien and Imtiaz Dharker. The project aims to inspire readers and writers to reflect on their experiences of witnessing the outbreak of Covid-19 and the global response, and submit their responses in any form, for publication on NCLA’s archive website.

The Poetry Book Society (PBS), another partner of the Inside Writing festival, will co-host a showcase reading of recently selected poets.

“I’m delighted to see the launch of NCLA’s Inside Writing digital poetry festival this week – a real cause for celebration at a time of such national uncertainty,” comments NCLA director Sinéad Morrissey. “There’s a lot of wonderful new work coming up soon so do stay tuned to our social media channels and get involved with the challenges. We’re looking forward to the wider conversations the festival will spark about creativity, crisis and change.”

Festival events, which have already started, run until 31 July, and can be accessed and viewed by following NCLA on Twitter (@NCLA_Tweets) or Facebook.

For more information, contact John Challis (NCLA) / 07816 778899, or Eleanor Hardy (IES).