Poetry: The Art of the People

Poetry: The Art of the People

In an interview for the New Statesman, former Young People’s Laureate for London, and author of the ‘landmark debut for British poetry’ Poor, Caleb Femi celebrated the writers, editors and publishers who work to make poetry accessible: ‘Because that’s its original mandate: poetry is the art of the people.’ Disillusioned with teaching a curriculum that ‘stifled creativity’, Femi devoted his time as Laureate to finding ‘ways to enable young people to say what’s on their mind, to be part of any conversation that they feel shut out from, to find commonality among themselves’. This year’s poetry series celebrates those poets whose collections work to fill in the gaps in our understanding of ourselves, our society and communities and our planet – embracing diversity and tearing down the barriers to inclusion in an artform too often viewed as ‘elitist’. 


Kei Miller: Silence is Violence

Saturday 14 August 16:00 - 17:00

A few years ago, when asked what he sees when he looks at a map, Kei Miller answered ‘I see the things that aren’t there... maps are always interesting to me for what’s left out…’. These gaps and omissions were a key part of the celebrated...

Caleb Femi: Poet of the People

Sunday 15 August 14:30 - 15:30

'Caleb Femi is a gift to us all from the storytelling gods,' says fellow writer Max Porter. Femi’s exuberant words and talent saw him named as the first Young People’s Laureate for London in 2016, following his 2015 win at the Roundhouse Poetry...

Robin Robertson & Tim Robertson: Spirits of Scotland

Monday 16 August 14:30 - 15:30

Haunting, elemental and deeply charged, Robin Robertson’s writing evokes the mythology of landscapes and people, whether in Scotland or elsewhere. Most of his work takes the form of shorter poems and a new book, Grimoire, brings together some of...

Salena Godden: Bringing Death to Life

Tuesday 17 August 16:00 - 17:00

What if Death was not a faceless skeleton with a cloak and a scythe, but a working-class Black woman who shapeshifts and who has spent the whole of eternity doing her work unseen? Worn out and exhausted, Death wishes to unburden herself of the stories...

Stories & Scran

Tuesday 17 August 20:30 - 21:30

Following a highly successful event last year Stories & Scran returns, providing a platform for the dynamic and thought-provoking work created by our Citizen participants. Over the last 12 months, Citizen Writer in Residence Eleanor Thom and poet Leyla...

R-Words: Infectious Poetry for Everyone 

Wednesday 18 August 10:00 - 11:00

As we navigate the pandemic we have all learned more medical terminology and nothing has been more important than the ‘R number’, explaining the rate of infection. Yet for writer and theatre director Ross Mackay, the R number is the inspiration...

Carol Ann Duffy: ‘You Danced On the Road, Blowing Kisses’

Friday 20 August 10:00 - 11:00

‘Your vacant room / is a still-life framed by the unclosed door; / read by sunlight, an open book on the floor.’ This plaintive cry will be familiar to many empty nesters who have seen a child grow up and leave home. Written by Carol Ann Duffy, it...
Clap, snap and rap to the beat in this awesome event as the team behind My Hair presents their new picture book The Rapping Princess. Princess Shiloh cannot sing like all the other princesses, but does she have another talent? Author Hannah Lee helps...

Meet the Makar: A Toast to Scotland’s New National Poet

Saturday 21 August 20:30 - 21:30

On the 18th of August, poet and essayist Kathleen Jamie was announced as Scotland's new Makar. Jamie – who writes in English and Scots – began writing poetry as a teenager and published her first booklet at the age of 20. "Since then," she says,...

Songs from Scotland

Monday 23 August 20:30 - 21:30

In honour of Edwin Morgan’s centenary in 2020, the Edinburgh International Book Festival and Celtic Connections co-commissioned award-winning musician and composer Gavin Bryars to set five of Morgan’s poems to music. The poems, taken from Morgan’s...