Poetry festival gives voice to Tower Hamlets

Linton Kwesi Johnson Pic: Danny DaCosta

Linton Kwesi Johnson Pic: Danny DaCosta

A new poetry festival opens in Tower Hamlets today aiming to give voice to the area’s rich cultural heritage which includes communities from countries such as Bangladesh and Somalia.

The Globe Road Poetry Festival will kick off at Queen Mary University in East London until November 15 and is headlined by internationally celebrated poet and Goldsmiths alumni Linton Kwesi Johnson, the only black poet to be published in the Penguin Modern Classics.

Organiser Professor Andrea Brady said: “The festival’s international focus reflects the various languages and traditions of the East End.”

Performing alongside Johnson on Friday will be distinguished Bangladeshi poet Kaiser Haq and emerging Somali talent Caasha Lul Mohamud Yusuf.

Brady hopes the festival will “inspire people both poetically and politically – it’s about bringing audiences and writers of different backgrounds together to see what conversations can be provoked”.

Globe Road Poetry Festival brings together a number of local and international talent to explore themes of translation and technology.

On Saturday the festival proves that poetry has a place in our increasingly digitised world with audiences encouraged to try out poetry apps and debate the meaning of poetry with computer scientists. Look out for colourful performance duo Ladies of the Press who will be producing a live pamphlet of the day’s events.

Brady hopes the festival will engage audiences in a range of poetry from the traditional to the avant-garde. On Sunday, SJ Fowler, known for his experimental poetic collaborations, has curated a walk down Globe Road itself punctuated by performances responding to the history and culture of the area.

Local school students from Stebon and Randall Cremer primary schools will perform at a poetry slam hosted by Eastside Educational Trust, a Hackney based charity set up to develop young people’s creativity.

Poetry is not just the stuff of Radio four, school anthologies or London Underground adverts for train etiquette. Over the three-day event you can expect to hear verse on everything from migration and conflict to technology and artificial intelligence.

Globe Road Festival takes place at Queen Mary University of London from 13-15 November. Tickets can be purchased via the website.

By Kyra Hanson

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