Thursday, 27 June 2013

Seamus Heaney's poetry reading

Wednesday was a quieter day. After the excitement of the past few days (Ross Noble's impromptu visit had us scurrying around to make sure that he was properly accommodated), we were grateful for a short break in the afternoon before it all started again in the evening.

To help build the hype for Seamus Heaney's poetry reading we ran a quick social media competition, requesting - on Twitter and Facebook - haikus about York. 

Enthusiastic social media types quickly warmed to the theme. Some haikus tugged at the heart-strings:

Some were more jovial:

And some were a little more questionable:

The winner, as judged by our expert panel of five Comms Office staff, was this somewhat traditional haiku, which subtly alluded to the upcoming graduation ceremonies:

We met Ms Bialkowska at the evening, and she was thrilled to have the chance to see Seamus Heaney speak. As, of course, were all the Festival team! 

Here's the evening in pictures:

Seamus gathers himself before his talk (left) and stands with Professor Hugh Haughton from the Department of English (right). Hugh invited Seamus to York to speak on the evening.

Hugh delivers a compassionate introductory speech

An expectant audience

 A short Vine clip of Seamus taking to the stage. Make sure your sound is turned on, to get a sense of the loud and long applause that greeted him.

 Seamus read a diverse selection of his poetry. He concluded his reading with 'A Peacock's Feather', above, from his 1987 book of poems called 'The Haw Lantern'.

Seamus sat with Hugh afterwards and answered questions from audience members. 

Our favourite:
Q: 'My brother's studying your poetry at GCSE, and he summed it up as 'Death and Potatoes'. What do you think of that?
Seamus: Genius.

Seamus leaves the stage, waving to a still-captivated audience.

Today, we're back to work straight away. We're in the Belmont Room at Bettys, where author Lucy Lethbridge will talk on 'Servants: A downstairs view of 20th-century Britain' at 12.30pm. At 2pm, the 'Northern Editor' of the Guardian will deliver a talk on 'Grim tales: How literature has demonised the North', and at 7.30pm poet and novelist Ciaran Carson will speak, giving a live recitation of his elegy to Belfast, The Star Factory. This event concludes the Ireland: North and South theme.

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