Chichester goes online for 2020 National Poetry Day

Chichester Poetry and the South Downs Poetry Festival are joining forces for a special celebration of poetry for the 2020 National Poetry Day on Thursday, October 1.

Alan Morrison
Alan Morrison

Organiser Barry Smith said: “Just when we’d begun to think that a return to live events might be possible, the latest COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have once again put that on the back burner.

“We’d hoped to be able to stage a live poetry reading at one of our usual venues, either Chichester Library or the New Park Centre, but that is clearly not possible this year.

“However, we are determined not to miss out on celebrating the poetical spirit in this difficult year.”

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    The plan now is to bring poetry lovers a selection of new poetry online to be uploaded in time for National Poetry Day and the rest of the month.

    Barry explained: “We had a great response to our online poetry entry to the Virtual Festival of Chichester, with over 1,500 visitors to the website browsing the poems posted by local author John Haynes, the Costa Poetry Prize winner, and a range of South Downs poets.

    “This time, we’re delighted to present another very distinguished Sussex poet, Alan Morrison, who lives in Bognor Regis. Alan was one of the headliners at the 2019 Blakefest, and 2020 marks the release of his latest volume of poetry, Gum Arabic, published by Cyberwit in the UK, India and the USA.

    “Alan is not precious about poetry, very much believing that poetry should speak to people in a way that can affect their lives. The lyrics of Paul Weller were a potent influence on Morrison’s early work. Critics have also drawn comparisons between his often polemical style and a wide range of literary poets and writers such as John Milton, William Blake and Tony Harrison.

    “Alan’s work is often characterised by a strongly social commentary and inspired by events going on in the world today. Blake is one of Alan’s great heroes, so it was a real privilege for him to be part of last year’s celebrations at Blakefest, marking the time the author of Jerusalem spent living and working in Felpham, near Bognor Regis.”

    Alan is editor of the international literary webzine The Recusant, which he founded in 2007. In August 2010 he compiled, contributed to and edited a collection of political poems entitled Emergency Verse – Poetry in Defence of the Welfare State, followed in 2012 by The Robin Hood Book – Verse Versus Austerity.

    The poems of other local writers will also feature for the online celebration of poetry. The theme for this year is vision, which Barry and Alan both feel is a very appropriate choice.

    Barry said: “It is in the most difficult times of our lives that we often turn to poetry to express our inner feelings. The current situation, when we find ourselves threatened by a terrible disease which is dealing body blows to our society, is exactly the time when we need the kind of special vision that poetry can bring – not just comforting words but expressing ways of rising to the challenge of living lives in a world in which we can change things for the better.”

    Online open mic poetry can be found on the Chichester Poetry website from October 1.

    Click on and click on the page Open Mic Poems to find the special National Poetry Day selection.

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