Banned Books Week: Poetry in Protest

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This event took place on: 29 September 2021.

Meet poets at the frontlines of protest movements fighting for the right to speak freely and without fear of persecution.

Poetry is frequently used as a tool in protest movements to inspire, unite, and mobilise support. From Black Lives Matter and women’s liberation to protest movements in Myanmar and Afghanistan, poetry holds the power to gather crowds during a rally, or grab attention online. Poets can offer support and guidance in the most challenging, tragic or dangerous situations. Join Myanmarese-British poet ko ko thett and poet and scholar Dr Choman Hardi for a live poetry reading and conversation about the power of poetry in protest movements.

In celebration of Banned Books Week 2021 with the theme “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us,” Index on Censorship and the British Library invite you to explore the role of poetry in protest. What role does poetry play in protest movements? And can poetry be a form of protest in its own right?

Speakers

Forward Prizes for Poetry 2020

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This event took place on: 25 October 2020.

The Forward Prizes rank among the year’s great literary celebrations: this event is unmissable for anyone interested in the best new poetry published today. Hear poems from each of the 15 shortlisted poets and find out who has won the most coveted poetry prizes in the British Isles.

Shortlist for Best Collection: £10,000
Caroline Bird, Natalie Diaz, Vicki Feaver, David Morley, Pascale Petit

Shortlist for Best First Collection: £5,000
Ella Frears, Will Harris, Rachel Long, Nina Mingya Powles, Martha Sprackland

Shortlist for Best Single Poem: £1,000
Fiona Benson, Malika Booker, Regi Claire, Valzhyna Mort, Sarah Tsiang

Poems of desire – for a voice, for breathing space, for bodies missed or missing – are a recurring theme in this year’s shortlists. They celebrate a world whose inhabitants are spurred to song by the need to assert their own existence and history. They speak of flesh, muscle and all forms of touch, from the knock-out blows of boxer Tyson Fury to lovers’ kisses.

Several poets follow threads of language to places as various as the Dale Farm traveller site, a palace-prison in 16th-century Spain, an East London housing estate and the Mojave reservation of southern California, while others make vivid the stuff of everyday life: birdsong, lawnmowers, petrol stations.

The Forward Prizes judges, Alexandra Harris, Kim Moore, Roger Robinson, David Wheatley and Leaf Arbuthnot read over 208 poetry collections, and 205 single poems entered from journals, to find the most exciting poetry published across the UK and Ireland.

The Prizes, sponsored since 1992 by Bookmark, the global content marketing and communications agency, have a reputation for heralding fresh new voices as well as honouring famous names. Shortlisted and commended poems are brought together in the annual Forward Book of Poetry anthologies.

This event is available to the audiences and users of public libraries through the Living Knowledge Network.

LGBT+ History Month 2021 Launch: Body, Mind and Spirit

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This event took place on: 6 November 2020. 19.30.

Each year ‘Five Faces’ are chosen to represent the theme of LGBT+ History Month. To mark the 2021 launch, join us for an evening celebrating the lives of the five selected icons: Maya Angelou, Mark Ashton, Michael Dillion, Lily Parr and Mark Weston.

Museum expert Dan Vo is in conversation with representatives from cultural organisations across the country on the theme for 2021 – Body, Mind and Spirit – and explores how these individuals embody the concept.

Maya Angelou was a renowned poet and internationally recognised civil rights activist, her works were often taught in schools in Britain. Story presented by Haringey Vanguard Projects and freelance historian and writer Kamara Dyer Simms who has been published by Gal-Dem.

Mark Ashton has been immortalised by the award-winning 2014 film Pride. Mark was a community activist and founded Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners in 1984. Story presented by LGSM and Mike Jackson, Co-Founder and Secretary of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners.

Michael Dillon dubbed Bristol’s most famous trans resident. Dillon was a British physician and the first Western European to be ordained a Buddhist monk. Story presented by Bristol M Shed and author Cheryl Morgan, Co-Chair of OutStories Bristol.

Lily Parr was an English professional women’s association football player and is the only woman to be an inductee in the English Football Hall of Fame at the National Football Museum. Her story is presented by the National Football Museum and Lou Englefeld, Director of Pride Sports UK.

Mark Weston known as the Devonshire Wonder, was one of the best field athletes in the 1920s and represented Britain in the international arena, including the Olympic Games. Story presented by University of Plymouth and Alan Butler, Co-Director of Pride in Plymouth.

LGBT+ History Month is an initiative by Schools OUT UK that focuses on the celebration and recognition of LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, plus) people and culture, past and present; increasing the visibility of diverse LGBT+ histories, lives and their experiences. It has been celebrated every year in the UK since 2005.

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