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Runnymede Literary Festival 2017

10 (00:00) - 22/03/2017 (00:00)
R:FEST 2017

Friday 10 March

Poetry Reading

Michael Heller, Jeff Hilson, Redell Olsen

11 Bedford Square, London WC1   

Michael Heller has, for many decades, been an important American poet and critic. In 1985 he established himself as an expert on the Objectivist poets with his book, Convictions Net of Branches, and he has subsequently published separate works on George Oppen and Carl Rakosi. His critical work has also addressed contemporary avant-garde poetry, Jewish and post-Holocaust poetry and poetics. He published Uncertain Poetries (2005), a collection of essays on twentieth-century poetry. His own poetry has been widely published and collected in Exigent Futures: New and Selected Poems (Salt, 2003) and This Constellation is a Name: Collected Poems 1965-2010 (Nightboat Books, 2012).

Jeff Hilson has been a prominent figure in London poetry since the 1980s. His publications include stretchers (Reality Street, 2006), Bird Bird (Landfill, 2009) and In the Assarts (Veer, 2010). He edited The Reality Street Book of Sonnets (Reality Street, 2008) and runs the reading series Xing the Line. He teaches at the University of Roehampton.

Redell Olsen is a poet and visual artist whose work includes performance, writing and installed texts. Her recent publications include Secure Portable Space (Reality Street, 2004), Punk Faun (Subpress Books, 2012) and Film Poems (Les Figues, 2014). She was, for many years, the editor of the influential online journal HOW2 (How2journal.com), which promotes modernist and contemporary innovative poetry by women. She was Judith E. Wilson Fellow at Cambridge for 2013-14, and she is Professor of Poetry and Poetics at Royal Holloway.

Tuesday 14 March

Paper Stage: The Booke of Sir Thomas More

Moore Building Lecture Theatre

Paper Stage is a public play-reading project established by Dr Harry Newman, Lecturer in Shakespeare and Early Modern Literature at Royal Holloway. The text chosen for the Runnymede Festival is ‘The Booke of Sir Thomas More’. The play is about the Tudor lawyer, Sir Thomas More, who was put to death for refusing to recognise Henry VIII as the Supreme Head of the Church. The play was first written by Anthony Munday and, after it failed to pass the Elizabethan censor, was subsequently revised by Shakespeare and three other playwrights. The manuscript of the play is famous as the only surviving playscript to contain Shakespeare’s handwriting. The extract by Shakespeare describes the May Day Riots of 1517 whose 500th anniversary makes this a particularly apt play for this year’s festival.

Wednesday 15 March

Anthology Launch and Reading: Students from the MA in Creative Writing

Keats’s House Library, Keats Grove NW3

The MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway was established by Professor Sir Andrew Motion. Over the last ten years, it has made a name for itself as one the leading Creative Writing MAs in the country through the success of its students. Graduates of the Royal Holloway writing programme include Tahmima Anam, whose novel, The Golden Age, was short-listed for the Orange Prize; Sophie Robinson; Adam Riordan; Sarah Perry and many more.

Since it was founded, the MA has published an annual anthology of work by students, Bedford Square. The launch of this year’s anthology is an opportunity to hear work by writers from the MA’s three strands – Poetry, Fiction and Poetic Practice.    

Thursday 16 March

To Walk Invisible

Moore Building Lecture Theatre  

Dr Siv Jansson, who is a former student at Royal Holloway and a specialist on the Bronte sisters, was literary adviser for Sally Wainwright’s recent film, To Walk Invisible. The film depicted the Bronte sisters rise to fame and their brother’s decline into alcoholism. Dr Jansson will talk about the film and her involvement in the film-making process.

Wednesday 22 March

Refugee Tales

Moore Building Lecture Theatre 

Professor David Herd (University of Kent) will talk about and present the University of Kent’s project, Refugees Tales. In the fourteenth century, Geoffrey Chaucer famously produced his Canterbury Tales, a series of stories told by fictional pilgrims en route from London to Canterbury. In June 2015 and July 2016, the project organised a walk from Dover to Crawley along the North Downs Way. Authors including Ali Smith, Chris Cleave and Marina Lewyska were invited to write tales for a modern version of the Canterbury Tales by working with refugees in Britain and to read their tales at a series of public events during the walk. The walk is an integral part of the project and offers participants the opportunity to reflect on the long and dangerous journeys that many refugees make in fleeing from war and persecution. In recognition of the importance of Magna Carta for English law and human rights, this year’s July walk will begin in Runnymede and end in Westminster.    

For further information please contact:

Professor Robert Hampson, Festival Director


THURSDAY, 23 March

James Smith: ‘Taking Back Control: Understanding the New Populism’

Dr James Smith is a distinguished scholar of eighteenth-century literature who also writes regularly on contemporary politics. Tonight he will be talking about the ‘new populism’ which was manifested in the Brexit vote and, more recently, in the American election.


Moore Lecture Theatre  


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