Posted on 23/04/2012
Professor Jo Shapcott
Professor Jo Shapcott who teaches on the MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway and has won the Costa Book Prize and the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry will represent Great Britain for an event involving a poet from every nation competing in the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.
The Poetry Parnassus will take place on London's Southbank at the end of June. Promising to be the UK's largest poetry project, it is part of the London 2012 Festival.
Members of the public were invited to nominate their favourite poet online - over 6000 nominations were received. Anyone in the world could recommend up to three poets from any Olympic country, in order of preference.
Organisers have already signed up 153 poets, with another 28 being confirmed, but still need writers from 23 countries including Mali and Liberia. Writers already confirmed include Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney who will represent Ireland and Jang Jin Seong - former court poet to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il. He fled the regime and now resides in South Korea.
The week-long event, which runs from 26 June to 1 July, will include readings, talks and performances. It will open with a Rain of Poems, featuring 100,000 bookmark-shaped poems to be released from a helicopter in half an hour, to be caught by a crowd waiting on the Southbank Centre's Jubilee Gardens.
Poets, spoken word artists, rappers and story-tellers will read their work in over 50 languages and dialects including Wolof from Gambia, Amharic from Ethiopia, Haitian Creole, Maori and Kazakh.
The event is inspired by Mount Parnassus in Greece, which was said to have been the home of the Muses - the goddesses of literature, science and the arts in Greek mythology.