in sondry londes

Happy Whan That Aprill Day!

Arizona State University 2018

A few days before April 1, 2018…

I took part in a brilliant Chaucer Day at Arizona State University (thank you, Richard Newhauser). High school pupils were invited to hear Kim Zarins and me read our Canterbury Tales retellings, then taken on a tour of the campus including some rather delicious original manuscripts in the library. Very warm weather and Chaucer, what more could one wish for?

Been meaning for some time to do a USA retrospective since I’ve had the good fortune to be invited to several universities the past few years to celebrate all things Chaucer. Special greetings to LeVostreGC for recommending Telling Tales to all his Twitter followers, plus Jonathan Hsy and Candace Barrington of the Global Chaucers Project. It’s a whistle-stop tour so hold on tight while I take you back in time…

to my mini-tour, November 2017, when I read at Vasser College (thank you, Dorothy Kim) and got to handle some original Edna St Vincent Millay; (followed by a day trip to New York for the first time which was exciting and apologies to SUNY for not dropping in, there just wasn’t time but didn’t we have a great session in London that summer!); then Boston College (thank you, Eric Weiskott and James Smith) where I met some wonderfully keen students, one of whom wrote a review

and further back to October 2016, just BEFORE that US election, when I had the pleasure of taking part in a medieval symposium on the concept of Refuge at George Washington University; where I read The Refugee’s Tale from the Refugee Tales anthology; experienced the great felaweshipe of my wonderful hosts Jeffrey Cohen, Jonathan Hsy et al.; and took a stroll down Pennsylvania Avenue…

Selfie Outside Whitehouse 2016

Looking forward to University of Southern California this Autumn or  Fall, if you prefer. In the meantime, fellow Chaucerians, enjoy the yonge sonne…

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The Refugee Tales Walk

I was honoured to be part of this project which main aim was to call for an end to indefinite detention for asylum seekers in the UK. My poem, The Refugee’s Tale, will be posted shortly. Meanwhile, check out the Refugee Tales website; and an excellent article on The New Internationalist Blog:

Global Chaucers

DSCF2129_lonewalkerTaking a cue from Chaucer’s band of pilgrims,  participants in Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group’s Refugee Tales Walk are midway through their 9-day walk on the North Downs Way from Dover to Crawley via Canterbury. Along the way, writers, musicians and other artists will share tales inspired by the migrants and refugees: The General Prologue, The Migrant’s Tale, The Chaplain’s Tale, The Unaccompanied Minor’s Tale, The Arriver’s Tale, The Lorry Driver’s Tale, The Visitor’s Tale, The Detainee’s Tale, The Interpreter’s Tale, The Appellant’s Tale, The Counsellor’s Tale, The Dependent’s Tale, The Friend’s Tale, The Deportee’s Tale, The Lawyer’s Tale, The Refuge’s Tale, The Ex-Detainee’s Tale, and a Reprise of the Tales.

Photos and journal entries provide the rest of us an opportunity to share in the events.

Thanks to Dan Kline for alerting us to this deeply moving project.

See also, the Times Higher Education article.

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Wales Book of the Year 2015 Shortlist

On 1 May it was announced that Telling Tales has been shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year 2015 (Roland Mathias Poetry Award). I’m in the wonderful company of: So Many Moving Parts, Tiffany Atkinson (Bloodaxe Books) and My Family and Other Superheroes, Jonathan Edwards (Seren). Fastforward 8 minutes in to hear the poetry discussion.

I was in Port of Spain at the time, reading at Bocas Lit Fest and it was lovely to wake up to the video. Things have come full circle: I was introduced to Chaucer studying A’ Level English at Eirias High School, now Ysgol Eirias, Colwyn Bay. Hearing Welsh alongside English on a daily basis broadened my linguistic perspective. I fell in love with Middle English, began my poetic apprenticeship and forged my page-stage poetics right there.

Ted Hughes Shortlist: herkne and rede

I’m delighted to be shortlisted for the 2014 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. Like Chaucer’s original, Telling Tales was primarily a book written to be read, but also listened to and viewed live. Last year’s tour comprised mostly solo readings but on May 21 at the Albany in Deptford (on the original London-Canterbury route), Apples and Snakes and Renaissance One hosted a staged slam featuring several poems from the book. Here’s a preview:

I hope these short extracts make you want to hear more from that very enjoyable evening, which also included unique performances from Pete the Temp, Dfiza Benson, Shane Solanki and The Speech Painter. Watch this space for the full video.

Re:mixing the Remix – Prioress’s Tale


When I remixed the Prioress’s Tale as a rap (Sharps an Flats) in the voice of a 21-year old Black man from Southeast London, I hoped the lyrics would inspire someone to reinvent it, make it their own.

And it’s happened: Cynthia Turner Camp at UGA English Department (in Athens!!) introduced Telling Tales to her students. The talented King Atakpa has remixed my remix. Like the original, not for the fainthearted. I cried when I watched it, because it gets to heart of the piece in a totally different style to my own performance, because it creates beauty out of pain, as all art should.

Teaching the Wife of Bath through Adaptation

Loved this article on teaching The Wife of Bath by Jonathan Hsy. Enjoy.

Global Chaucers

by JONATHAN HSY

Reading Agbabi and Breeze Reading Agbabi and Watching Breeze

Here on the Global Chaucers blog we’ve addressed how Chaucerian material moves across time and space, and the variety of voices featured in this venue have explored academic research methods, translation studies, artistic creation, and online community. In this posting, I offer some thoughts on how the Global Chaucers project can shape undergraduate teaching.

A few weeks ago (in my introductory survey of literature of the early British Isles), we spent our class session discussing modern-day adaptations of Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Prologue (WBP) and Wife of Bath’s Tale (WBT). Here was the assignment posted on the course blog:

This week we discussed the description of the Wife of Bath in the General Prologue as well as her entire performance. Before our next class, please view these short online videos (modern-day adaptations of the Wife of Bath’s performance). As you watch these adaptations, consider these questions:…

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