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.

Telling Tales Tour Update

Slam at the Albany, Deptford

Slam at the Albany, Deptford

B-side

B-side

I have a lovely reading coming up Friday 16 May at Lyric Sheffield. Not part of the official tour but a translation workshop where I talk about what I did with the original Chaucer followed by an evening performance with the supremely talented Sinead Morrissey.

Then Lo Deptford! Wednesday 21 May, a gig very close to my heart: the Albany staged slam. Eight carefully selected poets performing Telling Tales poems in their inimitable styles. When I wrote the work I imagined a huge range of voices from ‘every shires end’ and that’s what you’re going to get. This event is the embodiment of the book. ‘May the best poet lose, as the saying goes…’

Happy Publication Day!

The Litel Boke

The Litel Boke

Today is the official publication day for Telling Tales. Hooray!

The photo was taken by the wonderfully talented Lyndon Douglas at The George Inn, Southwark. It’s the previous version of the cover but I think it looks rather good if I say so myself. Credit must go to the Canongate inhouse designer, Peter Adlington.

Below is the link for the first of a sequence of films to celebrate the creation of the book. As you will see, the camera chose to freeze on a particularly poetic grimace. The featured poem, Sharps an Flats, isn’t mentioned in this film but it gives you a flavour of one of the many voices in the book.

http://www.canongate.tv/discover/patience-agbabi-introduces-telling-tales/

Whan that Aprill…

To celebrate #Whanthataprilleday I don my medieval hoodie and read the opening of the Book of the Tales of Caunterbury. The birds are singing in the trees, the blossom is out and my hay fever is raging. But I am happy to lose myself in the mellifluous Middle English, to pay homage to my favourite poet, Chaucer, who inspired Telling Tales. Happy Whanthataprilleday everyone!