BBC Contains Strong Language Festival will come to Coventry for the first time in September to celebrate poetry and spoken word as part of the UK City of Culture 2021 celebrations.
The annual festival will feature more than 50 Covid-19 compliant and in-person poetry events across the city from 23rd to 26th September 2021. It is the fifth year of the event which ran in Hull for three years before travelling to Cumbria last year.
“The festival’s slot in Coventry represents a fantastic opportunity for the region to celebrate contemporary poetry at a plethora of live and in-person events, after two summer seasons of cancelled or stripped back festivals elsewhere,” organisers said.
Sixteen local poets from Coventry and the Midlands, including writer and performer Siana Bangura (pictured), feature in the programme. The festival is informed by the Coventry's City of Culture key themes such as green cities and international connections as well as the city's history, culture and environment.
Highlights include poetry on prescription dispensed from the comfort of a chaise longue at the Belgrade Theatre’s pop-up Poetry Pharmacy and free poetry to take away from the FarGo forecourt, an artistically re-purposed industrial space in Coventry city centre. Mobile app Overhear will explore the River Sherbourne with a free digital poetry trail while walking tours and workshops along the riverbank will "provide participants with the opportunity to appreciate the inherent poetry streaming along its riverbed," organisers said.
As a taster for the September programme, a selection of free workshops, performances and a preview night will run in late August and early September.
Coventry will also host flagship BBC radio shows both recording and broadcasting live across the network including shows such as 5 Live’s "Afternoon Edition", Radio 3’s “The Verb” and Radio 4’s “Front Row”.
BBC Contains Strong Language 2021 is a partnership between the BBC, Coventry City of Culture Trust, writers' development agency Writing West Midlands and independent publisher Nine Arches Press. It is supported by Arts Council England, the British Council, charity Creative Lives and funding organisation Jerwood Arts.
Jane Commane, publisher at Nine Arches Press, said she was proud to collaborate "on this locally-inspired and global-facing festival that draws its inspiration and themes directly from Coventry and aims to put the city and region firmly centre-stage in our poetry landscape". She added: "The festival has something to offer everyone, plenty of chances to get involved and be inspired and will be a real showcase for contemporary poetry and spoken word at its very best.”
Sue Roberts, head of culture, art and music for BBC Audio North and director of the festival commented: “As the BBC’s flagship poetry and spoken word festival it has been fantastic to see it build year on year and I am looking forward to what the 2021 festival will bring.”
Coventry was announced as the 2021 UK City of Culture back in 2017. It beat Swansea, Paisley, Sunderland and Stoke-on-Trent to be declared the winner, after the bid team said their plans were "about changing the reputation of a city" as well as hosting a year of cultural celebration.
For more information and to book tickets, visit the website.