Winchester Poetry Festival has commissioned a new event and anthology, with sponsorship from South Downs National Park Authority.
Seven poets whose lives and imaginations have been shaped by the chalk landscape of the South Downs area have been commissioned to create new work, which will be celebrated in a special event and a new anthology at Winchester Poetry Festival on Friday 7th October 2016.
Curated by Stephanie Norgate, reader in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester and published poet, the event will include readings of the seven poets’ commissioned work, and mark the launch of Chalk Poets, a collection of their poems, all of which feature or are inspired by the South Downs.
The seven Chalk Poets are Norgate, Hannah Brockbank, Lydia Fulleylove, Kate Miller, Zoe Mitchell, Steven O’Brien and Colette Sensier.
The poets selected are a mix of young, new voices and more established talent. Out of the 21 poems published, all but four are new and written expressly for the anthology.
Norgate said: "It was very exciting to be invited to curate this reading and this particular set of poems. As my fellow contributors sent me their poems, I could feel a mounting sense of excitement. As if by magic, all the poems were entirely different to one another and yet all drew on the strangeness and power of the Downland. Some poems draw on myth and legend, some on personal experience, some on history, but all evoke an ancient landscape in a modern world in language that is sensuous and evocative, at times disturbing and always atmospheric. I'm very much looking forward to the reading on 7th October as the poems work well on the stage as well as the page."
The festival’s artistic co-director Keiren Phelan said: “The Downs have poets strung along its length and breadth, from Edward Thomas to GK Chesterton. Our aim is to celebrate contemporary poets who live, or have lived, in the area – and we’re indebted to Stephanie Norgate for gathering together this unique band of writers.”
Winchester Poetry Festival aims to introduce contemporary poetry to new audiences and new poets to existing audiences, and this has underpinned its approach to creating and promoting the Chalk Poets project, which combines well-published and prize-winning poets as well as emerging literary talents.