PEACE and reconciliation will be the focus of this year’s Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival.
The festival, running from June 17 to 24, will feature a diverse programme commemorating the centenary of the end of the First World War, with poetry and readings reflecting the ongoing need for peace and reconciliation throughout the world.
Organised by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the festival will open with recitals by Christopher Eccleston and Niamh Cusack – both currently starring in Macbeth at the RST.
They will present an evening of poetry inspired by the final words printed in the First Folio of Shakespeare’s works – “Washed with such a Peace” – from Cymbeline.
Dr Paul Edmondson, festival artistic director and head of research at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said: “Poetry continues to provide peace in our broken world.
“We’re also marking the centenary of the death of the First World War poet, the great Wilfred Owen, so peace and reconciliation are very much the golden threads through from that time to ours: a gold we need constantly to mine, and for which we will always long.”
Other festival highlights include an evening with Tony Harrison; a focus on the poems and letters of Wilfred Owen; Costa Poetry Award-winner Alice Oswald; an evening of songs, poetry and merriment around the bonfire in the garden at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage; a celebration of poetry focusing on the experiences of women in the First World War; a poetry mass in the Guild Chapel; and a poetry open mic night.
This year’s programme also features original works by local schoolchildren, community groups and poetry fans as part of the Black Box Poetry project supported by Arts Council England. Over 100 young people have teamed up to create inspirational poetry through the words of peace, culminating in a performance on Saturday June 23.
And a new poetry competition is now open for entries. Writers of all ages are invited to honour the end of the First World War with poems on the theme of peace and reconciliation. Entries must be no longer than 200 words and should fit on a single side of A4 paper. Send entries to competitions@Shakespeare.org.uk before the closing date of May 28. Supported by Stratforward BID, the winning entry will receive £300 cash prize, and up to ten runners-up will have their poems displayed in shop windows in Stratford.
Visit www.shakespeare.org.uk/events for tickets and further details.