Celtic Voices

23rd October 2015 19:00
British Museum
Great Russell St, London WC1B 3DG
Poet in the City presented an event exploring the Celtic legacy in contemporary poetry and celebrating a great oral tradition of poetry and performance, as part of the British Museum's exhibition Celts: art and identity. You can listen to full interviews with our featured poets by clicking on the audio links on the right hand side.

Welsh poet Gwyneth Lewis (the former National Poet of Wales), Cornish poet Philip Gross (Winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize), acclaimed Irish Poet Moya Cannon and rising star of Scottish poetry Niall Campbell, joined us for poetry and discussion from the four corners of the British Isles.

In the context of a long and varying Celtic legacy, which is still an unacknowledged centre of world imagination, we focus on how contemporary poetry encompasses this dialogue between past and present cultures.

The evening featured traditional Irish folk music from harpist Kathleen Loughnane and screenings of the fascinating objects and art in the Museum’s exhibition Celts: art and identity, with an introduction by The British Museum curator Julia Farley.

Philip Gross is a poet, playwright, librettist and writer for children, he won the T.S.Eliot Prize 2009 with The Water Table. His latest collaboration, A Fold In The River (Seren), with artist Valerie Coffin Price, was published in March 2015, while a new collection, Love Songs of Carbon (Bloodaxe) in September 2015, and is a PBS Recommendation. He leads the MPhil/PhD in Writing programme at the University of South Wales.

Gwyneth Lewis was National Poet of Wales 2005-2006. Her last book, Sparrow Tree (2010) won the Roland Mathias Poetry Award. In 2010 she was awarded a Society of Authors Cholmondeley Award. She was commissioned to write the 6ft high text on the front of Cardiff's Wales Millennium Centre.

Niall Campbell first collection, Moontide (Bloodaxe), was named inaugural winner of the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award (2014), and received the Saltire First Book of the Year (2014). Moontide was also shortlisted for both The Forward and The Aldeburgh Prizes for Best First Collection, and given a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

Moya Cannon first collection, Oar, won the inaugural Brendan Behan Award and, in 2001, she was the recipient of the Laurence O Shaughnessy Award (University of St. Thomas, Minnesota). In 2011 she was the holder of the Heimbold Chair of Irish Studies at Villanova University, PA.

Kathleen Loughnane is an acclaimed Irish harpist. In 1990 she cofounded the group Dordan, whose distinctive mix of Irish traditional and Baroque music led among other honours, to their winning the 1993 traditional Music Award in the Irish Entertainment Awards. She has performed and taught in Ireland and at major festivals in the US, Japan and throughout Europe.

Julia Farley is a curator with The British Museum and  is responsible for the European Iron Age collection. She has a particular interest in Late Iron Age metalwork and metalworking technologies, and recently co-ordinated the scientific analysis of silver objects from the Iron Age shrine at Hallaton in East Leicestershire.

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