Joe Kriss is a poet and the director of literature organisation 'Wordlife' in Sheffield who has performed and been published across the UK. Joe is widely known to gather the biggest crowds for poetry in the region. At a crucial moment in our history as UK people, Joe’s commission explores how the formation of kingdoms in the early medieval period prompts us to consider the notion of national identity today.

Digesting History has been created as part of Collections in Verse, a collaboration between Poet in the City, the British Library and Sheffield Libraries using poetry events and commissions to bring British Library exhibitions to life in four cities across the UK. The work in Sheffield was inspired by the British Library’s sold-out exhibition Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War.

Commissioned by Poet in the City and British Library for Collections in Verse 2021 ©

In preparing this project, we have, as is common, called this period of history Anglo-Saxon. However, on the point of presentation we have become aware of a conversation that challenges that terminology as racist and prefers Early Medieval. We used the term Anglo-Saxon in good faith and welcome further conversations and discussions for future projects. The continual need to re-examine history and language is at the core of Poet in the City's collaborations.