a Blakean poetry festival
Hampstead’s legendary playhouse PENTAMETERS THEATRE is to return to its poetic roots by hosting a week-long poetry festival from late November to early December. MENTAL TRAVELLERS will feature a stellar line-up of poets and musicians inspired by the spirit of London’s genius loci, William Blake. The event coincides with Blake’s birthday on November 28.
Pentameters, now in its 45th year, was an essential part of the London poetry scene from the late Sixties onward. That original counter-cultural generation is represented in a reading of the poetry of Heathcote Williams (by his dedicated rhapsode, Roy Hutchins) and in a performance by “Children of Albion” editor Michael Horovitz; while an earlier ancestor of the British poetry underground is celebrated in AN EVENING WITHOUT DAVID GASCOYNE.
Poet-novelist Jeremy Reed, poet-musician Aidan Andrew Dun, poet-songwriter Tymon Dogg, ecopoet Helen Moore, poet-shaman John ‘Crow’ Constable, poet-painter-musician Christopher Twigg, poet-biographer Robert Fraser, poet-linguist Hilary Davies are just some of the names who will grace the stage in this extraordinary week.
‘The Mental Traveller’ is the name of a William Blake poem that seems to be an early 19th century way of saying ‘psychogeographer’. Many of the artists involved in the festival have used ‘psychogeography’ as a skeleton key into the imagination. The Poet of Kings Cross, Aidan Andrew Dun, will be the ringmaster of the BURNING TYGER REVUE, the first night’s show, while Saturday night’s extravaganza, 64,000 GENII, features The Poet of Southwark, John ‘Crow’ Constable. Stephen Watts writes London poems but mental travels to all corners of the globe via his translations. If you’ve enjoyed the prose of psychogeography, check out the poetry.
The festival, as well as featuring the living Hampstead poet Jeremy Reed, will also celebrate a dead one. AN EVENING WITHOUT DAVID GASCOYNE will be a tribute to the legendary English Surrealist poet who once lived on Tanza Road, by Parliament Hill.
Also appearing will be Gascoyne’s first biographer, Robert Fraser.
Another living poet, Heathcote Williams, will also be celebrated in a one-hour one-man show, THE TIGERS OF WRATH, by performer Roy Hutchins, who is Heathcote Williams’ official reader. (Heathcote Williams no longer does readings of his own work).
William Blake’s birthday will be celebrated by A NIGHT OF DELICIOUS SONGS, new settings of Blake poems by singer-songwriters including Tymon Dogg, Kirsten Morrison and Dave Russell.
Jay Ramsay’s evening VISIONS FOR THE WORLD TREE includes the sublime naturalism of Paul Matthews and the spoken word pyrotechnics of the Fire Poet on its bill of unabashed English mystics.
Thursday’s TAKE THIS HAMMER will showcase the interzone of poetry and music with The Children, the Sybilline Sisters and Vanessa V, as well as Michael Horovitz and John Gibbens.
Saturday night’s 64,000 GENII features Christopher Twigg reading new poems, Niall McDevitt and Helen Moore doing their male/female two-hander, as well as the Ginger Light’s amazing blend of techno-pop and fine poetry.
MENTAL TRAVELLERS will take you on a fabulous journey away from the harshness of Austerity England, the farce of Hackgate and Plebgate, and the business-as-usual of what William Blake called ‘The Opressors of Albion’.
Throughout the week, the feast will be a visionary, radical, and transformative one.
Tuesday 27th November, 8pm
BURNING TYGER REVUE
Aidan Andrew Dun & Lucie Rejchrtova, Marius Kociejowski
and Stephen Watts perform poetry and music
Wednesday 28th November, 8pm
NIGHT OF DELICIOUS SONGS
Tymon Dogg, Niall McDevitt, Kirsten Morrison and Dave Russell
play and sing original settings of Blake, on the night of his birthday
Thursday 29th November, 8pm
TAKE THIS HAMMER
Michael Horovitz, Vanessa Vie, The Sibylline Sisters (Sibyl Madrigal,
Kay Grant & Armorel Weston), John Gibbens and The Children
in a show of poetry, song and vocal improvisation
Friday 30th November, 8pm
VISIONS FOR THE WORLD TREE
Gabriel Bradford Millar, Jay Ramsay, Philip Wells – The Fire Poet,
Paul Matthews and Prue FitzGerald in a night of visionary poetry
Saturday 1st December, 8pm
Jeremy Reed and the Ginger Light, Niall McDevitt, Helen Moore,
John Constable and Christopher Twigg perform poetry and music
Sunday 2nd December, 5pm
AN EVENING WITHOUT DAVID GASCOYNE
Hilary Davies, Robert Fraser, Niall McDevitt and Jeremy Reed celebrate
the life and work of England’s greatest Surrealist poet
Sunday 2nd December, 8pm
THE TIGERS OF WRATH
Roy Hutchins performs the poetry of Heathcote Williams,
including The Tigers of Wrath
28 Heath Street
(entrance in Oriel Place)
London NW3 6TE
Nearest Tube: Hampstead
All shows, £10 / £8 concessions
Box office 020 7435 3648
Pentameters does not sell tickets online, but bookings can be made in advance by phone or email and paid (in cash) on the door