Southbank Centre's London Literature Festival 2018 was a celebration of Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey, marking its first-ever translation into English by a woman, Emily Wilson. With the Literature Festival being in its twelth year and the National Poetry Library Open Day in its tenth, our selection of curated displays on the theme of 'odyssesy' was a journey into the heart of modern poetry.
There were tables exploring the development of photopoetry from its creation in the 19th century to its appearance in smartphone culture; poets forced to flee their countries and how poetry can raise awareness of the challenges they face; a celebration of the 70th year of the NHS and how the health service has found a voice in poetry over the decades. Taking central place were the extraordinary artist’s books which invited visitors to discover the horizons of their imagination. Finally, there was a selection of last year’s poetry highlights and staff picks from the library’s holdings.
We invited poets Greta Bellamacina, A K Blakemore and Keith Jarrett to compose new work in response to our open day displays. They performed these alongside some of their published work in the library later that evening on Sunday 21 October. Listen to their performances below.