Chairperson: Paul Perry

When Gerard Manley Hopkins urged Robert Bridges to ‘take breath and read with your ears', he was advocating the transformative power of reading (and hearing) poetry aloud. Taking their verse from page to stage in this exhilarating live encounter are two of contemporary poetry’s most compelling ‘performers’ of their own work.

August Kleinzahler cut his teeth on the syncopated rhythms of blues, jazz and the Beats in his native Jersey City and adoptive San Francisco. His work – colloquial, street savvy and often extemporaneous – ‘taps into a larger, inhuman force ... unpredictable and dangerous’. Sleeping it off in Rapid City – the first broad retrospective of his career – recently won the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Scottish poet, playwright and stage performer Liz Lochhead was recently confirmed as the new Scots ‘Makar’ or Poet Laureate. From her early collections like Dreaming Frankenstein (1984) and For Bram Stoker (1986) to her 2000 adaptation of Euripides’ Medea, Lochhead’s work has a strong Gothic sensibility. Yet it is also lyrical, often comic and deeply engaged with contemporary issues.

August Kleinzahler's appearance is in association with Faber & Faber and Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts.