A New Lyrical Ballads

Last night I went to this poetry event: A New Lyrical Ballads, part of Bristol Festival of Ideas’ season of talks exploring the connection between Bristol and The Romantic Poets. Twenty-three poets were commissioned to write new works ‘in the spirit of romanticism’.

I must admit that I haven’t read much poetry since studying for A Level English Lit, and I haven’t strayed far from Sylvia Plath and T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land since. More fool me. My husband convinced me that this event would be a corker – he’s the poetry buff in this household and writes prose poetry. Several of his favourite poets would be reading.

The idea of ‘lyrical’ attracted me because lyrics were the first type of writing I ever did, and that led on to writing picture books, which require a similar type of structure and rhythm. Indeed, some of the poets last night spoke of the ‘economy of words’ in poetry, which is also an important facet of writing picture books and graphic novels (my current work in progress). I’d also stumbled over the Romantic Poets in the course of researching my book – the Romantic era being a period when motherhood was much sentimentalised in literature.

Although poetry is not usually a medium I read, I found much to offer here and ‘discovered’ some poets’ work I’d like to read more. In my drawings of the event I became interested by how each reader held their paper – aloft and confident, tentative or grasped. Ian McMillan introduced each poet, so bits of him are dotted around. It was dark, and I found it hard to focus from bright lights to shady page, plus I need to get this middle-aged eyesight situation sorted!

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3 thoughts on “A New Lyrical Ballads

  1. I also haven’t previously read much poetry, Paula, but I found my “in” with poetry comics – not the illustration of a poem with comics, but the sculpting of text and image together in order to create a particular kind of poetry that depends equally on both. Bianca Stone is the example I found first, but there are a few others out there – Simon Moreton has also been doing some work in this direction for example. Poetry Comics seem, to me, to bridge the gap between the creative use of written language in poetry and the creative use of visual sequence, focus and subject which forms the language of comics. I’ve now started to create poetry comics about archaeology, and find the process really useful for exploring both text- and image-based responses to an open-ended, vaguely-defined or personal/emotional subject. Check out “Ink Brick” – an anthology of poetry comics (http://inkbrick.com/).

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