There’s a new wave of poets heading to town – from viral poets to poet laureates, they’re as diverse and inventive as the form itself.
We rounded up just a few from this year’s exceptional line-up: you’ll be able to catch them in person at sessions like The Best of The Festival: Poetry and Performance and Viral and Verse…and on the page 24/7.
Here are just a few visionaries to read (and follow) now:
If you like… your Instagram feed poetic, your poetry raw, and your femininity unsanitised
Don’t miss: Rupi Kaur
From: Toronto, Canada
Because: Author, artist, performer… It might be tricky to pin a job description on Rupi, but the Indian-Canadian artist uses whatever media at hand, from Instagram to illustration, to transform experiences of pain, loss, and longing into something else: acceptance – even triumph. She self-published her book of poetry and accompanying sketches, milk and honey, because “there was no market for poetry about trauma, abuse, loss, love and healing through the lens of a Punjabi-Sikh immigrant woman”. It was met with what can only be called “wild success”, selling more than a million copies and hitting #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
Read her now: @rupikaur_
Extract: "we all move forward when / we recognize how resilient / and striking the women / around us are"
If you like… witty raconteurs, spoken word, poetry that engages with issues of gender and finding your own identity
Don’t miss: Ivan Coyote
From: Yukon, Canada
Because: award-winning author of eleven books, creator of four short films and three albums, Ivan is a self-described “road dog” who spends around 200 days each year on tour, bringing storytelling, public speaking and performance to audiences everywhere. Ivan’s eleventh book, Tomboy Survival Guide, was awarded a Stonewall Honor Book Award by the American Library Association, and long-listed for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, diving into issues of gender, identity, and class with aplomb, skill, and warmth.
Read them now: Shouldn't I Feel Pretty?
@ them here: @ivancoyote
Extract: "Somewhere in the sweat and ache and muscle, I carved a new shape for myself that made more sense to me. You should do more cardio and lift less weight, my mom told me when I was home for a visit and she saw me bulging in a T-shirt at her kitchen table. Don’t let yourself get any bigger, she said. Don’t get any more tattoos. I took this as a sign, and really buckled down on the bicep curls. Felt more like myself."
CAROL ANN DUFFY
If you like… sweeping social insight and sweeping romantic love, intense moments formed with razor-sharp technique
Don’t miss: Carol Ann Duffy
Because: Superstar poet with a capital ‘S’, Carol Ann’s critical acclaim is equal to her popular success. Much-loved and much-awarded, her agile, technically brilliant style is always grounded in accessibility, whether giving voice to the alienated or exploring the nuances of love. As she puts it: "I like to use simple words but in a complicated way.” Carol Ann was appointed Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom in 2009 and was the first woman, the first Scot, and the first openly LGBTQI-identifying person to hold this position in its almost 350 year history.
Read now: Anne Hathaway
Extract: "Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer/ utters itself. So, a woman will lift/ her head from the sieve of her hands and stare/ at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift."
HERA LINDSAY BIRD
If you like… stand up comedy, explicit confessional, thousands of girls sharing poems on the Internet
Don’t miss: Lindsay Hera Bird
From: Wellington, NZ
Because: The cult poet hit viral status with her poem ‘Keats Is Dead So Fuck Me From Behind’, and she has since been featured everywhere from Vice to The Guardian, with her work described as “fearless”, “explicit”, “provocative” and “flamboyant”. Her self-titled book of poetry was published in 2016, and her autobiographical free verse, with its emotional honesty and limber versatility between high and low culture and formal and informal tone articulates the undercurrents of life in the here and now, and forges a powerful new poetic voice.
Read her now: Keats is Dead so Fuck Me From Behind
@ her here: @HeraLindsayBird
Extract: "You might think this book is ironic / But to me, it is deeply sentimental / like... if you slit your wrists while winking–does that make it a joke? / To be alive / Is the greatest sentimentality there is."