Arts / Poetry is in the air – and ‘on the move’

Visiting poet Arai Takako

POETRY is in the air and probably in the water too, as 75 Australian and international poets join together from today, Thursday, September 14, for the University of Canberra’s “Poetry on the Move” festival, this year subtitled “Boundary Crossings”.

Hosted by the International Poetry Studies Institute at the Centre for Creative and Cultural Research of the University of Canberra it is a three-year poetry project spearheaded by British poet Paul Munden, presently postdoctoral research fellow in poetry and creative practice at UC.

The eight-day event won’t be confined to the Bruce campus, with a symposium on Japanese women’s poetry at the ANU, readings of performances of poetry in Civic, Gorman House, the National Portrait Gallery and at Belconnen Arts Centre, where Dianne Firth’s textile exhibition inspired by poets from last year’s “Poetry on the Move” will also be on show until September 17.

One of the highlights among the 25 programmed events will undoubtedly be this year’s focus on poetry and translation, with both of Canberra’s universities collaborating.

ANU visiting fellow, Prof Rina Kikuchi, has organised an international symposium on poetry and translation with the support of the Japanese Government at UC, with a bilingual public poetry reading at 6.30pm tomorrow, September 15, in Building 1. “Women’s Voices From Japan”, will see Hiromi Ito paired with Jeffrey Angles, Takato Arai with Jen Crawford, Harumi Kawaguchi with Melinda Smith and Kayoko Yamasaki with Subhash Jaireth, as the Japanese poets read their original poems alongside readings their translator-poets. The poems have been published in “Poet to Poet: 10 contemporary women poets from Japan”, edited by Crawford and Kikuchi.

This year the festival has two invited poets in residence, Vahni Capildeo and Glyn Maxwell from the UK, who will appear in several sessions and also in a reading event with contemporary Japanese poets, Keijiro Suga and Hiromi Ito. That’s in the Main Hall of Gorman Arts Centre at 7.30pm, this Saturday, September 16

Munden has said that his idea in staging the event has been to explore “poetry’s ability to move from—and interrogate—its place on the printed page” so many but by no means all of the events will involve readings.

Although set in the milieu of a university, nor is it for academics only, involving as it does a range of practising poets from outside the cloisters. There’ll be launches, bookshop, poetry readings, a multilingual reading, workshops, a slam in a pub and a tantalisingly-titled session called “Drinks with Dead Poets” by Maxwell.

The return of “Poetry on the Move” has poetry lovers breathing a collective sigh of relief after the disappointing dearth of poetry at the recent Canberra Writers Festival, which seems incomprehensible when one considers how many poetry groups and practising poets there are in the nation’s capital.

The festival winds up with a poetry shindig on Thursday, September 21, featuring readings, anthology launches, performances and the announcement of the UC Poetry Prizes—including the University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize, one of the biggest prizes in the world.

“Poetry on the Move: Boundary Crossings”, a festival of poetry, University of Canberra campus, city centre, the Belconnen Arts Centre, and the National Portrait Gallery, September 14–21, a full program is available at “Upcoming events”, and all events are free, but bookings are essential to



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