Poetry festival takes giant steps across Canberra

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Festival director, Shane Strange

NEIL Armstrong’s famous words uttered when landing on the moon have been appropriated by the “Poetry on the Move” festival for its 2019 theme, “Small Leaps, Giant Steps”.

Trail-blazing poets from Canberra, Australia and overseas will gather for the fifth such festival which kicks off today (Thursday, October 17) with poetry readings, workshops and conversation sessions between 35 poets, including poets-in-residence Tricia Dearborn (Sydney), Kei Miller (Jamaica/UK), Alvin Pang (Singapore) and Mani Rao (India).

The 2019 festival will be held at venues cross Canberra, not just the University of Canberra, where it began.

The opening night in the main hall of Ainslie Arts Centre, for instance, will take place tonight at 6pm with the  announcement of the winners of the 2019 University of Canberra Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Learning Poetry prize, followed by “Voice.Treaty.Truth.” readings from Ali Cobby Eckerman, Samia Goudie, Alison Whittaker and Chella Goldwin.

Even vice-chancellor Deep Saini will step off-campus to the Canberra Museum and Gallery at 4.30pm on Monday, October 21, for his announcement of the UC International Poetry Prize, with a prize pool of $20,000.

Festival director Shane Strange, from UC’s Centre for Cultural Research, says he believes the event is unique because it places academic research on “poetics” into the festival program through the central event, the poetry symposium, also to be held at the CMAG earlier on Monday.

Founded in 2015, the festival is run by the International Poetry Studies Institute at the University of Canberra, whose objectives are to promote poetry as a globally valuable art form through the engagement with international, national and local poetry communities.

The festival hub will be the Ainslie and Gorman House Arts Centre and there will be evening readings at Smith’s Alternative, the National Portrait Gallery and the Canberra Museum and Gallery.

“Poetry on the Move”, October 17-21, most events are free, but registrations poetryonthemove.net are essential. All details of the program can be found at the same site.

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