Sunday 26th May 6:00pm
“In the world of British poetry Carol Ann Duffy is a superstar” The Guardian
“Duffy is magnificent, grounded, heartfelt, dedicated to the notion that poetry can give us the music of life itself” Scotsman
It is a huge honour to present Carol Ann Duffy, one of the most important and best-loved voices in contemporary British poetry.
Born in Glasgow in 1955, Duffy published her first full-length collection, Standing Female Nude, in 1985. This was followed by Selling Manhattan (1987), The Other Country (1990), and Mean Time (1993), which won an award from the Scottish Arts Council, the Forward Prize and the Whitbread Prize for Poetry. ‘Prayer’ from this volume, a sonnet that concludes with the mantra of the BBC shipping forecast, has become one of her most loved poems. Next came The World’s Wife (1999), a brilliant series of dramatic monologues from the wives of famous men from history (there’s Mrs. Midas, Mrs. Faust, Mrs. Darwin). Feminine Gospels followed in 2002, the same year Duffy became CBE (having received an OBE in 1995). In 2005, Picador published Rapture, 52 poems charting the rise and fall of a love affair, which won the T.S. Eliot Prize.
In 2009, Duffy was appointed Britain’s Poet Laureate, the first woman and Scot to hold the position in the 400-year history of the award. Her laureateship has been marked by her generous creation of opportunities for other poets, and she notably donates her Laureate payment as a Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry.
Duffy’s most recent collection, Bees, described as “swooningly glorious” by The Times and “indisputably her best volume” by The Sunday Times, was published in 2011.
Carol Ann Duffy lives in Manchester, where she is Professor and Creative Director of the Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Wednesday 29th May 6:00pm
This edition of Philosophers in the Library will explore the shifting meanings of the concept of law.
"Law" is one of the words which we use every single day without stopping to think about it: “That’s not fair.” “I know my rights.” “Isn’t that against the law?” But different countries have radically different ways of understanding these general terms, shaped by the twists and turns of history, legal philosophy, and street-level culture. Does the French “loi” mean what English and Americans mean by “law”, or is it more specific? What do the French mean by the word “droit”, and how does this relate to the idea of fairness or rights used in the Anglo-Saxon world? Join a conversation led by Gregory Bligh, doctoral student in legal philosophy at Paris II and the French child of English parents, for an exploration of law, rights, and fairness in two very different languages.
Monday 3rd June 7:00pm
We are delighted to welcome Michelle de Kretser on her stunning new novel, Questions of Travel.
Laura travels the world before returning to Sydney, where she works for a publisher of travel guides. Ravi dreams of being a tourist until he is driven from Sri Lanka by devastating events.
An enthralling array of people, places and stories surround these superbly drawn characters – from Theo, whose life plays out in the long shadow of the past, to Hana, an Ethiopian woman determined to reinvent herself.
Michelle de Kretser illuminates travel, work and modern dreams in this brilliant evocation of the way we live now. Questions of Travel is infused with wit, imagination, uncanny common sense and a deep understanding of what makes us tick.
“Novel by novel, the Sri Lankan-born Australian has emerged as one of the most fiercely intelligent voices in fiction today. This new work, her most ambitious yet, makes globalisation and its discontents the focus of a multi-faceted story that unites grandeur and intimacy” Boyd Tonkin, The Independent
Sunday 9th June 6:00pm
We are thrilled to welcome one of the world’s most mesmeric performers.
Saul Williams is an American poet, singer, musician, writer and actor. His work crosses boundaries and genres, but is united by his incredible talent for using words and beats in spell-binding performances. He started his career as an open-mic poet, winning the title of Grand Slam Champion at the Nuyorican Poets Café in 1996. Soon after, he featured in the film Slam (as both actor and writer), which won the Sundance Festival Grand Jury Prize and the Cannes Camera d'Or. Saul Williams has collaborated with Nas, the Fugees, Blackalicious, Erykah Badu, and Nine Inch Nails, among many others. He released his much acclaimed, self-titled debut album in 2004.
Saul Williams is the author of four collections of poetry and, most recently, editor of the anthology Chorus: A Literary Mixtape, described as an anthem for a new generation of poets. Williams’s latest album, Volcanic Sunlight, was released in 2011. When asked about the purpose of poetry in a film that followed, he gave this response: “It is the window that opens, that allows some air in, some other insight, some other possibility so we can explore all that we feel, all that we think but with the space to see more than what we know, because there is so much more than we know. If I didn't open myself to the possibilities of the unknown, then I would be lost."
http://www.saulwilliams.com/ – Saul Williams’s website
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cp-KwrzwpJI – Saul Williams: ‘DNA / Coded Language’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_vUmvAXaWc – Saul Williams: ‘Explain My Heart’
Thursday 13th June 7:00pm
In Collateral Damage, three linked novellas explore the lasting effects of the Vietnam War on people living in its shadow – including both those who fought and those who didn’t. These stories from one of American history’s most divisive eras show us that Vietnam may not be as far behind us as we think. Who goes to war and why – and the consequences for them and the people who love them are issues that we still face today.
A Small Press Distribution summer bestseller in 2012, Collateral Damage received the Bronze Medal for Literary Fiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards in May 2013. It was also a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. For more information: www.collateraldamage.us
Alice K. Boatwright is the author of dozens of short stories that have appeared in journals such as the Mississippi Review, Paterson Literary Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, Penumbra, America West, Storyglossia, and Stone Canoe, as well as anthologies of women’s writing published by Crossing Press. Since 2004, she has worked as a freelance writer, dividing her time between Paris and the U.S.
Monday 17th June 7:00pm
Join us for a summer’s evening of verse with three wonderful poets – Chris Garrecht-Williams, Tino Villanueva, and Alejandro Murguía, the San Francisco Poet Laureate.
Chris Garrecht-Williams has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University, where he was a 2010-2011 Teaching Fellow. He is a Senior Poetry Editor at Narrative Magazine, and his poems have appeared in Forklift: Ohio, The Chattahoochee Review, Beecher's Magazine, The Chiron Review and elsewhere. Chris Garrecht-Williams will be reading as part of our New Writers’ Series.
Tino Villanueva writes and also paints. He is the author of seven volumes of poetry, including: Shaking Off the Dark (1984); Crónica de mis años peores (1987); Scene from the Movie GIANT (1993), which won a 1994 American Book Award; Primera causa / First Cause (1999); and So Spoke Penelope (2013). His poems appear in many high school and college textbooks, and his paintings on the covers and inside pages of U.S. and international cultural journals: Nexos (Mexico City), Green Mountains Review, TriQuarterly, Parnassus, MELUS, Sigila (Paris), and Connecticut Review. Six of his poems have been anthologized in The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature (2011). He teaches at Boston University.
Alejandro Murguía is the author of Southern Front and This War Called Love (both winners of the American Book Award). His non-fiction book, The Medicine of Memory, highlights the Mission District in the 1970s during the Nicaraguan Solidarity movement. He is a founding member and the first director of The Mission Cultural Center. He was a founder of The Roque Dalton Cultural Brigade, and co-editor of Volcán: Poetry From Central America. Currently he is a professor in Latina Latino Studies at San Francisco State University. He is the author of the short story “The Other Barrio” which first appeared in the anthology San Francisco Noir and recently filmed in the street of the Mission District. In poetry he has published Spare Poems, and this year a new collection called Native Tongue. He is the Sixth San Francisco Poet Laureate and the first Latino poet to hold the position.
Thursday 20th June 7:00pm
B.J. Novak is an actor, writer and comedian, best known for his contributions to Emmy Award-winning comedy ‘The Office’. In addition to starring as Ryan, the temp-turned-boss-turned-temp, Novak also served as an executive producer for the series and scripted many of the show’s most memorable episodes. Novak has also been featured in films such as Quentin Tarantino’s acclaimed WWII epic, Inglourious Basterds.
First discovered as a stand-up comedian, Novak continues to perform live at theatres, clubs, and universities. For this event, he will be workshopping his first book, a work of comedic fiction, scheduled to be published by Knopf in 2014.
Friday 21st June 6:00pm
Dr. Heidegger or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (with Darren Frey)
Both folk psychology and actual empirical research suggest that technology impacts our ways of thinking. Heidegger anticipates such speculation by reflecting on the essence of technology. Instead of merely positing correlations between technology's prominence and certain modes of thinking, he suggests that one's very posture toward the world is brought into question and sometimes framed by technology. The urgent questions, Heidegger argues, do not take the correlative form: eg., Does Facebook weaken one's actual social attachments? This talk will present the questions concerning technology that Heidegger thought were most important while outlining the general contours of his own thought. So it is open to anyone regardless of their background in philosophy.