Wednesday, 27 August 2008

World-Class writers bring live poetry to Snape Proms

If you think dancing girls and eating fire belong to a good night out, and that there’s nothing wrong with a bit of moral disorder, then we’ve an event that’s just for you.

Audiences at the Poetry Prom at the UK’s Snape Maltings Concert Hall on Wednesday 27 August at 7.30pm will have a rare opportunity to hear live selected poems by Margaret Atwood and Alastair Reid, two international writers of the highest calibre.

This is the sixth year that a Poetry Prom – programmed by The Poetry Trust at the invitation of Aldeburgh Music – has been part of the popular Snape Proms series. Each of the previous Poetry Proms has attracted 600–800 people – probably the biggest single-event poetry audiences in the UK – and this year the tent is expected to be a complete sell-out. As of August 26th, 90 tickets remain of th 820 capacity.

Although Canada’s world-renowned Margaret Atwood is best known for her novels, her very first publication was a book of poetry – The Circle Game (1964) – and a further fourteen volumes have followed, most recently The Door (2007). She last visited Suffolk in 2004 when she appeared at the 16th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival – The Poetry Trust’s flagship annual event – and the Poetry Prom offers a further chance to experience the power and range of the poems that she has been writing steadily throughout her glittering literary career. Her life is one that many writers may dream of becoming their own true stories.

The octogenarian Scot and tireless traveller Alastair Reid considers language to be his constant home, and poetry – “language at its most thrilling” – his way of rejoicing in the world. His natural charisma and witty, eloquent poems were the big hit of the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in 2006. He has written more than forty books of prose and poetry including definitive translations of Latin-American writers Jorge Luis Borges and Pablo Neruda. His Outside In: Selected Prose and Inside Out: Selected Poems will be published this August.

Says Naomi Jaffa, Director of The Poetry Trust:

“It’s such a coup and an incredible privilege to present Margaret Atwood and Alastair Reid on the same stage at Snape. They’re both utterly wonderful poets and brilliant communicators live, so we’re in for a huge treat at this year’s Poetry Prom.”

For those who make a holiday of it, some wilderness tips. The setting at Snape Maltings Concert Hall is unusual and a haven for birdlife with its expansive estuary. The tidal river is a place of glistening mud and shallow open water, filled twice a day by the incoming tide and rich in wildlife throughout the year. The animals in that country surroundings, include rare seals and cormorants.

As of August 26th about 90 tickets remain, 20 of which are only made available first come first served on the door to be in the Prom, front section where you sit on a cushion. Seats are also available and cost £14. Prom £6. Contact Aldeburgh Music Box Office: telephone 01728 687110 or online It should be noted that the performance is not suitable for children.

Author note: so, how well do you know your Atwood? Did you already find ten of her works ‘hidden’ in the article?

Editor’s Notes


The Poetry Trust is one of the UK’s flagship poetry organisations, delivering a year-round programme of live events, creative education opportunities, courses, prizes and publications. The annual Aldeburgh Poetry Festival (7-9 November 2008) is the Trust’s core and most high profile activity. The Poetry Trust is based in Halesworth, Suffolk.

The annual Snape Proms are organised by Aldeburgh Music. While the June Aldeburgh Festival probes the depths of classical, contemporary and experimental music, the Snape Proms offers a more eclectic mix of performances, spanning classical, jazz, blues, folk and world music as well as comedy and poetry.


Margaret Atwood was born in Ottawa in 1939 and lives in Toronto with the writer Graeme Gibson. Canada’s most eminent novelist and poet, she has published more than thirty books of fiction, poetry and critical essays. Apart from short interludes of guest teaching, she has been a full-time writer since 1972. Her work has been translated into thirty-three languages and she has received major literary awards in numerous countries.

Alastair Reid was born in Whithorn in 1926 and grew up in Scotland. After war service in the navy, he finished his studies at St Andrews University and has subsequently spent much of his life in the Americas, North and South. A frequent contributor to The New Yorker, he has published more than forty books – poems, prose and translations of work by many Latin American writers, Borges and Neruda in particular. His poetry collections include Whereabouts (1987), Weathering (1978) and To Lighten My House (1953). On the Blue Shore of Silence (2004) is a selection of his translations of Neruda’s poems of the sea. A pamphlet of his poems, When Now is Not Now, was published by The Poetry Trust to coincide with Alastair’s appearance at the 18th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival.

1 comment:

Paul said...

This sounds like a wonderful event. And quite stunning to hear that it's attracting such large numbers.