Poetry and spoken word festival returns to Hull

Contains Strong Language is back. The UK’s biggest poetry and performance festival of new writing returns to Hull this month. Bringing more than 30 events to the city over three days, leading poets and world class spoken word artists will take to the stage alongside brand new voices.

Contains Strong Language is the BBC’s national poetry and spoken word festival devoted to new work. In 2017 the festival took place in Hull, as part of the Hull UK City of Culture celebrations. It was originally planned to return in 2019, but due to the triumph of last year’s festival, and to provide important continuity and legacy from 2017 City of Culture, the festival is back in Hull to cement its reputation as a vibrant, creative and innovative city – a poetry city.  The BBC is again working with Wrecking Ball Press and Absolutely Cultured, to welcome back poets, artists and audiences from around the world.

The festival includes a broad mix of live radio broadcasts from BBC radio networks, TV and film screenings, music events, new talent stages, special poetry readings, outreach activity/workshops and cultural tours and discussion. BBC Radio 3, Radio 4, and Radio Humberside will broadcast live from the festival, with BBC Four broadcasting a specially-commissioned film – A Scottish Soldier, written by Jackie Kay – over the weekend.

See the biggest names in poetry and performance and be part of the audience for BBC radio shows with performances from Gruff Rhys, Simon Armitage, Jackie Kay alongside special tributes to Spike Milligan (I Told You I Was Ill, featuring Jessica Hynes) and Leonard Cohen, with Kathryn Williams and other renowned musicians. Sophia Jansson, daughter of the cartoonist Lars Jansson and niece of the famous creator of the Moomins, Tove Jansson, will also be in conversation with poet Amanda Dalton.

At the heart of Contains Strong Language is The Hull 18 – 18 of today’s most diverse and celebrated poets who have been specially commissioned to create new pieces of work for the festival. They are: Amanda Dalton, Jackie Kay, Simon Armitage, Louise Wallwein, Jacob Polley, Isaiah Hull, Vicky Foster, Joe Hakim, Shirley May, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Jay Bernard, Malika Booker, Kat François, Ishion Hutchinson, Jay T John, Charnell Lucien, Vladimir Lucien and Tanya Shirley.

As part of the programme, Absolutely Cultured has commissioned Home Town Story, a captivating theatrical journey through the back streets of Hull. Audiences will discover the poetry and voices that shout from the rooftops, whisper round the corners and echo through the squares. They will gather to embark on a journey of discovery of Hull’s lesser known places and the stories of its characters along the way – meeting poets, wordsmiths and artists en route who will bring the poetry to life. Local young people and community groups, as well as local and nationally renowned poets and theatre makers, are involved in this exciting outdoor piece, written by award-winning poet and playwright Louise Wallwein and directed by Mark Murphy.

Sue Roberts, Creative Director of Contains Strong Language, said: “The inaugural Contains Strong Language was a huge success with audiences and artists last year, so I’m really pleased that we are coming back to Hull in 2018 by popular request. We’ve got a packed programme filled with new commissions, premieres and developing work, performed by an exciting group of poets local, national and international. We hope there’s something for everyone here.”

Shane Rhodes, Editor of Wrecking Ball Press and Director of Humber Mouth festival, said: “It is a thrill to be involved in bringing Contains Strong Language back to Hull for its second year. Last year’s festival attracted audiences from all over the country to hear the best in poetry and the spoken word. This year will be no exception as Hull once again becomes the poetry city.”

Katy Fuller, Creative Director and CEO of Absolutely Cultured, said: “It’s great to be working with the BBC and Wrecking Ball Press to bring this fantastic poetry and performance festival back to Hull for the second year running. I’m really excited that this year Absolutely Cultured has commissioned Louise Wallwein to write a new site-specific piece, called “Home Town Story”, especially for Contains Strong Language.   We had a superb response to the festival last year and we’re grateful to the BBC for continuing to shine a spotlight on Hull as a place where excellent culture thrives.”

A mixture of free and paid-for tickets are available to book online at www.bbccsl.eventbrite.com 

The BBC’s national poetry and spoken word festival is a partnership between the BBC, Wrecking Ball Press, Arts Council England, Absolutely Cultured, 14-18 NOW and the British Council.

For more information visit www.bbc.co.uk/containsstronglanguage

Twitter: #containsstronglanguage