Press Release: 8 December 2006

'Rhyming as Intimacy, Rhyming as Radicalism' The Poetry Society's annual lecture with Dame Gillian Beer 

The Poetry Society continues the success of last year's inaugural Annual Lecture with 'Rhyming as Intimacy, Rhyming as Radicalism' presented by one of the most sought after lecturers on both sides of the Atlantic, Dame Gillian Beer.

The lecture will look at the persuasive power of rhyme. Taking examples from poets including Thomas Hardy, Tony Harrison, Don Paterson, George Herbert and Ruth Padel - as well as nursery rhymes and advertising - Beer will look at how rhymes can provoke half-beliefs and resistances, weld things together or topple hierarchies and how they are, in Freud's sense, uncanny. This will be an insightful exploration into how a technique often associated with 'old-fashioned' poetry has repeatedly been (and is now) a tool for radical work.

As Beer goes on to say: "High and low can be freely paired in rhyme, making matches that stir up our assumptions about what is most valuable and what is kin to what. Rhyme takes us inside words, undoing their autonomy and revealing parts hidden in their structure".

In her distinguished career, Gillian Beer has explored the relations of the two cultures of science and literature. She was a Booker judge in 1993, Vice-President of the British Academy from 1994 to 1996, Chairman of the Poetry Book Society (1992-6), Chairman of the Judges of the Booker Prize for Fiction (1997) and a judge for the 2002 Orange Prize for Fiction. She is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her books include Darwin's Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot and Nineteenth-Century Fiction (1983, 2nd edition 2000) and Virginia Woolf: the Common Ground (1996). Dame Gillian Beer lives in Cambridge.

The event will take place at St Giles-in-the-Fields, The Poets' Church, Holborn on Tuesday 16 January 2007 at 7.30pm.

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Notes to editors

  • Dame Gillian Beer was born on 27 January 1935 in Bookham, Surrey, and was educated at St Anne's College, Oxford. On graduating she lectured at Bedford College, London, (1959-62) and Liverpool University (1962-4). A Fellow at Girton College, Cambridge, between 1965 and 1994, Gillian Beer began lecturing at Cambridge in 1966 and became Reader in Literature and Narrative in 1971. She was made Professor of English in 1989 and in 1994 became King Edward VII Professor of English Literature and President of Clare Hall at Cambridge. She holds honorary degrees from Liverpool University, Leicester University, Cardiff University, Anglia Polytechnic University and Université de Paris Sorbonne, and has been awarded medals by M.I.T., St Andrew's University and the National Autonomous University, Mexico City. Gillian Beer became a DBE in 1998.
  • Dame Gillian Beer lives in Cambridge.
  • She was a Booker judge in 1993, Vice-President of the British Academy from 1994 to 1996, Chairman of the Poetry Book Society (1992-6) and Chairman of the Judges of the Booker Prize for Fiction (1997). She is a Fellow of the British Academy and a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her books include Darwin's Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot and Nineteenth-Century Fiction (1983, 2nd edition 2000) and Virginia Woolf: the Common Ground (1996).
  • For further information about the Poetry Society telephone 020 7420 9885 or visit the Poetry Society website at www.poetrysociety.org.uk
  • St-Giles-in-the-Fields, The Poets' Church, 60 St Giles High Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 8LG

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