Press release: 22 August 2005

LIVING TRADITION - A reading in London's beautiful and historical Poets' Church for National Poetry Week (2 - 8 October 2005)

The Poetry Society is delighted to inaugurate its association with St-Giles-in-the-Fields - The Poets' Church - and the London Review Bookshop during National Poetry Week with a Nine Poets' Reading on October 4th at 7.30 pm.

Moniza Alvi, Colette Bryce, Elaine Feinstein, David Harsent, Adrian Mitchell, Robin Robertson, Jo Shapcott, John Stammers and Hugo Williams

will read from their own work and that of nine earlier poets associated with The Poets' Church:

Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, George Gordon Byron, George Chapman, John Dryden, George Herbert, Andrew Marvell, John Milton and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

"In a week when poetry is celebrated all over Britain, St-Giles-in-the-Fields is the ideal place to celebrate the living tradition of poetry in English, and the way poetry's history joins hands with the present and the future. Many people, when they think of English poetry, think of the countryside. But it tends to be printed and sold in the city. Poets have lived, worked, and been buried in London, and a surprising number around St Giles-in-the-Fields. George Chapman (1559-1634), the first poet to translate Homer into English, was buried in St Giles's churchyard. There is a monument to him within, and another to Edward Herbert of Chirbury, poet brother of George Herbert. Milton (1608-74) lived in the parish. In 1647 he brought his daughter Mary to the second church on the site, to be baptised. Marvell (1621-78) lived a few streets away from the church and was buried in it in 1678. Byron (1788-1824) had his daughter Allegra baptised in its font on the same day that Shelley (1792-1822) baptised his children William and Clara. In 1845 Elizabeth Barrett (1806-1861) married Robert Browning (1812-1889) at the communion table in the south aisle, which previously stood in St Marylebone Church. St Giles-in-the-Fields has many other associations with poets. Charles Wesley, for instance, preached from the pulpit. Of his thousands of Christian poems, many were set to music as hymns and carols, like Hark the Herald Angels Sing, or Love Divine, All Loves Excelling. But nine, the number of the Muses, will do for a start, as the Poetry Society inaugurates its association with this wonderful church. Come and listen to living poets celebrating their own - and your - poetic tradition." Ruth Padel, Chair of the Poetry Society

The reading will be chaired by Ruth Padel. Wine will be provided. Tickets are £10/£5 concessions and Poetry Society Members.

To book tickets telephone the Poetry Society events line 0207 420 9896 or email [email protected].

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Notes to editors

  • St-Giles-in-the-Fields, The Poets' Church, 60 St Giles High Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 8LG
  • This year's National Poetry Day is Thursday 6 October and the theme is 'The Future '. To find out more about all that's happening for National Poetry Day visit the Poetry Society website at .

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