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Lyric 2014: Wednesday 14 May–Saturday 17 May

Welcome to Lyric 2014, the University of Sheffield’s festival of the written and spoken word.

This is the fourth year of a festival that has grown in strength and ambition, offering a stage, a spotlight and a microphone to talent and creativity from within the University and from the city of Sheffield, as well as featuring writers and word artists of national and international repute.

Full details of this year’s line-up are below.


MA Student Showcase with Agnes Lehoczky and The Poetry Business

  • Wednesday 14 May
  • 6.00pm, Mappin Hall
  • Free entry, but booking in advance is essential. Reserve your tickets

Agnes LehockzyOur annual Lyric student showcase. Current students from the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Sheffield will read a selection of their newest and most exciting work. They will be joined by Agnes Lehoczky, a Hungarian-born award-winning poet who teaches creative writing at the University of Sheffield and launches her third poetry collection, Carillonneur, at this event.

We will also be launching CAST: The Poetry Business Book of New Contemporary Poets (edited by Simon Armitage, Joanna Gavins, Ann Sansom and Peter Sansom) and celebrating four years of the fruitful creative partnership between Lyric and The Poetry Business. Agnes and the MA students will be joined by a number of poets from the CAST anthology.

Simon Armitage and Professor Tony Ryan: In Praise of Air

  • Thursday 15 May
  • 7.30pm, Firth Hall
  • Free entry, but booking in advance is essential. Reserve your tickets

Simon ArmitageTony RyanJoin us in the magnificent surroundings of Firth Hall to celebrate the unveiling of the world's first catalytic poem, written by our Professor of Poetry, Simon Armitage and manufactured using pioneering catalytic technology developed by our Pro-Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Science, Professor Tony Ryan.

The 20 metre high poem, which will be mounted on the wall of the University’s Alfred Denny Building, contains microscopic pollution-eating particles of titanium dioxide, which, after coming into contact with nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere, react with pollutants to purify the air. Simon will read the catalytic poem for the first time in public, along with a selection of his other work. Professor Ryan will explain the technology behind this ground-breaking interdisciplinary collaboration and the event will be followed by a drinks reception.

Sinéad Morrissey, Patience Agbabi and Nat Johnson

  • Friday 16 May
  • 7.00pm Firth Hall
  • Tickets: £6, or £3 for students and unwaged, available online or from the Students’ Union Box Office

Patience AgbabiPatience Agbabi has performed her poetry all over the world. In 2013, her poem, The Doll’s House, based on Harewood House, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. She has lectured in several UK universities and has been a Fellow In Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes University since 2008. Her fourth collection, Telling Tales (Canongate, 2014) is a Canterbury Tales for the 21st century, and has been described by former poet laureate Andrew Motion as "a compelling collection of story-portraits, at once contemporary and time-honoured".

Nat JohnsonCelebrated Sheffield singer-songwriter Nat Johnson has released four albums of beautifully crafted melodies to date. She appears with her band at Lyric this evening to perform a retrospective of some of her finest work, along with a selection of her most recent songs.

Sinead Morrissey

Sinéad Morrissey is the author of five collections: There Was Fire in Vancouver, Between Here and There, The State of the Prisons, Through the Square Window and Parallax. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Patrick Kavanagh Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship and First Prize in the UK National Poetry Competition. Through the Square Window was awarded the Irish Times Poetry Prize in 2010 and Parallax won the T. S. Eliot Prize in January this year. She is the inaugural Belfast Poet Laureate and works as a Reader in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, Queen’s University, Belfast.

Benjamin Zephaniah

  • Saturday 17 May
  • 8.00pm, Firth Hall
  • Tickets: £6, or £3 for students and unwaged, available online or from the Students’ Union Box Office

Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Zephaniah’s website describes him as a "poet, writer, musician and trouble-maker." He grew up in Handsworth, Birmingham, recalls giving his first public performance at the age of ten and has been a constant presence in the poetry world for several decades now, a voice of political and artistic consciousness never shy to engage with the issues of our time.

Influenced by the music and poetry of Jamaica, Zephaniah was a pioneer of the Dub Poetry movement in this country, becoming the voice and face of a new approach to writing and performance that challenged and contemporised traditional forms of poetic writing and delivery. But rather than rest on his reputation, his work-rate and commitment only seem to have increased over the years, as a writer, musician, broadcaster and activist.

A truly global figure, Zephaniah spends much of his time beyond these shores, taking his art and his message to many corners of the world, so we’re grateful to entice him to our corner of Sheffield for what might well be his only UK event this year. Come and hear him make trouble.

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