Stellar line-up set to celebrate poetry and music at Lyric festival

John Burnside, Jo Shapcott and legendary dub-poet Linton Kwesi Johnson are just some of the headline acts at this year's Lyric festival, curated by the University of Sheffield's Professor of Poetry Simon Armitage and organised by Dr Joanna Gavins from the School of English.

Now in its second year, Lyric is Sheffield's only festival of poetry, music and the spoken word and will take place from Wednesday 9 May to Friday 11 May 2012 at the University of Sheffield.

Lyric begins on 9 May with an exploration of the life and work of the late poet Peter Redgrove. His wife, the award-winning poet Penelope Shuttle, will be in conversation with Peter's biographer Neil Roberts, Emeritus Professor of the University's School of English.

Wednesday 9 May will also feature the music and poetry of World War I poet Ivor Gurney. Simon Armitage will read from Gurney's poetry, while Dr Kate Kennedy from the University of Cambridge will talk about Gurney's life and read from his letters, and students from the University of Sheffield's Department of Music will perform some of Gurney's songs.

The second day of the festival will see a celebration of 25 years of Poetry Business, a Yorkshire-based arts group and small press that fosters new talent, spreads interest in contemporary poetry and publishes the work of new and established writers. Described by Andrew Motion as "One of the most vital and vitalising literary organisations in the country", the University's School of English is proud to work with Poetry Business on several community projects. The celebration will include readings from James Caruth and Geoff Hattersley, both of whom will launch new poetry collections at the event, as well as River Wolton and Peter Sansom.

Jackie Kay is a multi-prize winning poet and novelist and in 2006 received an MBE for services to poetry. John Agard grew up in Georgetown, British Guyana, and has published over thirty collections of poetry. His awards include the Paul Hamlyn Award for Poetry in 1997 and the Cholmondeley Award in 2004. John and Jackie perform at Lyric on 10 May.

John Burnside, recent winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry and the Forward Prize, will perform alongside Jo Shapcott on 11 May. Jo has won a number of literary prizes including the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Collection, the Forward Prize for Best Collection and the National Poetry Competition (twice). In 2011 Jo was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.

Lyric will culminate in an evening with Linton Kwesi Johnson on Friday 11 May. Linton Kwesi Johnson is recognised by many as the world's first reggae-poet. He has received an uncountable number of prizes and honours for his work and his political activism. His 1985 album
 LKJ Live in Concert with the Dub Band was nominated
 for a Grammy Award, and in 2002 he became the second living poet, and the only black poet, to be published in the Penguin Classics series. Linton will be performing and talking to broadcaster, BBC 6 Music presenter, author and friend of Lyric, Stuart Maconie.

British poet, novelist and screenwriter Simon Armitage was appointed as Professor of Poetry at the University of Sheffield in January 2011. He has published 13 volumes of highly critically acclaimed poetry. Simon also writes for radio, television and film and regularly features on programmes such as Front Row (BBC Radio 4) and The Review Show (BBC2). He has received numerous awards for his poetry including the Sunday Times Author of the Year, one of the first Forward Prizes, and a BAFTA. He was awarded a CBE for services to poetry in 2011.

Simon Armitage said: "The ongoing success of Lyric confirms this city as one of the most exciting places in Britain to study, write, and live the life poetic. This year's festival offers a unique opportunity to see and hear some of the most creative and admired word-artists currently at work within the language."

Organiser of Lyric, Dr Joanna Gavins, from the University's School of English, added: "We're delighted to have such a stellar line-up at this year's Lyric. The festival promises to be another exciting and inspiring celebration of the written and spoken word."

Notes for Editors:
Lyric festival is open to the public. 6pm and 7pm events are free of charge but booking is required, 8pm and 9pm events are ticketed at £5. To book please visit: Lyric 2012

Wednesday 9 May
6pm, St George's Church – The Life and Work of Peter Redgrove, with Neil Roberts and Penelope Shuttle
8pm, Firth Hall - The Music and Poetry of Ivor Gurney (with Simon Armitage, Dr Kate Kennedy, and students from the Department of Music)

Thursday 10 May
6pm, St George's Church - Poetry Business 25th Year Celebration, with James Caruth, Geoff Hattersley, River Wolton and Peter Sansom
8pm, St George's Church – John Agard and Jackie Kay

Friday 11 May
7pm, St George's Church - John Burnside and Jo Shapcott
9pm, St George's Church - Linton Kwesi Johnson (in performance and in conversation with Stuart Maconie)

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