calendar] [events on request for venues in England in 2018]
[2018 England and Wales poetry lecture-performance
[poetry school] [broadcasting, language work & publications] [translation coaching]
"In his lecture-performance series, Graham wants to give audiences who love poetry a fresh experience of each poet which he hopes will feel more like listening to a live radio programme with readings rather than to a lecture, blowing away some of the more daunting associations we have with that word . . ."
“If you have never experienced
Graham Fawcett, you have missed something. His childlike enthusiasm for the
greats of the canon is the motor that drives through his two-part, two-hour
monologues to a journey’s end of revelation. These are not literary events for
those with contemporary attention spans. Fawcett does not give it to us in
bite-size chunks. These are big talks, packed full of imagination and
research . . .Do go; these are very special occasions.”
(John Pownall, The Bridport Review, at Coleridge Night, West Bay,
Dorset, 21 January 2016)
NEW SERIES CONTINUES IN 2018
These lecture-performances last for 90-95 minutes in two halves, and there is usually a 20 minute interval.
The lectures in blue have already been launched and so are immediately available.
W H Auden
W B Yeats
Lorca and the Poetry of Spain
Thomas Hardy, poet
Gerard Manley Hopkins 100
Dante's The Divine Comedy
D H Lawrence, poet
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Shakespeare the Poet
The lectures in black are in preparation and can be available given notice.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Dante Alighieri throughout 2018
attrib. Giotto, Dante, Bargello, Florence
(the oldest known portrait of Dante Alighieri)
January 2018 sees the re-start of Graham's tour of lecture-performances-with-readings on The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, probably the greatest poet who has ever lived.
If you would like your city, town or village to be included on the tour and/or would like to know more about it, write to Graham at email@example.com
POETRY READINGS WITH COMMENTARY (new series)
- Poets of New York
- William Shakespeare Night (different from 'Shakespeare the Poet' above)
These poetry readings with commentary also last for 90-95 minutes in two halves, and there is usually a 20 minute interval.
Graham Fawcett's acclaimed lecture-performance-with-readings series
Seven Olympians 1
click here for extract
"A real tour de force. West Bay metamorphosed into a Roman drinking den. Hexameters at dawn.
Excellent. I learnt a lot".
(James Crowden, after West Bay Ovid night)
(Phil Manning at the London Ovid Night)
"A wonderful lecture last night, both informative
and entertaining. I was fascinated to learn about the
forgotten female poets who translated him”.
(Sally Jenner after Ovid Night in Lewes on 17th January)
I really enjoyed Ovid. These lectures are so worth pushing’.
(Stephen Yeo, after Ovid Night in Oxford)
Seven Olympians 2
"You made my mind dance".
(Carla Sheills Steenkamp)
"You gave Chaucer to us not only with a huge breadth of knowledge but managed to present the entire subject
as a great romp through the Middle Ages"
"How much I enjoyed the Chaucer evening ! My knowledge of Chaucer was minimal; however, your talk, aided by Sue's excellent reading in Middle English of the texts, has made me really interested, and I feel equipped now to begin reading Chaucer myself. You effectively shone a light across a dark land and I now have the paths mapped out, so I can, and want to, explore what was a hidden continent before. I really want more people to hear you and learn more of the wonderful rich literary heritage we all share!"
(Hanne Busck-Nielsen at Oxford Chaucer Night, 7th February 2013)
| Seven Olympians 3
"So rich in content"
(Member of the audience)
"Byron lived fast and died young. Graham brought the poet to life again for one extraordinary evening of poetry, politics and adventure. It was wonderful."
(Lucy Moy-Thomas at London Byron Night)
"I was royally entertained".
(Annie Freud, after Byron Night in Lewes)
Thank you for your wonderful talk on Byron at the Hopblossom in Farnham. I found myself gripped and enthralled and am so pleased to have finally understood why my late mother was so besotted with Byron. Thank you for revealing why and how his work should be approached. Can't wait, now, for some time to sit down and enjoy what I've missed all these years!
(Jane Lees, at Farnham Byron Night)
| Seven Olympians 4
"I was so uplifted by your lecture on Pushkin that I am now hugely looking forward to the presentation on Baudelaire".
(Sieglinde Ward, after Farnham Pushkin Night)
"How much I enjoyed the evening ! Your lecture was brilliant”.
(Valentina Merritt, after Farnham Pushkin Night)
"Thank you for a sensational evening of Pushkin- a great ”performance” and an added bonus having your two charming colleagues. I was personally thrilled to hear these lyrical voices complementing yours because I had read that it can sometimes be difficult to fully appreciate Pushkin in translation. Both your rendering, and the translations that you chose, dovetailing so beautifully with Valentina and her colleague’s reading, proved that Pushkin is most accessible and hugely enjoyable."
(Sue Hicks, after Farnham Pushkin Night)
"A most stimulating evening. I am so glad I came".
(Jennifer Anderson, after the London Pushkin Night)
"Thank you again for an incredibly interesting and informative lecture"
(Svetlana Calladine, after the Lewes Pushkin Night)
"Particularly involving and pleasurable".
Member of the audience after the Lewes (Pushkin Night)
Seven Olympians 5
"I was enthralled by Graham Fawcett's talk on Baudelaire. He painted such vivid pictures with words, that you felt you understood the troubled poet and essayist, and the 'modern' influences of Paris in the 1800s that had shaped his life, loves and work. Graham drew the listener into the world of the poet with such skill that, despite no previous knowledge of the subject and the sometimes complex nature of his work, I was totally at ease with Baudelaire's highly unique style. Several pieces were delivered in full in the original French, allowing the music and rhythm of the lines to be appreciated, before an equally entertaining translation was given. A thoroughly enjoyable evening".
(Meg Depla-Lake, at Baudelaire Night in Lewes)
"I want to say how much I enjoyed your lecture last night; it set me thinking.... and this is always a welcome thing".
| Seven Olympians 6
"A wonderful evening of Emily Dickinson, questions and a meal together. The evening was a huge success".
(Katrina Dennison after Emily Dickinson Night in Farnham)
"Thank you for another compelling lecture. There is a certain new slant of light in which I now look at Emily Dickinson's poetry, thanks to your inspired evocation of her as a woman of great strength, even volcanic power."
(Romee Tilanus, after the London Emily Dickinson Night)
“A really excellent evening, much enjoyed and appreciated by all those who have been in touch since. People were rapt, attentive and enthusiastic". (Liza Bingley Miller after Emily Dickinson Night in York)
I enjoyed this lecture so much that I have booked a trip to Amherst this summer to go to Emily Dickinson's family home, such was the impact her poetry had on my life!
(Emma Jane Turner, after the first Emily Dickinson Night, in Central London)
Everyone I spoke to said it had been a brilliant evening, and your talk superb -- this applied to all our members who I heard from on Sunday morning too.
So my very warm appreciation for your efforts and a tremendous talk, beautifully researched. It made the whole evening a delight, including the supper afterwards.
We would love you to come again.
(Jim Corrigall, after Emily Dickinson Night in Ipswich)
A truly memorable evening yesterday. One comes away not merely with a deeper understanding - and indeed fired with enthusiasm for your subject - but also what a different experience altogether it is to hear you read a prepared lecture. I so enjoyed hearing you read Emily's work but particularly relished the opportunity to enjoy your own way with words; not to overstate it, it put me in mind of good music well composed. Thank you for it all. How can it be that there is no CD of any of your work? The Olympians would make a splendid album!
I'm very much looking forward to your return visit to our backwoods . . .
(Sue Key-Burr, after Emily Dickinson Night in Ipswich)
Seven Olympians 7
| "Inspiring and brilliant. An enthralling evening"
(Anna Powell, after the West Bay Neruda Night on 31st January)
(John Taylor, after the West Bay Neruda Night on 31st January)
"Graham Fawcett is very good indeed. He has a marvellous knack of opening up a poet's life and instantly taking you on a colourful voyage through their life and work. Very illuminating”. (James Crowden, after West Bay’s Neruda Night on 31st January)
"You took a unique approach, sent me in directions I hadn't expected and left me wanting to discover more for myself".
(Christine Murphy, after the Lewes Neruda Night on 24th January)
"THANK YOU so much for such a mesmerising evening last night in Taunton.
My friend and I left buzzing with delight and enormously stimulated to read more of Pablo Neruda's work. Please do come back with the six other Olympians!"
(Jane Hole, at Neruda Night in Taunton)
“Lots of people who experienced it all have said that it was fabulous. Andrew McMillan in particular was fervent in his praise for your delivery and the content of the talk – he was very impressed indeed”.
(Antony Dunn, Bridlington Poetry Festival 2013).
(George Beckmann, after London's Neruda Night)
These lectures first given at St Olave, Hart Street, between January and July 2012 and then at The Poetry School and The Rugby Tavern in London, before going on tour for the first time)
If your city or town has not yet been covered by the Seven Olympians tour and you would like to stage one or more of the lectures at a venue near you during 2016, telephone Graham on 020 7405 3997 or write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My usual fee is £400 for a morning, afternoon, or evening session, £650 for two consecutive sessions, and £750 for a whole day from morning to evening inclusive or a 24-hour period away from home, plus travel expenses, subsistence, and overnight accommodation where necessary.
If requested, and in certain cases, fees may also be negotiable in line with what your audience is used to, what the box office is likely to be, and/or other special circumstances of particular need. To this end, Graham is happy to discuss and help with publicity.
The Book You Always Meant To Read
a cycle of fifteen lectures covering the whole of Dante's Divine Comedy
Gustav Dore, Dante in The Dark Wood
1. Before reading Dante
We embark on a poet’s journey of a lifetime in what must rank as the most intense, and the most unbelievably credible, diary ever written; 14,223 lines of it, ostensibly describing the events of seven days, but which probably took the poet at least ten years to write.
What “happens” to him through these days has such a breathtaking velocity and moment and mass and range and compass and seamless continuity, that it has been like a ground bass, a continuo of meaning, for me ever since I first read it. I thought of it yet again only the Saturday before last as I saw a time-clock on the television screen measuring, there and then at the time, the hours, minutes, seconds and tenths of a second that followed the sight of the first plane flying into the first tower of the World Trade Center, and counted the breaths in that gathering picture of apocalypse; and then, changing channels, was no less poignantly shocked into another connection when faced with the stark contrast struck by live pictures from Mantua of Verdi’s jesting Rigoletto going to hell in a handcart, in real time.
Every road, including our own, sooner or later leads to this great work, crosses the path of its journey. . .
2. The Journey Begins (Inferno, Cantos 1-8)
3. The Deepening Route (Inferno, Cantos 9-15)
4. Navigating The Precipice (Inferno, Cantos 16-22)
5. Imaginable Peril (Inferno, Cantos 23-26)
6. How To Get Out of Hell (Inferno, Cantos 27-34)
7. Above the Southern Ocean (Purgatorio, Cantos 1-9)
8. Altitudes of Pride and Envy (Purgatorio, Cantos 10-16)
9. What Love Is and What It Isn’t (Purgatorio, Cantos 17-21)
10. Through the Wall of Fire (Purgatorio, Cantos 22-28)
11. Being With Beatrice (Purgatorio, Cantos 29-33 and Paradiso, canto 1)
12. The Story So Far, and The Point of Paradise (Paradiso, Cantos 1-4)
13. Heavens of Mercury, Venus, the Sun and Mars (Paradiso, Cantos 5-14)
14. The Eagle and the Ladder (Paradiso, Cantos 15-25)
15. Vision’s Pinnacle (Paradiso, Cantos 26-33)
Dante Alighieri portrayed by Domenico Michelino holding The Divine Comedy against a backdrop of Hell, Purgatory and Paradise (1465)
Santa Maria Del Fiore, (Duomo), Florence, Italy
Reading, Writing, Groups and Selfhood
From his experience of
working with small groups on the writing of poetry and the reading of poets past
and present from across the world, Graham Fawcett takes a fresh look at how
processes of discovery and self-realization appear to vary between one-to-one
and group encounters with the written and printed page.
With examples and
illustrations from a wide range of poets, including:
Wallace Stevens, Emily Dickinson, W B Yeats, Robert Frost, Ivan Lalic, Homer, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Edward Thomas, Jorie Graham, Dylan Thomas, Mahmoud Darwish, and Dante
Translating Poetry is harder than it looks and easier than it doesn’t look. What on earth do I mean by that ? Well, it’s harder than it looks because we read it in the original or source language, and begin to think it in the target language, before the real work of composition begins. It’s easier than it doesn’t look, in the sense that once you’ve learned to give yourself a range of translation options for a word or phrase, over and above choosing the English word which most looks like the French or Italian or Spanish, you stop flogging the often dead horse of literal or mere mirror translation and start ranging more freely and calmly through a series of lateral thoughts, not forcing the French onto a sequence of words resembling it in English but letting English suggest how we might naturally say this ourselves.
Translation is a discipline just as writing is. It should, I believe, be lived like a mentorship, responding – as to a vocation – to any text which calls us. A text may call us in its original language, or cry out perhaps in the throes of being strangled by another translator’s heavy-handedness . . .
Broadening Vision: Poetry and Spirituality
Several years ago now, a last-thing-at-night forecast issued a severe weather warning of very heavy rain for London at about three o'clock in the morning. The impact of precise, impressive prophecy in it woke me at five minutes to three. Opening the French windows made a small proscenium. It began towards half-past with a mere increase in moisture on the incoming air, then came the odd audible drop more quickly repeated, a stir of more continuous sound like a sense of growth, and, as the gamble on rain came good, an answer to the front-stall seat in the language of this latest scene in the play of the world we spend so much time not watching. It reminded me of this poem:
My good and wonderful Lina
threw open the window for me to see
the immensity of the sky.
Resting quietly here and thinkinig
how I have given in vain and the end is approaching,
it pleases me the more, that sky, and those swallows,
those clouds. I ask nothing else, simply smoking
my pipe in silence like an old sea-dog.
Of all the telling, not to say broadening, moments in that poem, 'Sky', by the 20th century Italian poet Umberto Saba, perhaps the best is that phrase 'it pleases me the more'. The 'more' has become part of the speaker's sense of being alive from the throwing open of the window, then from the discovery of just how big the sky was and could be; and so from the resting quietly and the thinking about his life and his approaching end, and consequently to the asking nothing else, an arrival at completeness; all of which leads to his writing of the poem, our reading it, and the shared captuire of a something more that pleases us. But we have to go to the poem in the first place, just as we have to be present at occasions like this one, in order to have the opporunity of contemplating for ourselves what the poet has felt and can convey to all of us who were not there. In other words, we need to submit to the thing. . . .
Illustrated by poems from Ezra Pound, Edward Thomas, W B Yeats, Anna Akhmatova, Wordsworth, Homer, Antonio Machado, Shakespeare, Seamus Heaney, Cavafy, Derek Walcott, Ivan Lalic, W H Auden, and the lecturer
Poetry Is Communication
"We may not fully grasp how a poem communicates, although usually there is no need for us to. What happens is something ineffable, like love. That it works is not in question, either: we sense, body and soul, the effects that poetry can have on us, yet we cannot say how, only that the message has reached us and we have ‘received’ it. Indeed, so difficult is it to express, for example, how love affects us that only in a poem can the knot of its mystery be traced through, loosened, even untied . . ."
Illustrated by poems from Anna Akhmatova, W H Auden, Cavafy, Dante, Leopardi, Seamus Heaney, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Apollinaire, Ungaretti, Homer, and Robert Frost
Imagination and the Classical Inheritance in Literature
"We go back to the Classical World as to the Bible. The Classical World is a kind of Bible to us, a sacred book of a world. We go there, as we go to the Registry of Births, Marriages and Detahs at St Catherine's House in London, to retrieve links we have lost or never known. The bridges we cross back into antiquity were built in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. . . Without the classical inheritance, we are in a kind of stasis, not mindful of key origins. We cannot pretend that our origins do not exist, unless the flower can be accepted without reference to the root. . . "
(with special reference to Greek and Roman theatre, Virgil, Dante, Thomas Hobbes, Milton, Ted Hughes, James Joyce, C G Jung, and Hermann Broch)
lectures on ANY of the following: Mallarmé, John Donne, Samuel Johnson, W B Yeats and the Rhymers' Club, Keats, the Brownings, Coleridge, T S Eliot, Ted Hughes & Sylvia Plath, Ezra Pound.
England and the Poet
lectures on ANY of the following: Blake in Sussex; Hardy in Dorset; Clare in Helpston; Crabbe, Fitzgerald and Tennyson in Woodbridge; and Coleridge and Wordsworth in and around Nether Stowey, Somerset.
The Poet's Journey through Time - the last thousand years
(discusses Ted Hughes, Derek Walcott, The Song of Roland, The Song of the Nibelungs, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Chaucer, Dante and Coleridge)
extract coming next
Philosophies of Love - Mahabharata, the Troubadours, Dante's Purgatorio
The Delight Of This Spain Now Astir - Spanish poetry from the Arab Andalusians to the present day
Clarity and Labyrinth - the challenges of good writing
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
From The Song To The Symphony
an audio-illustrated exploration of the great variety of ways in which poetry or poetic texts have been used by composers from Berlioz to Benjamin. Our discoveries within the original poem, the music, or both may also create a starting-point for your own writing.
Lectures on other individual poets (any of those featured in course details)
Graham Fawcett has lectured or led
- the Aldeburgh Festival (Britten the Illuminator -
Benjamin Britten's settings of poetry);
- the Edward the Confessor
Millennial Festival, Islip 2005 (From Beowulf to Bayeux);
British Centre for Literary Translation;
- the Centre for Translation and
Comparative Cultural Studies at the University of Warwick;
Postgraduate Interpreting and Translation Department of European Studies
& Modern Languages at the University of Bath;
- the School of English in the Department of Communication and Philosophy at the University of Cardiff;
- the Dulwich Festival;
- the Peterborough Festival;
- the Benissa campus of the University of Alicante; and
- the Feltre campus of the University of Milan;
- the Guild of Psychotherapists in London;
- Middlesex University;
- Westmont College, Santa Barbara (in London and Venice);
- the Contemporary Poets Tour;
Institute of Linguists in Cambridge;
- Metroland (Amersham);
Russell-Cotes Museum and Art Gallery (Bournemouth);
- the Kent & Sussex
Poetry Society (Tunbridge Wells);
- the Children's Bookshow;
- the Guild of
Pastoral Psychology (London);
- the Blackheath
- Indian King Arts Centre (Camelford);
- Pitshanger Poets
- Ripley Arts Centre (Bromley);
- the National Art Fund; and
- Art House Holidays, Malaga
You may now like to look at, or return to, the [events on request for venues in England in 2011] page.
The Bach family minus JS
Cherubini and Spontini
Carl Maria von Weber
Gioacchino Forzano the librettist
The Tosca File
Life Before Carmen – how the opera came to be
The Rush for Pelléas – how Sibelius, Fauré and Schoenberg converged on the story of Pelléas et Mélisande
The Unholy Office - Music and the Inquisition
Softest Music To Attending Ears - Romeo and Juliet in the concert-hall and the opera-house
Picture Postcards, Hanging Gardens and God - Schoenberg, Webern and Berg and their settings of poetry.
You may now like to look at, or return to, the [events on request for venues in England in 2011] page.
|Lectures, seminars and workshops offered to universities
REMIXING THE VOICE
Graham Fawcett finds different strands of his working life – writing radio programmes, teaching both translation and poetry and translating Dante – coming together in this lecture/seminar. In Remixing The Voice, he will argue that there is something excitingly comparable between the growth of a poet’s voice and the translator’s making of a target language voice in which to sing the sound and sense of a source language poem. He will concentrate in particular on the formation and legacy of the voice of Early Japanese Women Poets, the medieval Italian poet Petrarch, and the 20th century Czech poet Miroslav Holub. Handouts will be provided containing the poems to be explored in detail.
SOMETHING LIKE THE ORIGINAL– Is Translation Ever More Than Second Best ?
A lecture/workshop illustrated by close reading of texts either out of or into English, which will also identify social, cultural, historical and other contextual clues to meaning and therefore transfer
(a) out of English into other languages, to include a translation-back exercise (a translation text from French into English back into French); and
(b) into English, with 100% vocabulary support on word-sheets so as to include those without French or Italian.
TRANSLATING THE POEM AS AN AID TO CREATIVE WRITING
A lecture and workshop examining the translating of poetry into English and the principles involved. Poems from French, Italian, German, Swedish and/or Chinese will be read closely (word-sheets provided giving 100% vocabulary support in cases where it’s thought desirable to include those with no previous knowledge of the language(s) concerned) and decisions will be taken as to the preserving of idiom, metaphor, pun, syllable-count, rhyme and rhythm. Background will be given to provide context for poems by poets to be selected from Rimbaud, Apollinaire, Mallarmé; Saba, Leopardi, Dante; Hölderlin; Edith Södergran; and Tao Qian.
My thesis is that teaching the translation of poetry is also a way of helping students, most of whom have little or no knowledge of foreign languages, to develop their poetry writing skills.
Giving students the translation experience has the immediate effect of letting them relax about the aspect of poetry writing which usually exercises them most * what to write about - and concentrate solely on creatively imitating such features as form and figures of meaning and sound with which they have been provided already by the original poem. Like pastiche or parody, or writing variations on a theme, or even weightlessness in swimming for muscle improvement, students have found the leg-up of the original enormously liberating not only for prosody but also for vocabulary, and thence for invention
A lecture and workshops examining the translating of fiction and non-fiction into English and the principles involved. Extracts from French, Italian and Spanish will be read closely (word-sheets provided giving 100% vocabulary support in cases where it’s thought desirable to include those with no previous knowledge of the language(s) concerned) and decisions will be taken as to the preserving of idiom, metaphor, pun and other features of the original. Background will be given to provide context for prose extracts to be selected from the Spanish of Nuria Amat, the Italian of Carlo Fruttero and Franco Lucentini and a newspaper article on new flood-defence technology in Venice, and the French of Marcel Proust (including a chance to compare three different published translations into English).
My thesis is that teaching the translation of prose can also be a way of helping students who have little or no knowledge of foreign languages to develop their fiction and non-fiction prose writing skills.
POETRY IS WHAT GETS FOUND IN TRANSLATION
Arguing against the American poet Robert Frost’s assertion that poetry is what gets lost in translation, Graham Fawcett explores the particular difficulties of translating poetry, demonstrates how the translator can face up to the challenges of form, figures of meaning and sound, idiom and cultural difference, and argues that poetry’s very survival in the new world order will depend on translation (lecture/seminar).
Seamus Heaney has said that ‘craft is what you learn from other poets’, while Elizabeth Bishop was drawn to ‘the purity of language’ in the poetry of George Herbert. In the 1930s everybody wanted to sound like W H Auden but how did Auden come by that sound ? And since Gerard Manley Hopkins seems to sound like nobody else, does that mean he developed his voice from scratch ? This lecture, seminar or workshop looks at how poets inherit strands, figures and features of previous voices, ages and places, explores the work of a range of poets and traces their voices from before, during, and after their writing lives. Subjects could include Wordsworth, Herbert, Hopkins, Auden and Walcott or poets in translation
HOW DO WE KNOW TRANSLATORS OF POEMS ARE ANY GOOD ?
Assessments of the translating careers of poets who have also published as translators from one or more languages and comparisons of their translation work with their own poetry. The list could include Ezra Pound, Edwin Morgan, Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Tony Harrison, Marianne Moore and/or others
An example would be an assessment of Edwin Morgan’s performances as a translator from the Italian (Montale), the Hungarian (Weöres, Juhasz and Attila Joszef), the Old English (Beowulf) and the French (Racine’s Phèdre and Cyrano de Bergerac).
Close reading of the original with 100% vocabulary support and comparative evaluation of other published versions would not only enable students to experience the process that Morgan had to go through line-by-line but also offer opportunities for comparison with the work of his near- and not-so-near- contemporaries Ted Hughes (Racine and from the Hungarian), Anthony Burgess (Cyrano) and Seamus Heaney (Beowulf).
You may also like to look at - or return to - the [events on request for venues in England in 2015] page