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All Seven Olympians talks are also available to groups on request. Contact Graham for more information.
Consummate showman and stand-up comic, the Ovid we still enjoy and admire nearly 2000 years on is a metrical gymnast who makes us gasp at the outrageous virtuosity of his mastery of form and content and how he speaks with great naturalness to our own times. “A wonderful lecture, both informative and entertaining”. I was fascinated to learn about the forgotten female poets who translated him”. (Sally Jenner after Ovid Night in Lewes)
Chaucer is a virtuoso verse-storyteller of the most disarming clarity. The Canterbury Tales may always be the main course, but Chaucer Night also features the four captivating early dream-poems and a Troilus and Criseyde dubbed ‘the first English novel’. “How much I enjoyed the Chaucer evening ! You effectively shone a light across a dark land and I now have the paths mapped out” (Hanne Busck-Nielsen at the Oxford Chaucer Night)
Byron was irresistible to so many of those who met and read him, his bull-in-a-china-shop private life high on edgy gloom and emotional caprice wrapped round a hungry philosophy of existence and art tuned to one of the greatest poetic ears English literature has ever heard. “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)
Pushkin, in the West thanks to Tchaikovsky, is revered for Eugene Onegin, a verse novel of romantic drama with an ingenious 14-line rhyming stanza he created for it. But there are also song-like poems, a chamber epic with a vast backdrop, ‘The Gypsies’, and his swan-song masterpiece rewriting of a legend, ‘The Bronze Horseman’. “Thank you for a sensational evening of Pushkin – a great performance” (Sue Hicks, at Pushkin Night in Farnham)
Baudelaire is an exhilarating poet of the sea-voyage, the love-song, the French capital. To read him is to be instantly young, a champion bourgeois-baiting Frenchman hungry to paint the hidden faces of the Paris he dubbed a ‘swarming city, city full of dreams’. “I was enthralled by Graham’s Baudelaire. He drew the listener in with such skill that I was totally at ease with Baudelaire’s highly unique style”. (Meg Depla-Lake, Baudelaire Night, Lewes)
Already at the age of 25, though lively, funny and good company, Dickinson would not ‘go from home unless emergency leads me by the hand’. The Dickinson trail leads to grief in love, the shadow of her public father, cosmic mysteries, the triumph of personal choice, and 1775 poems found stitched in bundles in a drawer. “A really excellent evening. People were rapt, attentive and enthusiastic”. (Liza Bingley Miller at Emily Dickinson Night in York)
Thanks to Il Postino, the picture many of us have of Neruda’s life is that he was on Capri in 1952 with his Mathilde, to whom his love poetry is as open-hearted as it is confessional to the reader, while his political nerve is internationally inspiring. “We left buzzing with delight and enormously stimulated to read more of Neruda’s work. Please do come back with the six other Olympians!” (Jane Hole, at Neruda Night in Taunton)
Top: Olimpos South Peaks – Badseed (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
Portraits of the Seven Olympians, left to right:
Statue of Ovid, Constanta, Romania, bdmundo.com, Geoffrey Chaucer, unidentified painter, UK Government collection, Lord Byron, coloured drawing, unknown, Alexander Pushkin, Tretyakov Gallery, Charles Baudelaire by Etienne Carjat, Emily Dickinson, daguerreotype, 1846/7, Pablo Neruda by Annemarie Heinrich