Last Word festival looks back at legendary 1960s poetry 'incarnation' at Albert Hall
This year marks the 50th anniversary of a legendary poetry event - the First International Poetry Incarnation on 11 June 1965 that saw over 7,000 people pack the Royal Albert Hall to witness Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Adrian Mitchell, Michael Horovitz, Gregory Corso and many others appear at what has been subsequently described as “the birth of performance poetry”. Writing about it afterwards, the poet and novelist Alexis Lykiard said: “No one knew what to expect: during the course of the evening flowers were distributed; weird papier-mache creatures strolled about the aisles … poets and hecklers interrupted each other; and a girl in a white dress danced under the pall of potsmoke with distant gestures of dream. And the last sight of Allen Ginsberg was one to cherish as, singing to his finger-cymbals, and shuffling like a wild-haired bear among the flowers hurled at him, he was surrounded by, and finally disappeared in, a mass of foliage-waving enthusiasts.”
Michael Horovitz – pictured with Ginsberg – was one of those who was there in 1965. Famous for his New Departures publications, Children of Albion anthology, and Poetry Olympics, Horovitz, who will be 80 next month, will perform at Poetry Reincarnation, an event to commemorate the anniversary, at the Last Word festival at the Roundhouse in Camden on Saturday 30 May.
A matinee showing and discussion of Peter Whitehead's film Wholly Communion, that documented the 1965 Albert Hall event, will precede an evening show hosted by Dan Cockrill, of Bang Said The Gun, with performances from Horovitz, Pete Brown, Salena Godden, Kei Miller, Francesca Beard, Patience Agbabi, Elvis McGonagall, Malika Booker, and Tom Paulin, plus more to be announced.
There are many other highlights at the Last Word Festival, a festival of spoken word, live performance, and storytelling from 16-31 May, including John Hegley, Luke Wright, Polarbear, Mark Grist, Tongue Fu, Rob Auton, Deanna Rodger, and Inua Ellams. More details
PHOTOGRAPH: © MICHAEL HOROVITZ / PETER WHITEHEAD
York literature festival, 19-29 March
Newcastle poetry festival, 19-21 March
Teignmouth poetry festival, 19-22 March
Cheltenham poetry festival, from 22 April
Wenlock poetry festival, Much Wenlock, Shropshire, 24-26 April
Cheltenham poetry festival, until 4 May
Poetry-next-the-sea, Wells next-the-sea, Norfolk, 8-10 May
The Last Word festival, Roundhouse, London, 19-31 May
Poetry & Words, Glastonbury festival 24-28 June
Ledbury poetry festival, 3-12 July