Last Word festival looks back at legendary 1960s poetry 'incarnation' at Albert Hall

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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





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





◄ Andrew Motion on shortlist for Ted Hughes award

Gordon Zola to compere Write Out Loud Wigan tonight ►


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Julian (Admin)

Wed 11th Mar 2015 15:16

Trouble is, if they can remember, they probably weren't there. David?

<Deleted User> (5592)

Fri 6th Mar 2015 16:20

PS: have just posted on my FB homepage seeking other attendees.

<Deleted User> (5592)

Fri 6th Mar 2015 15:43

Well, Greg has taken me down memory lane: let's wait and see what he found there.

And, yes, if we can find any other attendees that would be good.

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Graham Sherwood

Thu 5th Mar 2015 09:50

This makes you think back. I was only fourteen but 1965 was the year my passion for the music of Bob Dylan began. If only we had known?

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Greg Freeman

Thu 5th Mar 2015 08:14

We'll have a go, Julian. Watch this space ...

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Julian (Admin)

Wed 4th Mar 2015 23:59

You are a dark horse, David. You were there at the birth of performance poetry? Really! Tell us more. Show us the photos. I hope you wore beads, a Khaftan, or at least an Afghan. Wow! I was just quoting this article in my email to the Nuyorican Poetry Café in the East Village, which Ginsberg described as the most integrated place on the planet, when I spotted your comment. I wonder if we can rustle other attendees up.

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Greg Freeman

Mon 2nd Mar 2015 11:04

Blimey, David, were you? I will be quizzing you about it ...

<Deleted User> (5592)

Mon 2nd Mar 2015 10:58

I was there. Anyone else?

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