‘Great literature, ’ Ezra Pound said, ‘is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree.’ As we draw close to a particular special date, I have been looking back at what makes ‘great literature.’ Perhaps, as Pound puts it so succinctly, it is forming something that gives the reader the joy of peeling […]
As we draw close to a particular special date, I have been looking back at what makes ‘great literature.’ Perhaps, as Pound puts it so succinctly, it is forming something that gives the reader the joy of peeling apart words to find the matter hidden in between. But that so-called ‘greatness’ can also exist outside books. At Penned in the Margins, we believe in literature that can go beyond the page, from items mudlarked from the Thames to fullscale theatrical performances.
This season marks our tenth anniversary. In 2004, in a converted railway arch in south London, Penned held its first event, and a decade on we are celebrating with a birthday party at Rich Mix. Joining us are writers and performers that we have been pleased to call collaborators and honoured to call friends.
This season is also a travelling one; we take four shows across the country. Claire Trévien’s one-woman production of The Shipwrecked House continues its tour, billowing sails and all. One of our most ambitious pieces to date, it incorporates nautical knots, authentic sails and specially-crafted scents with Claire’s elegant and emotive language. After her successful debut collection, Hannah Silva returns to Penned with Schlock!, a powerful new cut-and-paste performance piece. Caroline Bergvall’s Drift, a contemporary exploration of migration and sea travel, heads off on tour after taking the Southbank Centre by storm in July. And as the season draws to a close we will unveil Simon Barraclough’s Sunspots, a performance combining multimedia with spoken word and inspired by his meditations on the sun.
Alongside the performative, we are releasing a stellar series of publications. Chris McCabe unearths the secrets of West Norwood Cemetery in his innovative non-fiction work In the Catacombs. Part comprehensive investigation into the lost poets of the late 19th century, part unsettling diary following an unnamed poet and a disembodied voice, McCabe challenges the notions of fame and success within contemporary poetry. Honor Gavin’s debut novel Midland charts the growth and decay of post-war Birmingham, following a family line through three generations struggling in the ebb and flow of industry. Our biggest publication this year, and already causing quite a buzz, is our commemorative anthology Marginalia. Inviting back a multitude of poets and writers from the last ten years, Marginalia illustrates the breadth and brilliance of the artists we have had the privilege of working with.