Dr Katy Shaw at Latitude Festival
31 Jul 2014
University of Brighton College of Arts and Humanities lecturer Dr Katy Shaw joined one of the UK’s biggest festivals by organising a tribute to miners’ strike poetry.
Latitude Festival 2014 drew tens of thousands of people to Southwold in Suffolk for three days in July. Big names in the music world including former Blur member Damon Albarn and Haim headlined the event, but the festival will had large stages dedicated to comedy, literature and poetry.
Lecturer Dr Katy Shaw curated a panel of poets including Michael Rosen, Luke Wright and Andy Beckett to examine the legacy of the 1984-5 UK miners’ strike for society today as part of events on the festival’s Poetry Stage. Dr Shaw was invited to host The Poetry Stage at the festival as a result of her role as director of Centre 21 which is dedicated to research on 21st century writings, and her book Mining the Meaning which examines strikers’ poems from 1984-5.
The event offered re-readings of the past to consider the social, cultural and political legacy of the strike. Three decades on from the biggest post-war dispute in British labour history, a range of poets, performers and artists united to how and why poetry written by miners can help us understand unspoken slices of our contentious history.
Dr Shaw reflected that the event was “a tribute to miners' strike poetry as this is the 30th anniversary of the strikes, and featured a host of musicians, poets and actors reading original poetry written by miners during the strike. I hosted the event, offering a narrative connecting the poems together.”
Seeing famous poets perform poetry written by strikers encouraged Latitude festival go-ers to “think about the legacy of the miners’ strike, especially in the light of current strike actions and austerity measures.”
Dr Shaw said she was “honoured to be asked to help communicate these largely ignored poetic works to a wider twenty-first century audience. Strikers’ poetic accounts of the biggest post-war labour conflict in British history offer an unspoken slice of history and have the potential to illuminate important connections between the shared struggles of the 1980s and the present day. As someone who has enjoyed Latitude Festival for several years now, I knew it would offer a brilliant stage and supportive audience for the consideration of these works.”
Image: Michael Rosen and the panel of poets at the Latitude Festival. Photo: Nick Brooks.