Poems from the Underground

Radical poets gather from around the world this weekend to celebrate Brighton’s underground nonconformist poetry scene, in a festival of avant-garde performance, art and debate.

The eighth annual Sussex Poetry Festival takes place on Friday 9 and Saturday 10 June at Brighton’s newest arts venue, The Rosehill. Organised by literary scholars and poets from the University of Sussex, the festival brings together leading voices from the forefront of experimental and radical contemporary poetry.

Keston Sutherland, a celebrated poet from the scene and professor at the University of Sussex said: “Sussex Poetry Festival sees the most boisterous, ungoverned energies of the radical underground scene gather for a weekend of poetry at its most unruly, its most uncompromising.

“If you’re an underground poet, Brighton is one of the most exciting places to be. The University of Sussex has a strong record of turning out brilliant experimental poets. It’s a tradition that goes back to Andrew Crozier, who was here for around 30 years. Today we see some of the world’s most brilliant poets coming through the University.

“The line-up of this year’s festival will include not just the international lights of the radical poetry world but also some of the University’s brightest poetry students.”

The Sussex Poetry Festival is held in early summer each year in Brighton. Brighton is seen as a hub for underground poetry, with multiple radical scenes established across the city. The Sussex Poetry Festival is described by some as the antithesis to traditional, larger poetry festivals such as StAnza.

This year the festival will include more visual art and performance alongside the poetry, with poet and film-maker Abigail Child showing some of her experimental films as well as giving a reading. Chinese poet and dissident, Liao Yiwu, will perform, alongside other poets from around the world, including Berlin, Portugal and the USA.

The Rosehill is a suitably nonconformist venue for the festival, an independent, not-for-profit venue run by musicians and artists, recently saved by the community from being developed into ‘luxury flats’.

The festival line-up so far comprises: 

Robbie Bailey-Caulfield
Eleanor Careless
Abigail Child
Ellen Dillon
William Fuller
Calum Gardner
Charlie Housham
Liao Yiwu with Michael Day
Daniel Lourenço
Ian Patterson
Joseph Persad
Vicky Sparrow
Eirik Steinhoff
Lotta Thießen
Karl M V Waugh
Zia X

The festival is organised by Natalia Cecire, Joe Luna, Samuel Solomon and Keston Sutherland from the University of Sussex, and funded by the School of English.

Follow on Twitter @SussexPoFest and online: https://sussexpofest.wordpress.com.

By: Rose Tremlett
Last updated: Wednesday, 7 June 2017