Video design by Amelia Kosminsky
Location: Durham Castle, Viewed from Framwellgate Bridge
A contemplation of light and darkness to feed the mind
In this major new initiative, Artichoke in collaboration with New Writing North and Durham University, is stepping into the world of contemporary poetry. With new commissions from ten of the UK’s most exciting poets, including Selina Nwulu, Roger Robinson, Kae Tempest and Michael Rosen, these sparkling original works will be projected onto the ancient walls of Durham Castle.
Reflecting on ideas of light and darkness, each writer was invited to contribute a new poem, and was then recorded reading it. The result is a wonderfully luminous and textured artwork that feeds the senses and speaks to Durham’s long history as a place of learning and enlightenment. As the poems play along the Castle wall in sequence, visible from below and across the river, the illuminated words will be spoken by the voices of the poets themselves.
About the poets
Fiona Benson (b. 1978, Wroughton) won the Forward Prize for Best Collection in 2019 with Vertigo & Ghost, a collection whose central sequence was an astonishingly vivid reworking of Greek myth. Her forthcoming collection from Cape, Ephemeron, also features a long mythic sequence, written during the first lockdown in 2020.
Malika Booker is an international writer whose work is steeped in anthropological research methodology and rooted in storytelling. Her writing spans poetry, theatre, monologue, installation, and education. Clients and organisations she has worked with include Arts Council England, BBC, British Council, Wellcome Trust, National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Arvon, and Hampton Court Palace
Kayo Chingonyi was born in Zambia in 1987, and moved to the UK at the age of six. He is the author of two pamphlets, and a fellow of the Complete Works programme for diversity and quality in British Poetry. In 2012, he was awarded a Geoffrey Dearmer Prize, and was Associate Poet at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in 2015. His first full-length collection, Kumukanda, won the Dylan Thomas Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award and was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Prize. It was also shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre First Poetry Collection Prize, the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry, the Roehampton Poetry Prize and the Jhalak Prize. Kayo was a Burgess Fellow at the Centre for New Writing, University of Manchester before joining Durham University as Assistant Professor of Creative Writing. He is a writer and presenter for the music and culture podcast Decode on Spotify and his most recent collection A Blood Condition is just out with Chatto & Windus.
Dharker is a poet, artist and video film-maker. She was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2014.She received the Cholmondeley Award and an Honorary Doctorate from SOAS, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In 2020 she became the Chancellor of Newcastle University. Her collections include Purdah (Oxford University Press), Postcards from god, I speak for the devil and The terrorist at my table (all published by Penguin India and Bloodaxe Books UK), Leaving Fingerprints, Over the Moon and the latest, Luck is the Hook (Bloodaxe Books UK). Her poems are on the British GCSE and A Level English syllabus, and she reads with other poets at Poetry Live! events all over the country to more than 25,000 students a year. She has been Poet in Residence at Cambridge University Library, worked on a series of poems based on the Archives of St Paul’s Cathedral as well as projects across art forms in Leeds, Newcastle and Hull. The inaugural Poet of the Fair at London Book Fair, her poems have been broadcast widely on BBC Radio 3 and 4 as well as the BBC World Service. She has had eleven solo exhibitions of drawings in India, London, New York and Hong Kong. She scripts and directs films, many of them for non-government organisations in India, working in the area of shelter, education and health for women and children.
Paul Farley began winning awards with Poetry Review’s Geoffrey Dearmer Prize, took the Forward Prize for Best First Collection with The Boy from the Chemist is Here to See You, and won the Whitbread Poetry Prize for his second, The Ice Age, which was also a Poetry Book Society Choice. He has been a teacher of creative writing, Poet in Residence at Dove Cottage, Wordsworth’s home, and was chosen as a Next Generation Poet in 2004.
Raised on the North Peckham estate in South London, Caleb Femi is a poet and director. He has written and directed short films for the BBC and Channel 4, and poems for Tate Modern, the Royal Society for Literature, St Paul’s Cathedral, the BBC, the Guardian and more. He has been featured in the Dazed 100 list of the next generation shaping youth culture. From 2016 to 2018, he served as the Young People’s Laureate for London. He recently wrote the liner material for Kano’s 2019 album Hoodies All Summer.
Selina Nwulu is a writer and former Young Poet laureate for London with extensive experience of performing internationally and writing for commission. Nwulu is also a leader within the civic sector working across social and climate justice as an independent consultant.
Roger is a writer and educator who has taught and performed worldwide and is an experienced workshop leader and lecturer on poetry. He was chosen by Decibel as one of 50 writers who have influenced the black-British writing canon. He received commissions from The National Trust, London Open House, BBC, The National Portrait Gallery, V&A, INIVA, MK Gallery and Theatre Royal Stratford East where he also was associate artist. He is an alumni of The Complete Works.
His workshops have been part of a shortlist for the Gulbenkian Prize for Museums and Galleries and were also a part of the Webby Award winning Barbican’s Can I Have A Word. He was shortlisted for The OCM Bocas Poetry Prize, The Oxford Brookes Poetry Prize and highly commended by the Forward Poetry Prize 2013. He has toured extensively with the British Council and is a co-founder of both Spoke Lab and the international writing collective Malika’s Kitchen. He is the lead vocalist and lyricist for King Midas Sound and has also recorded solo albums with Jahtari Records.
Michael Rosen is one of the best-known figures in the children’s book world, renowned for his work as a poet, performer, broadcaster and scriptwriter. With a faultless ear for poetry and expert comic timing, Michael Rosen has been writing and performing his work for children since the 1970’s. A former Children’s Laureate, Rosen is one of the most familiar and distinctive writers (and voices) in children’s literature, having written and collaborated on more than 150 books of stories, jokes and poetry for all ages.
Kae Tempest is a poet. They are also a writer, a lyricist, a performer and a recording artist. They have published plays, poems, a novel, a book length non-fiction essay, released albums and toured extensively, selling out shows from Reykjavik to Rio de Janeiro. They received Mercury Music Prize nominations for both of the albums Everybody Down and Let Them Eat Chaos and two Ivor Novello nominations for their song-writing on The Book of Traps and Lessons. They were named a Next Generation Poet in 2014, a once in a decade accolade. They received the Ted Hughes Award for their long-form narrative poem Brand New Ancients and the Leone D’Argento at the Venice Teatro Biennale for their work as a playwright. Their books have been translated into eleven languages and published to critical acclaim around the world. They were born in London in 1985 where they still live. They hope to continue putting words together for a long time.