Revoicing Medieval Poetry

  • Date and time: Thursday 30 November 2023, 5pm
  • Location: Huntingdon Room (K122), King's Manor, Exhibition Square (Map)
  • Admission: Free admission, booking required

Book tickets

Event details

Join poets Susie Campbell and Ruth Wiggins for an evening of readings and discussion about their recent poetry publications: The Sleeping Place (Susie Campbell, 2023) and The Lost Book of Barkynge (Ruth Wiggins, 2023).

The Sleeping Place is Susie Campbell’s second book with Guillemot Press, following Tenter in 2020, which began the collaboration with the artist and archaeologist Rose Ferraby. Archaeological excavations of a ‘heritage’ Saxon burial ground are staged in The Sleeping Place as provisional assemblages of language and visual collage out of whose layers of complexity and insistent patterning the reader is invited to re-assemble the past as creative event. Bones, beads, chalk burials and other material traces of an unstable past become moving pieces in an elaborate word-game in a bid to deconstruct the violent, nationalist myth of a white Anglo-Saxon ‘originary’.

In her debut collection The Lost Book of Barkynge, Ruth Wiggins recovers the forgotten voices of the nuns, abbesses and local women of the medieval abbey at Barking. Against a backdrop of famine, plague, war and spiritual upheaval, these poems explore the strange, uncertain days of the early abbey: mysterious visions, politics, violence and sisterhood, and end with the final abbess mourning the eradication of her home as the Dissolution unhouses her, her sisters, and countless others across Europe. Barking was one of the most significant abbeys in Britain and a centre of learning for women, it offered space to the devout, the bookish, and those who simply did not fit anywhere else.

Both poets are fascinated by how traces of the medieval past might survive in, or indeed haunt, the places and landscapes we continue to inhabit. For this event – one in a series of conversations the poets have been developing across the year – Susie and Ruth will read from their work and reflect on how medieval literature and culture has informed their process and practice.