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Poetry on the Move Festival moves online

Katarina Slavich

2 June 2020: The Poetry on the Move Festival looks slightly different in 2020, with the celebration of poetry to be delivered fully online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

From this week until November, poets and poetry lovers will have the opportunity to come together to promote poetry and its benefit to the wider community in a virtual environment.

Most of Poetry on the Move’s 2020 activities will be delivered via the festival’s website, which was created by University of Canberra students for last year’s festival.

Old and new friends of the festival are set to help contribute to the online offerings, including three online poets-in-residence: Vahni Capildeo from Trinidad and the United Kingdom, Yeow Kai Chai from Singapore, and Australian poet Lisa Brockwell. They will be submitting monthly articles from their parts of the world, responding to poetry and poetics during this time of isolation and lockdown.

There will also be a series of free online poetry workshops in September, October and November run by Owen Bullock, Subhash Jaireth, Lucy Alexander and Melinda Smith.

Festival Director Shane Strange, from the University’s Faculty of Arts and Design, says he is excited the festival will be held in some capacity this year.

“During what has been an extraordinary and challenging year, many people have increasingly turned to poetry for solace and comfort, for a reminder of lasting values, and to find a sense of community among those who treasure poetry as much as we do at the Poetry on the Move festival,” said Mr Strange.

“The global poetry community has really utilised the online environment, in this era of social distancing, to keep poetry alive.”

Poets from past festivals will come together for a ‘Well-known Corners’ project as part of this year’s festival. The project aims to chart people’s relationships with the idea of ‘home’ during this period, through a series of monthly video readings of new work. Festivalgoers can also get involved by submitting their own poems on this theme.

The Canberra and wider community will have the opportunity to take part in a series of online workshops on topics including Japanese forms and poetry from the everyday. Established Canberra poets will run the week-long workshops where participants can undertake exercises to develop their poetry writing.

“An online festival will enable us to keep our festival audience actively engaged with the concept and structure of the festival, at a time when face-to-face activities are severely restricted,” said Mr Strange.

“The online delivery of the festival will allow us to expand the audience reach, while highlighting and utilising the innovative projects and delivery mechanisms that characterise so much poetry during this period.”

For more information on the festival program and how you can be involved, visit the Poetry on the Move website.