New poetry films released to mark Thomas Chatterton anniversary

16th November 2020

Categories: Latest News

A series of new poetry films will be released across social media next week to mark the 250th anniversary of Bristol poet Thomas Chatterton’s death on 20 November. From Sunday 15 November to Thursday 20, poems by Anthony Anaxagorou, Theresa Lola, Keith Jarrett, Fran Lock and Chris McCabe will be released each day. On Friday 20th November, all poems will be uploaded as a montage on the Festival of Ideas YouTube channel. The poems, each responding to Henry Wallis’ painting Chatterton, were filmed in front of the painting during its loan from Tate to the RWA in Bristol last month.

Poet Theresa Lola in front of Henry Wallis’ painting ‘Chatterton’, at the RWA, image Michael Jenkins A
Poet Theresa Lola in front of Henry Wallis’ painting ‘Chatterton’, at the RWA, image Michael Jenkins

“After spending months talking to the poets about their preparation, research and writing, it was quite a surreal experience to see the poems performed live beside the original piece of art. Upon arrival in the room, all of the poets commented on how the colours look completely different in person, and how it felt like an emotional connection with the painting had been formed through their relationship with the poem. Michael Jenkins' videography paired the
painting and the poet in a way that really captured the intense and intimate atmosphere so excellently curated by RWA in the exhibition room. We're really proud of the project and the anthology of poems, and these films are a brilliant celebration and culmination of the whole experience.” Danny Pandolfi and Lucy English, Lyra.

2020 marks 250 years since the death of Bristol-born poet Thomas Chatterton. Despite his accolade as the “Father of Romantic Poetry”, he’s largely unknown in Bristol. A Poetic City is a multi-partner, citywide programme bringing to light Bristol’s links to this iconic literary figure. It offers the opportunity to link contemporary poetry practice to its roots in the past, and to bring forgotten past stories back into the light. It is celebrating Bristol’s vibrant and diverse contemporary poetry scene and inspire and commission poets of the future. The programme includes new publications; poetry commissions and readings; mental health workshops; lectures; and an exhibition of Henry Wallis’ famous Chatterton painting. As well as looking to the past, A Poetic City will touch on issues from Thomas Chatterton’s lifetime which are still relevant today, including young people and mental health, encouraging young people with artistic talent and exploring fake news.

The poetry films will be released on Lyra’s social media platforms (Twitter: @LyraFest; Facebook: with the hashtag #BristolPoeticCity

The filmed poems all feature in a new #BristolPoeticCity anthology. The anthology includes new poems written by former Bristol City Poet Vanessa Kisuule and current Bristol City Poet Caleb Parkin, as well as Josie Alford; Anthony Anaxagorou; Emily Berry; Rachael Boast; Keith Jarrett; Malaika Kegode; Fran Lock; Theresa Lola; Chris McCabe; Rebecca Tantony and Tom Sastry. It is available as a download at

The programme is funded thanks to grants awarded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, using money raised by National Lottery players.

“Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, we are pleased to support this project which, through the story of Thomas Chatterton, will explore Bristol’s poetic heritage and inspire new generations to look at the city’s history and future from a new and creative perspective.” Stuart McLeod, Director London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Follow the project on Twitter using the hashtag #BristolPoeticCity and on the Facebook page

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