Tribute to poet Ken Smith

Ken Smith has been described as "our Diogenes", a visionary, skeptic, romantic realist, wordsmith, hunter gatherer, maverick, humanitarian and one of the most important English poets writing today with one of the best radio voices ever.

A Tribute to Poet Ken Smith will be held on Sunday, 4 July, 2004 from 2-5 pm at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1R.

He published over 20 collections of poems, the last being new and collected works, "Shed", published by Bloodaxe Books in 2002 and spanning 20 years' work. Additionally, he wrote two major non-fiction works, "Inside Time", about his work as writer in residence at Wormwood Scrubs Prison, and "Berlin:Coming In From The Cold", described as the best book ever written on the Berlin Wall. He co-edited, with Judi Benson, "Klaonica: Poems for Bosnia", proceeds of which went to Feed the Children in 1993. Also, with Matthew Sweeney, he co-edited "Bedlam" an anthology of surviver's poetry. In 1997 he was the recipient of a Lannan Foundation Award for his "life's work".

Ken lived and taught in America for 5 years. Latterly, his interest turned to Eastern Europe. He travelled extensively to such places as: Berlin, Hungary, Slovenia, the Ukraine, Russia, Colombia, Macedonia, America, Sarajevo, Prague, Vienna, Spain, Italy, and lastly Cuba where he contracted Legionnaires Disease.

He died 6 months later from complications resulting from the disease. From his travels he created a series of radio poems which were broadcast on BBC Radio 3, produced by Tim Dee. An extraordinary man of great observation, he influenced several generations of young poets and was much respected by fellow poets, though kept himself out of the mainstream. His work has been translated into numerous languages including Japanese, Spanish, French, Italian, Bosnian, Hungarian etc.

Admission: Ł3
Bring your own bottle of refreshment.

Poets reading from his work will include: Agneta Falk, Jack Hirschman, Tom Pickard, Sean O'Brien, John Hartley Williams and a mystery guest or two.

There will also be a recording of Ken reading "My Father Fading Out", a BBC Radio 3 programme produced by Tim Dee who will introduce the piece.

Music by : Roger Leach on fiddle and Mandy Murray on squeezebox.

The event will also be in conjunction with a Bloodaxe Books publication - "You Again" - featuring Ken's last poems, interviews, tributes, photos etc.


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