The Poetry Olympics celebrates Three Birthdays with a Jamboree of stellar performances at the Royal Albert Hall
On September 25th, the Royal Albert Hall will once again host The Poetry Olympics. This event, known this year as The Poetry Olympics Twenty05, celebrates the 40th anniversary of the First International Poetry Incarnation [Filmed as Wholly Communion] which jam-packed the Royal Albert Hall in 1965; the 25th year of Poetry Olympics festivals; and the 70th birthday of Olympic torchbearer and coordinator Michael Horovitz.
This year’s line-up features diverse artists, singer-songwriters, actors and musicians including Pete Townshend; Jerry Hall; Beth Orton; Fran Landesman; Linton Kwesi Johnson; Grace Nichols; Christopher Logue; Sujata Bhatt; John Hegley; Annie Whitehead, and Horovitz, among others tbc – and will be co-hosted by the BBC’s James Naughtie.
“It was like I’d climbed Mount Everest, or jumped out of a plane,” said Kylie Minogue about her appearance in the 1996 Albert Hall Olympics. “So many things I had avoided for so long were right there. That was what Nick [Cave] was saying to me. ‘It’ll be brilliant: it’ll confront all of your past, all in one fell swoop.’ And he was right.”
Produced by New Departures Ltd, a charitable publishing and performing group dedicated to the continuity of performance poetry and living arts, Poetry Olympics Twenty 05 aims to delight and inspire, and remind the audience of the power and pizzazz of intermedic and performance arts. This unrepeatable gathering brings together a nucleus of the most varied twenty-first century troubadours, reintroducing the public to perhaps the longest-standing known cultural tradition – of poetry, songs, music and acting conjoined in community celebration.
Previous Poetry Olympics have featured superlative performances by artists ranging from Allen Ginsberg and Paul McCartney, through Ray Davies with Damon Albarn, to Joe Strummer and Patti Smith.
This year’s line-up has been selected for the quality of its collective lyrics, music, poetry and performances to make for a unique evening of first-class entertainment. The event will levitate the Albert Hall by means of a transcultural time-travelling rocketship which harbours artists who starred in the momentous 1965 Internationale (Logue, Adrian Mitchell, Spike Hawkins) alongside younger contemporaries clearly set to carry the baton of vital lyric communications (Eliza Carthy, Stacy Makishi, Rachel Fuller) on – towards ever newer departures for future generations.
Check out the 'Wholly Communion' film and the other work of Peter Whitehead at