Beats and poetry celebrated

Music, poetry, films and talks are packed into two days as part of the month-long Lutonia festival bringing literary talent to the fore in Luton.

Thursday, 10th March 2016, 7:30 am
Clockwise from top left: Jeff Towns, Daniel G Williams, Iain Sinclair and  Ceri Murphy
Clockwise from top left: Jeff Towns, Daniel G Williams, Iain Sinclair and Ceri Murphy

The Hat Factory in Bute Street hosts an eight-hour ‘Beats Day’ on Saturday March 19 and Luton Library Theatre hosts three events presented by Poet in the City on Sunday March 20.

‘The Beats’ events on Saturday March 19 comprise a whole day dedicated to the Beat Generation, which emerged in 1950’s America, with a group of writers who were non-conformists to the literary constraints and norms of the day, and who openly explored their sexuality, experimented with psychedelic drugs and wrote in graphic detail about the human condition.

Some of the defining books of the era, including Allen Ginsberg’s Howl (1956) and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (1957), are among the topics discussed, with talks from New York filmmaker David Shulman, British writer and filmmaker Iain Sinclair, and Mancunian poet Mike Garry. There will also be a rare screening of the film No More to Say, Nothing to Weep For and a live performance of Howl by Welsh poet Ceri Murphy followed by an evening of Jazz and Beats poetry.

An exhibition featuring the work of fine artist Simon Dark whose spray-painted portraits of the major figures of the Beat writers will be on display alongside rare signed books and manuscripts. Some originals and signed prints of artwork will be available for purchase.

Jeff Towns, who helped organise the Beats day, said: “This year is the 60th anniversary of the publication of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl - which vies with Kerouac’s On The Road and Burroughs’ Naked Lunch in being the seminal work of the Beat phenomena. So the day celebrates Allen Ginsberg, but our contributors all madly enthusiastic and well qualified will all bring something for the audiences’ delight - readings, films, jazz and performance that will leave your senses reeling.”

On Sunday March 20, Poet in The City present works by Faiz Ahmed Faiz and William Shakespeare. They also bring the boldest contemporary voices to Luton to deliver social manifestos in poetry for an uncompromising and look at the world today, in a ‘Poetry Parliament’.

Poet in the City is a leading literature organisation which creates inspiring platforms and new audiences for poetry, and works with leading UK and international poets, celebrated actors and experts from across the arts and beyond to present poetry in a new and dynamic way.

The event will explore the work of , Faiz Ahmed Faiz, known as Pakistan’s Shakespeare, with contemporary voices including critic Amina Yaqin and Aamer Hussein. T S Elliot Prize winner Don Paterson will look at the timelessness of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, while the Poetry Parliament with Anthony Anaxagorou, Dean Atta, Caroline Bird and Deanna Rodger will tackle issues from austerity to human rights, and everything in between.

For more information and to book tickets, go to, call the box office on 01582 878100 or follow on social media @lutonlibraries, #Lutonia.