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National Poetry Library pays homage to one of the all-time geniuses of world literature, the revolutionary French poet Arthur Rimbaud.

Rimbaud spent 14 months of his meteorically brief literary career in London. In 1872-73 he lived with Paul Verlaine in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mornington Crescent. In 1874 he returned with poet Germaine Nouveau and lived on the South Bank in Stamford Street.

The event features a very special line-up of poets who have been seriously influenced by Rimbaud.

Poet and biographer Jeremy Reed will read from his two major adaptions The Black Book and The Illuminations.

Poets Paul Stubbs and Blandine Longre visit from Paris to read ‘Beyond the Poem’ – a metaphysical essay – and Rimbaud’s ‘Barbare’ respectively.

The poet and musician Penny Rimbaud is writing a piece for the occasion channelling Rimbaud “through the ears of John Coltrane and the eyes of Jackson Pollock”. He will be accompanied on saxophone by Louise Elliot.

Poet Sean Bonney – author of Happiness and advocate of Rimbaud as communard and petroleuse – visits from Berlin.

Irish poet-psychogeographer Niall McDevitt will debut his Pidgin English versions of key Rimbaud texts.

There will be a slideshow of Rimbaud’s London by photographer Max Reeves.

Join us on August 1 – the Celtic feast day of Lughnasa – for what promises to be an unforgettable tribute to the first modernist poet.


The corporate sectors are a mono-stylistic circus, arcades within arcades.
The boutiques are nondescript, but the snow on the flagstones is crushed.
Occasional nabobs, rare as pedestrians on a Sunday morning in London,
make their way towards diamond coaches… I think there is a police force
but the law is so different here I can’t imagine what their criminals are like.

– Cities [2]

Photo: Max Reeves

Tickets: https://www.nationalpoetrylibrary.org.uk/events-exhibitions/rimbaud-london

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A William Blake Walk from Tyburn to Primrose Hill


Niall McDevitt – having created westerly, easterly and southerly Blake walks – unveils the first of two northerly Blake walks.

The site of Tyburn is undoubtedly the most abhorrent in the Blakean imagination. While the Vatican chose to counteract the executions by building the Tyburn Convent, Blake erected a psycho-architectural monument which he called ‘The Gate of Los’.

The walk follows the course of the Tyburn river while telling the stories of Catherine Blake, The Jews Harp Tavern, the Cato conspiracy and George Richmond.

The pilgrimage ends on the magical apex of Primrose Hill where Blake ‘saw the spiritual sun’, and where – 150 years later – Allen Ginsberg meditated with Iain Sinclair filming.

Meeting under Marble Arch on Sat 30 June at 2pm. £10

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A WILLIAM BLAKE/WAT TYLER WALK is a June celebration of London radicalism and the insurgent spirit. Niall McDevitt tells the story of the Peasants’ Revolt – now rebranded as the Great Rising – connecting it with the life and death of England’s most beloved radical poet and artist, William Blake.

The Savoy Hotel meeting point is not only the site of John of Gaunt’s palace but also close to the final Fountain Court address of William Blake, where he famously died singing. Blake was fascinated by Wat Tyler and drew a portrait of Tyler as one of his Visionary Heads series. produced in 1818.

The closest Blake came to seeing an equivalent of the Great Uprising was the Gordon Riots of 1780. McDevitt shall explain how Blake’s comically accidental involvement in the Riots influenced his work and politics. A decade later, he was a vocal supporter of the French Revolution, but one of many radicals who waited in vain for it to cross the channel.

The walk will pass through the Smithfields site of Tyler’s assassination and finish at the burial place of Blake. There will also be fascinating vistas of the lives and deaths of such fellow radicals as John Milton and William Wallace.

Sun 10 Jun meeting at the front entrance to the Savoy Hotel, on Strand, ar 2pm. (We shall finish with drinks at the Blake table in the Masque Haunt pub on Old Street.) £10

Bookings: http://www.thenewriverpress.com/events-2/2018/6/10/june-10th-a-blakewat-tyler-walk


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will and em

Poet Niall McDevitt tells the widely known but little appreciated story of Emilia Bassano, Shakespeare’s lifelong muse, and – as Emilia Lanier – the first woman to publish a book of original poetry in England.

In the heart of London McDevitt will evoke the world of Emilia and her contemporaries in the Elizabethan-Jacobean Renaissance. He will explore what we know of Lanier’s relationship with Shakespeare, how her influence can be pinpointed from the earliest to the final plays, and how she was ‘discovered’ in the 1970s by the maverick Elizabethan scholar AL Rowse.

Emilia Bassano was born into the illustrious Bassano family, musicians who had been induced to emigrate to England by Henry VIII himself. Their Italian and Sephardic Jewish ancestry accounted for the complexion that gave rise to the legend of the ‘Dark Lady’.

McDevitt will explain the schism in Lanier studies between some scholars who teach her poetry but refuse to accept the idea she is the character from Shakespeare’s sonnets 127-154, and yet others who feel that here at last the mystery is solved. As an aside, McDevitt will also quickly dismiss the lunatic fringe who claim Emilia Lanier wrote Shakespeare.

What emerges is the vista of a fascinating friendship between a male and female writer which forces us to think of Shakespeare and Lanier as something akin to the modern literary partnerships of Robert Graves and Laura Riding, or Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. McDevitt will argue that the high minded cadences of Lanier’s Salve Deus Rex Judeaorum (1611) are a deliberate riposte to Shakespeare’s scurrilous portrait of her in Shakespeare’s Sonnets (1609).

McDevitt will examine the work they wrote in the light of their connection, contrasting the controlled religious poetry of Lanier with the sometimes unhinged sonnets of Shakespeare.

For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright,
Who art as black as hell, as dark as night. (147)

Meeting outside Tower Hill tube station by the statue of Trajan at 2pm. The walk will last approx. two and a half hours and finish within walking distance of Shoreditch station or Old Street tube. £10


Group bookings are available most weekdays and evenings: 077221638823


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Poet-psychogeographer Niall McDevitt commemorates the month of Shakespeare’s birth and death with his much imitated but never equalled walk THE SQUARE MILE SHAKESPEARE.

McDevitt proves that you don’t have to go to Stratford-on-Avon or Bankside to follow the trail of our finest writer. We are taught about the messy London in which he lived, about the Elizabethan and the Jacobean Shakespeare, the cautious, wise, and almost neurotic man beyond the plays, as well as his very specific place within the city’s society during his lifetime.

Under a beautiful marble statue of the First Folio, McDevitt will argue that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare, dismissing the Marlowe theory as ‘cobblers’ and the Bacon theory as ‘not kosher’.

Meeting outside Blackfriars Station (north entrance) on Sat 21 and Sat 28 April at 2pm. The walk will last approx. two hours and finish at Barbican.

We will process to the Sir John Oldcastle in Farringdon for a well-earned cup of sack.


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Poet-psychogeographer Niall McDevitt takes an epic walk from border to border of Hammersmith Borough through a half century of poetry.

The great poets who’ve lived in Hammersmith include John Milton, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Morris and WB Yeats.

There are stories of black magic, drug addiction, riverside rent-boys and double suicide attempts at such sites as ‘The Isis-Urania Temple’ and ‘The Madhouse of Hammersmith’. Other poets in a stellar cast include such modern giants as Dylan Thomas, David Gascoyne, George Barker, Laura Riding, Robert Graves, WH Auden and Ezra Pound.

And there are the popular poets Ian Dury, Shane MacGowan, Joe Strummer, Bob Marley.

Sun Mar 25 and Sun April 1 Meeting at Kensington Olympia Station for 2pm. The walk will last approx. 2 hours and finish at Ravenscourt Park tube.

To book tickets via New River Press http://www.thenewriverpress.com/events-2/2018/3/4/march-4th-the-poets-of-hammersmith-kensington-olympia-station-niall-mcdevitt-london-poetry-walks



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Poet-psychogeographer Niall McDevitt takes a walk of discovery along the Thames tracing the 700-year history of poets and poetry in the area.

Elizabethans, Romantics, Decadents and Beats feature prominently.

There are the geniuses of England: Marlowe, Shakespeare, Jonson; of Europe: Heine, Rimbaud, Verlaine; and America: Melville, Ginsberg, Dylan; as well as a bonus Robbie Burns from Scotland.

McDevitt tells the story of the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt and how Geoffrey Chaucer luckily managed to escape death at the hands of the Kentish rebels.

But perhaps the most haunting figure is that of the doomed Ernest Dowson who inspired the title of Wilde’s most famous play.

Meeting Sat 24 March and Sat Mar 31 for 2pm in the churchyard of St Martin in the Fields., Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 4JJ. £10

The walk will last approx. two hours and will finish in The Olde Cheshire Cheese close to Blackfriars tube.

To book tickets via New River Press: http://www.thenewriverpress.com/events-2/

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Niall McDevitt

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