As part of our Shakespeare Lives programme of events, prominent contemporary UK poets and critics will discuss the nature of Shakespeare’s sonnets, their resonance in Shakespeare’s own plays, and in today’s writing and thinking. Over the centuries, the sonnets have invited imitation, reverence and critique. Shakespeare’s sonnets are works that cross and challenge the boundaries of love, friendship, gender and literary form, and question what it means to be human. The discussion will try to find new insights into Shakespeare’s enigmatic poems.
Fiona Benson (b. 1978 Wroughton) began keeping a poetry notebook at 17 on hearing that someone she knew wrote poetry. Suddenly, poetry ‘seemed permissible and possible’. She discovered Seamus Heaney, Sylvia Plath and Emily Dickinson at this time. Although she considered becoming an actor or a lawyer, she says ‘poetry just gradually became the thing I depended on’. In 2006 Benson won an Eric Gregory Award and a Faber New Poets Award.
Ruth Padel is a British poet, novelist, conservatist, critic and author, and the first Writer in Residence at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. She teaches Poetry at King’s College London and has published nine poetry collections, a novel and eight books of non-fiction, including three on reading poetry. Her recent book The Mara Crossing/ON MIGRATION is a mixed-genre meditation on migration in prose and poetry. Her awards include First Prize in the UK National Poetry Competition, a Cholmondeley Award from The Society of Authors, an Arts Council of England Writers’ Award and a British Council Darwin Now Research Award for her novel Where the Serpent Lives. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Member of the Bombay Natural History Society, Ambassador for New Networks for Nature, Patron of 21st-Century Tiger and a Council Member of the Zoological Society of London.
Born in Athens in 1952, Dionysis Kapsalis studied Literature in the USA and at King’s College London. He has published poetry, essays and translations of poetry (Emily Dickinson, Shakespeare Sonnets etc.). For the theatre, he has translated Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days as well as several works by Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, Othello, Pericles, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet. His poems have been set to music by Nikos Xydakis, Dimitris Papadimitriou, Giorgos Christianakis, Diafana Krina and others. He works at the National Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation (MIET), where he has held the position of Director since 1999. He teaches Literature at the National Theatre of Greece Drama School and sits on the Curatorial Council of the National Library of Greece. He has been a doctor ‘honoris causa’ at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Philosophy Faculty since 2015.