Recent Blakean events

While our Coming Up page features new talks, seminars, festivals or other events that we know are happening in the next few months or so, this page gives information and links for events that have already happened. Our most recent additions are at the top of the page and, where possible, we give a link to the organisers should you want to find out more.

Inevitably, this is only a sample of what’s going on. Many of the organisations and people featured in our More Resources pages have a programme of events, so do check out their activities and sign up to their newsletters. 

In other parts of A Blakean Archive, you can keep up with:

  • Finding Blake’s blog posts – contributions from project members and other creative minds.
  • Finding Blake’s films – interviews with poets, artists, scholars and many others about their relationship with Blake, the making and siting of Blake’s new gravestone, and more. 
  • Interesting articles and creative artefacts that have explored or been inspired by aspects of Blake’s life, work and relevance.


 

Joy: On Catherine Blake
London - Wednesday 12th September For this Blake Society event, poet, translator and editor Sasha Dugdale read from her Forward Prize-winning poem Joy, a monologue written in the voice of Catherine Blake following William Blake’s death, and talk about the process of researching and writing the poem. Joy’s title poem was recipient of the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in 2016. 
Blakefest 2018 
Bognor Regis - Saturday 15th September 2018 The fourth annual Blakefest was a celebration of William Blake and his impact on the 60s. Headlined by Lene Lovich and including the music of George Harrison from the 10-piece All Things Must Pass Orchestra and Jazz from Emily Dankworth with the Jamie Lemming Trio. Plus: poetry, featuring Sasha Dugdale and ‘On the Streets’ Art Exhibition with the English and Creative Writing Department of Chichester - and Niall McDevitt at William and Catherine Blake's Cottage in Felpham; and Building Jerusalem, a public meeting exploring the relevance of William Blake’s poem/hymn Jerusalem and wider philosophy, to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Britain’s potential role in finding a solution to it. 
The Glastonbury William Blake Festival 2018
Glastonbury, Wednesday 8th - Friday 10th August 2018 An exciting new three-day festival for Glastonbury 2018 to celebrate the life and work of visionary British artist, poet and printmaker, William Blake. Events included discussion on how the 60’s Beat Poets were influenced by Blake’s incredible art and poetry and will explore their connections with Glastonbury, ‘William Blake and the Glastonbury Gnosis‘. You can see film of some of the talks and events at the Glastonbury Positive Living Group.
Niall McDevitt’s William Blake walks
Poet and psychogeographer Niall McDevitt leads a series of walks exploring William Blake's life and work in London. Recent examples in 2018 include Jerusalems's Pillars, William Blake & the Visionary Poets of Hampstead, A William Blake Walk, A Rimbaud Blake Waterloo Lambeth Walk "A passionate, obsessive Blakean. There is no better way to learn about our great mystic, and there is so much!" Niall's post My Streets Are, My Ideas of Imagination was published on Finding Blake in June 2018 and you can find his earlier piece on "Urban shaman and psychogeographer" via the Blakean Articles page of A Blakean Archive.
Blake Songs
London, Thursday 12th July 2018  The Guildhall School of Music’s premier jazz vocal group presents Blake Songs, an innovative setting by John Ashton Thomas of poems by William Blake for voices with improvising jazz trio, commissioned by the Martin Speake trio. The first half of the concert features close-harmony arrangements of great jazz standards and original music by director Scott Stroman, Gene Puerling, and others.
Winchester Poetry Festival presents Joy’ by Sasha Dugdale
Winchester, 21st June 2018 The title poem of Sasha Dugdale’s latest collection and winner of the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem 2016, ‘Joy’ is a dramatic monologue in the voice of Catherine, widow of the poet and engraver William Blake. In addition to being a moving meditation on loss, the work is a poignant evocation of the couple’s long and creative companionship and the life of a truly remarkable artist.

Actress Linda Bassett read this beautifully crafted poem, described by the Forward judges as ‘an extraordinarily sustained visionary piece of writing'. Sasha Dugdale spoke about the research and writing of the poem.

(You can read more about Joy at the Blake In Literature section of our Other Blakean Artefacts page.

William Blake and the American Counterculture

London, 6th June 2018 Dr Linda Freedman identified key moments of literary Blakeanism in the American counterculture. Blake was a formative influence on major writers and musicians from Allen Ginsberg to Bob Dylan, the Doors and Patti Smith, listen to selected songs. 

50 years ago, Allen Ginsberg read William Blake’s ‘I saw a Monk of Charlemaine’ as he stood with the crowds outside the Chicago Democratic Convention to protest against America’s increasingly sinister war in Vietnam. In the same year, Theodore Roszak coined the term ‘counterculture’, bringing his own brand of Blakeanism to the fore. This was a generation in which left-wing American radicals could identify America itself as Satanic – in its imperialism, its capitalism, its racism and its war in Vietnam – but they could also feel America to be vibrantly alive with the radicalism of the arts and theology. Blake spoke to this mood. 
Daemon Voices
London, 31st May 2018 Philip Pullman -- President of the Blake Society -- talked about the art and craft of storytelling at the Blake Society 2018 Annual Lecture. He spoke on the importance of stories, giving examples from his newest work, La Belle Sauvage, and drew on Daemon Voices, his recently published book on storytelling, as well as the influence on his writing of Blake, Milton and the Bible.

UPDATE: Philip Pullman's lecture is now available to watch on the Blake Society's YouTube channel.
William Blake, Biblical Prophecy and Jesus 
Cambridge, 14th May 2018 This event at St James’ Church Wulfstan Way Cambridge saw Revd Prof Christopher Rowland -- the author of Blake and the Bible -- speak on ‘Blake and Prophecy’, and  Revd Dr Malcolm Guite, an author, poet, singer-songwriter and Anglican priest, speak on ‘Blake and Jesus’.  
Leeds Lieder Festival to turn poetry into song 
Leeds, 22nd April 2018 As previewed in the Yorkshire Evening Post (19/3/18), this event was to cover the cornerstones of the Lieder repertoire alongside works written especially for this year’s festival. Highlights include composer Daniel Kidane presenting a brand new song cycle Songs of Illumination, set to poetry by William Blake. 
Satanic Error – the value of William Blake’s mythology for clinical practice and everyday life
Oxford, 10th March 2018: an event of the British Psychotherapy Foundation

Speaker Carol Leader - a Jungian analyst and senior psychoanalytic psychotherapist with the British Psychotherapy Foundation - worked extensively in theatre, TV and radio before re-training as a therapist twenty years ago. She is in full time private practice, consults in business and for projects in the arts and writes, lectures and leads workshops and seminars for a number of professional trainings. This talk included a summary and further development of themes explored in Carol’s paper Evil, Imagination and the Unrepressed Unconscious: the Value of William Blake’s Satanic ‘Error’ for Clinical Practice. 

The poet and artist William Blake was profoundly affected by the impact of the industrial revolution and railed against ‘Satanic Mills’. For Blake these ‘mills’ represent an aspect of the human mind that is in a state of repetitive ‘Error’ that has an alarming impact on the individual and society. Blake offers a powerful experiential portal or ‘cipher’ into both this ‘mechanical’ state and liberation from it through his writings and illustrations of ‘Satan.’ Blake’s explorations can be seen to be in the same territory as, but to pre-date the work of Freud, Jung, Bion and also later analytic writers. More recently McGilchrist (2012) in The Master and his Emissary powerfully adds to Blake’s insights with a wealth of contemporary research relating to a dangerous over-valuation of left-brain, scientific processing in the western world coupled with a denigration of the profound relational and integrative qualities that right brain functions promote.

You can watch another talk Carol gave, 'William Blake and the Therapists', which is available on the Blake Society YouTube channel.
‘William Blake: Radical Prophet’
Chichester 22nd February 2018 Speaker Professor Christopher Rowland's illustrated lecture related to his new book, Radical Prophet: The Mystics, Subversives and Visionaries who Strove for Heaven on Earth (I.B.Tauris, 2017). In this book he explores the fact that Christianity began with the conviction that the old order was finished. The mysterious, elusive and charismatic figure of Jesus proclaimed that a new era, the Kingdom of God, was dawning.
 
Yet despite its success, and the conversion of the empire which had executed its founder, the religion he inspired was soon domesticated, its counter-cultural radicalism tamed, as the Church attempted to control both its doctrines and its followers. Christopher Rowland shows that this was never the whole story, and in this lecture he focuses on the extraordinary figure of William Blake. Blake may be best known for the words to the hymn 'Jerusalem', but that he was hardly an 'establishment' figure is indicated by his trial for sedition in the Assizes court at Chichester. This was in 1803, during the four years of his life spent in Sussex. Otherwise Blake lived in London, working as an engraver, mixing with dissident thinkers concerned with social justice and equality, and producing the visionary poetry and artwork for which he is renowned.
Blake Fest 2017
Bognor Regis, September 2017 A two day festival of music and comedy, and a multisensory exhibition, "with a simple desire to shout-out about Blake’s 'Poetic Genius' and reveal something of the hidden beauty he discovered here. Blake’s Beulah, a window into heaven, I wanted reflected in our festival’s culture, interaction with nature, music and art."

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