Hannah Petch reviews The York Centre for Writing Poetry Series event, with Poet Will Harris!
On Monday 25th November I attended the second event of this semester’s poetry series; a reading and Q&A with poet Will Harris.
Will Harris is a writer of mixed Anglo-Indonesian heritage, born and based in London. He has worked in schools, led workshops at the Southbank Centre and teaches for The Poetry School. Harris kicked off the evening with a few readings before partaking in a Q&A with Caleb Klaces.
Prior to that evening I hadn’t read any of his poetry, however hearing him read aloud definitely made me want to buy a copy of his book. My favourite was a poem set in Wetherspoons, which Harris claimed he didn’t read out that often, as it required a lot of energy. And it was definitely energetic! It was really interesting as a Creative Writing student to hear a poem like that, it seemed more like a piece of theatre than a poem; it definitely gave me a lot of inspiration in terms of my own poetry. His poem ‘Another Life’ was also really interesting and sparked a lot of questions in the Q&A that followed. Harris wrote the poem after being shortlisted for a poetry prize against another poet, whose politics he did not agree with, and then subsequently lost out to that poet. It raised a lot of questions about prize culture and, as poets, who we write for. There was an interesting discussion about whether we ever write anything just for ourselves, or do we always write with the knowledge and intention of it being read by other people?
Overall, it was a fantastic evening. Will Harris is an excellent poet, his first full poetry collection ‘RENDANG’ is forthcoming in 2020, I would definitely recommend keeping an eye out for it.
There are also more events coming up in the poetry series next semester to coincide with the York Literature Festival with some fantastic poets, including Fran Lock and Mary-Jean Chan, already confirmed.