Events - Festival 2019

Old English for Poets

Friday 9 March, 10:30 - 12:30
Public Library, Church Square - Meeting Room

Borrowing from Anglo-Saxon: a workshop on kennings

Since the publication of Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf, there has been an explosion of interest in Old (as well as Middle) English poetry by contemporary poets. Yet the practice of raiding the Old English wordhoard for ideas and inspiration is actually much older; poets (from Tennyson to Edwin Morgan) had done so for over a hundred years before Heaney. In this, the first in a series of workshops over the next three festivals, we will be looking at how Anglo-Saxon poets coined ‘kennings’, periphrastic compound words that act as riddling little word-knots in their verse. We will also look at analogous examples in a range of modern poets, including an Anglo-Saxon influenced poem by W.S. Graham. Participants will be encouraged to invent their own kennings in a linked series of writing exercises designed to unlock your inner wordhoard!

Chris Jones is a senior lecturer in English at the University of St Andrews. He is the author of Strange Likeness: the use of Old English in Twentieth-century Poetry and Fossil Poetry: Anglo-Saxon and Linguistic Nativism in Nineteenth-century Poetry. He is sometimes a poet, and has previously published in magazines such as PN Review, Agenda and Poetry Wales. He has collaborated with poet Jacob Polley on the poet’s translation of The Ruin (in Havocs) and in co-authoring their 'twiddles', tweetable translations of Old English riddles.

In partnership with Fife Cultural Trust Libraries, Arts, Museums & Archives and supported by the School of English at the University of St Andrews

Participants: Chris Jones


Meeting Room – Public Library, Church Square

Location: On Church Square off South Street, set back behind Holy Trinity Church

This venue is the local Fife Council Public Library, an older traditional town building which has had an internal restoration in a modern, airy style...