Anna Akhmatova: Graham Fawcett Thursday 1 July 2021 7.30pm

Do go; these are very special occasions.’ Bridport Review

Anna Akhmatova

A talk with readings by Graham Fawcett

Rescheduled to Thursday 1 July 2021 7.30pm

Tickets: £12.50.

Reserve a table for supper at Café Sladers from 6pm.

Please phone 01308 459511 to book now! 

Anna Akhmatova photo by Moisei Nappelbaum 1926

Anna Akhmatova’s was one of the most dramatic lives in the history of poetry. She lived through the Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917 when she was 16 and 28. Her ex-husband was executed by firing squad when she was 32. Stalin had her son repeatedly imprisoned as part of a campaign of persecution against her. She endured the bombardment prior to the Siege of Leningrad in 1941 with the inspirational mother-courage of Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People, broadcasting to the women of Leningrad – we have the stirring transcripts – and on air-warden duty with a gas-mask slung over her shoulder. 

No sooner was the war over than Akhmatova was ‘officially’ vilified in public in 1946 by Stalin’s sidekick Zhdanov as the epitomy of the anti-State artist and intellectual, “poisoning the youth with the pernicious spirit of her poetry”. Nearly twenty years later, Akhmatova, begowned in the purple of a Doctor of Literature, stood next to Siegfried Sassoon in Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre to hear the Public Orator compare her to Sappho.

At the end of her life, Akhmatova looked back gratefully at what she had been through: “I never stopped writing poems. In them is my link with time, with the new life of my people . . . I believed in the resounding rhythms reflected in the heroic history of my country. I am happy that I lived in these years and saw events which cannot be equalled”. 

“The young girl who reinvented herself as Anna Akhmatova”, wrote Elaine Feinstein, “would become one of the two greatest female poets in Russian literature; the other, Marina Tsvetayeva, would crown her with the title “Anna of all the Russias.” 

We in Britain recognise her as one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. What is more, the relevance of her life to ours in the 21st becomes more remarkable with every day that passes !

“Splendid, and gripping”.

(Mick Delap, after Akhmatova Night in Greenwich)

“A fascinating lecture. People were enthralled and totally engaged”.

(Irena Hill, after Akhmatova Night in Greenwich)


Dante’s Inferno

Thursday 9 September 7.30pm

“Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them; there is no third”, declared T S Eliot in his 1929 essay on the poet. Dante’s Divine Comedy, a 14,000-line verse narrative of heart-stopping brilliance, written in terza rima, the beguiling aba bcb cdc rhyme scheme which he had invented, tells the apparently autobiographical story of how, at Easter in the year 1300, Dante had set out, with the ghost of the Roman poet Virgil as his guide, on a life-changing journey which led him down into Hell, up the mountain of Purgatory to the Earthly Paradise, and beyond. 

In Dante’s Inferno night, within days of the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death in Ravenna on 14th September 1321, Graham Fawcett re-traces Dante’s footsteps from the moment when he found himself, at the age of 35, lost in a dark wood, with no sign of the path. How could he find his way out and so get his life back? He makes the journey that no-one else has survived. Inferno, the first book of his Divine Comedy, inspires, astonishes and exhilarates readers across the world to this day with the sheer versatility of its profoundly realistic imagination.

Graham Fawcett is especially brilliant when describing Dante’s wonderfully redemptive work.

Tickets: £12.50. 

Reserve a table for supper at Café Sladers from 6pm.

Please phone 01308 459511 to book now! 

GRAHAM FAWCETT has lectured or led workshops at literary festivals throughout Britain on reading and writing poetry. A highly entertaining lecturer, writer and educator, he has been a tutor for The Poetry School since 1997, devising and teaching new courses on poetry past and present from around the world. Previous to that he wrote and presented radio programmes about literature and music on BBC Radio 3 for many years.

Graham Fawcett’s talks explore leading poets, their lives, the political and cultural environment in which they wrote and, most of all, their work. The programme is two 45 minute halves with an interval.

Enjoy a delicious light pre-lecture dinner served by the celebrated and award-winning Café Sladers. For £17.50 you can enjoy a full main course from a menu of seafood, free-range meat and vegetarian dishes. Let us know if you have special dietary requirements. A wonderful selection of wines, desserts and cheese are available à la carte.

Please phone 01308 459511 to book your tickets now.

“We [the audience] were more than happy to stay the course, stunned and astonished in equal measure. Stunned by the breadth and depth of Fawcett’s criticism, astonished at our luck to be living miles from a university yet participating in what, to all intents and purposes, was a post-graduate lecture, presented with immaculate complexity by a master of ceremonies par-excellence.”

Elaine Beckett

2 Responses to Anna Akhmatova: Graham Fawcett Thursday 1 July 2021 7.30pm

  1. Rosie Mathisen says:

    Is the Anna Akhmatova evening still on? Assume not as we re not able to meet inside yet so do you have an alternative date?


    Rosie Mathisen

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