University of Hertfordshire announces Poet’s Corner stage at Festival of Ideas including tribute to acclaimed late poet

 10 May 2024 10 May 2024
10 May 2024

The University of Hertfordshire has announced a new poetry stage at its Festival of Ideas, which will include a tribute to critically acclaimed, late poet, Gboyega Odubanjo.

The "Poet’s Corner" stage will feature poetry of many different genres across the two-day festival, taking place on 17 and 18 May, with appearances from some of the most exciting names in London’s poetry scene, as well as a celebrated children’s poet and a young peoples’ open mic competition.

The weekend is set to close with a tribute to award-winning poet Gboyega Odubanjo, who was a lecturer and PhD student at Herts when he sadly passed away last summer.

“We know that this will be an emotional and poignant event paying tribute to the life and work of Gboyega,” said Dr Chris Lloyd, Associate Professor of Learning and Teaching at the University. “He is sorely missed but his work lives on and we are pleased to be able to perform it at such a collaborative occasion with his family and friends present.”

The programme for Poet’s Corner is as follows:

Friday, 17 May

11.00-12.00, 13.00-14.00 - Poet’s Corner Junior Open Mic Competition

Step up, speak up and proudly perform a poem at our Poet’s Corner Junior Open Mic Competition on Friday 17 May. Be it a favourite poem or something you’ve written yourself, if aged 16 or under, then simply sign up on the day, and you could be chosen to perform in front the festival crowd and a special judging panel for a chance to win a £50 gift voucher.

Hosted by Dr Chris Lloyd, this fantastic event is set to showcase the very best of our own, younger audience, with prizes given for best performer and best own work. Join us for our morning or afternoon session.

Saturday, 18 May

10.30-11.00 - Simon Mole: Riddles, Raps and Randomness

Experience the joy of poetry for all ages in this 30-minute show by acclaimed children’s poet Simon Mole. You’ll hear a story-rap about a boy obsessed with Pacman, join in with a raucous poem about Simon’s favourite beetle and find out how exactly many cats you would need to weigh the same as a brachiosaurus. You’ll also get involved with some fun, and quite silly, games and help fix the future with your word wizardry.

A National Poetry Day Ambassador, Simon has over ten years’ experience using rap and poetry in community and education settings. His tutorial videos on YouTube are used by hundreds of thousands of children and teachers across the world and have been featured on BBC Bitesize.

11.15-12.15 - Tomorrow and What Comes After: A reading with poet J.S. Watts

Join poet J.S. Watts as she weaves the fantastical with the literary in this glowing, multi-faceted reading of her poetry. There will also be a Q&A session after the reading.

Watts’ poetry, novels, short stories and non-fiction have appeared in numerous publications in the UK and around the world. Her works have been broadcast on the BBC and independent radio.

Her books include poetry collections, "Cats and Other Myths", "Years Ago You Coloured Me" and "Underword" and the multi-award nominated pamphlet "Songs of Steelyard Sue", all published by Lapwing Publications. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Arts.

12.30-15.00 – A Poetry Tribute to Gboyega Odubanjo

Collaborators and friends of the late Gboyega Odubanjo, a multi award-winning and much beloved poet, who was studying for his PhD in Creative Writing and working as a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire when he sadly passed away in August 2023, will come together to honour his life and work.

Host Dr Chris Lloyd will be joined by some of the most innovative names in the UK poetry scene to perform a selection of Gboyega’s poems alongside their own work. Joining the bill are:

Kareem Parkins-Brown

Kareem Parkins-Brown is a North West London poet, Barbican alumnus and winner of the Roundhouse Poetry Slam in 2019. Having collaborated with the likes of the Barbican and Tate Britain, he has also been shortlisted as the Young People's Laureate for London and for the Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship. His work deals with hood life, grief and surrealism.

Tice Cin

Tice Cin is an interdisciplinary artist from North London. She has been commissioned by organisations like Cartier and Montblanc. She was named one of Complex Magazine’s best music journalists of 2021 and 2022 and has written for places such as DJ Mag and Mixmag. Her novel "Keeping the House" has been named one of Guardian’s Best Books of 2021, awarded a Society of Authors Somerset Maugham Prize and has been featured in The Scotsman, The New York Times and the Washington Post. A filmmaker, through her company Neoprene Genie, she has just produced and directed her first music video. A DJ and music producer, she has recently completed writing her sophomore novel about music love and holding space.

Jake Wild-Hall

Poet and publisher Jake Wild Hall is one half of Bad Betty Press, the award-winning independent publisher of new poetry and curator of some of the most exciting live literature events taking place across the UK. Jake also founded open mic Boomerang Club in 2014 and indie press festival OOIPP in 2021. He is the author of pamphlets "Blank" and "Solomon’s World" and has performed on BBC Radio and at festivals and literary events across the UK and won the PBH 2016 Spirit Of The Free Fringe Award.

Keith Jarrett

Keith Jarrett is a poet, fiction writer and educator from London. His poetry addresses issues including identity, race and sexuality and takes its power from a sense of inquiry rather than polemic. He is a former UK Poetry Slam Champion and won the International Slam Championship at FLUPP in Rio in 2014. His play, "Safest Spot in Town", was performed at the Old Vic and on BBC Four in 2017 as part of the Queers series. His debut poetry pamphlet "I Speak Home" was published by Eyewear in 2015, followed by a full-length collection "Selah" in 2017. Jarrett was named as a Spread the Word LGBT Hero the same year.

Tife Kusoro

Nigerian-British writer and performer Tife Kusoro is a resident artist at Roundhouse. She was formerly a member of the Roundhouse Poetry Collective. Her poems have been published in the Poetry Review and Bath Magg and awarded in the National Poetry Competition. As a playwright and performer, she has worked with Talawa Theatre Company, The Bush theatre and the Royal Court Theatre. She is a Jerwood New Playwright at the Royal Court and a recipient of the George Devine Award.

Image credit: Christy Ku


Press Office +44 (0)1707 285 770