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Poet in the City Digesting History invites Sheffielders to 'one-off feast of poetry and film'

Take a seat at the digital dinner table on 25 February for an evening of immersive entertainment.


The last 12 months have seen social and cultural events totally reimagined for the digital world, and Sheffield’s artists and creatives have naturally risen to the challenge. From Museums Sheffield’s virtual tours and Andro & Eve’s drag king workshop to The Leadmill’s live streamed gigs and Doc/Fest’s series of weekenders, the online offerings have been a welcome silver lining during these difficult times.

As lockdown number three rolls on, we bring news of an upcoming collaboration between Sheffield Libraries, the British Library and Poet in the City, one of the UK’s leading poetry organisations. They’re coming together on Thursday 25 February from 8pm to host a digital dinner time event featuring a sumptuous menu of poetry, language and film.

Digesting History invites you to pull up a chair at the digital dining table from your own home, where recipes, riddles and brand new poetry will be shared by Rachel Bower, Kayo Chingonyi and Joe Kriss, inspired by their visit to the British Library’s 2018 exhibition Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War and their conversations with communities across Sheffield.

When the pandemic arrived on our shores, Sheffield Central Library had to cancel an Anglo-Saxon inspired immersive feast with live poetry. Instead, Sheffield Libraries found itself supporting local communities as a front-line service and branch libraries including Firth Park, which was at the heart of the project, became food bank outlets.

In response to this, the commissioned poetry has found a home in a new film inspired by Sheffield's incredible communities and the outstanding efforts of food banks across the city and directed by award-winning film-maker Eelyn Lee. The film will premiere at the event on the 25th.

The new film by Eelyn Lee will showcase collaborations with some of Sheffield’s finest artists, including songs from award-winning folk singer Rosie Hood, music by composer and sound designer Lee Affen and narration by writer and presenter Johny Pitts (Afropean). The event will be hosted by BBC Radio Sheffield’s Sile Sibanda and the first 300 Sheffield residents to sign up will receive a curated package of poems and recipes delivered to their doors from interactive arts company The Bare Project.

Ruby Baker, Senior Creative Producer for Poet in The City said of the event: “Digesting History celebrates the wonderful collaboration we’ve had with libraries across Sheffield. We’ve uncovered some incredible stories from the people we’ve encountered along the way and our poets have brought these voices to life in brand new poetry, created specifically for Sheffield."

Anglo-Saxon feasts were times when communities would come together to share food and riddles, so even though our dinner table is digital, we can’t wait to join audiences across Sheffield for a one-off feast of poetry and film.”

The event is free but anyone who would like to make a contribution to the event is invited to donate to Open Kitchen Social Club, a community programme that provides food and support for destitute asylum seekers, refugees, migrants and those in need.

In the lead up to the event, the project is running a call-out for recipes that make up the culinary heritage of Sheffield. A selection of these will be included in a community recipe booklet, published and distributed by Sheffield Libraries. Submit your recipes on the Digesting History event on Sheffield Libraries’ Facebook page or by emailing [email protected].

Book free tickets for Digesting History on Thursday 25 February.

by Felicity Jackson (she/her)
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