Born in Soho, William Blake delved into the bright and dark sides of London throughout his life. This special panel discussion brings together contemporary artists and poets to consider how Blake’s vision of London has inspired their own work, and how they imagine the city today.
Contributors include the poet Chris McCabe and artist Sophie Herxheimer, with the discussion chaired by the broadcaster, journalist and artist Bidisha.
Sophie Herxheimer has held many residencies, including for LIFT, The National Maritime Museum, Transport for London and The Museum of Liverpool. She works across media, with projects including her screen-printed 300-metre linen tablecloth for a public feast on Southwark Bridge and her collage portraits of poets for the Poetry Foundation in the USA. Her work has been shown at Tate Modern, in her local allotments and on a 48-metre hoarding along the sea front at Margate. Her poetry collection Velkom to Inklandt (Short Books, 2017) was an Observer Book of the Month and a Sunday Times Book of the Year. Her latest book is 60 Lovers to Make and Do (Henningham Family Press, 2019).
Chris McCabe’s work crosses artforms and genres including poetry, fiction, non-fiction, drama and visual art. He was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award in 2013 and his five collections of poetry include The Triumph of Cancer (2018), which is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. His first novel, Dedalus was published by Henningham Family Press in 2018 and was shortlisted for the 2019 Republic of Consciousness Prize. His non-fiction work includes an ongoing series of books documenting his search to discover a great forgotten poet in one of London's Magnificent Seven cemeteries and continues with The East Edge: Nightwalks with the Dead Poets of Tower Hamlets (2019). With Victoria Bean he is the co-editor of The New Concrete: Visual Poetry in the 21st Century (2015) and he is the editor of Poems from the Edge of Extinction: An Anthology of Poetry in Endangered Languages (2019). He works as the National Poetry Librarian.
Bidisha is a broadcaster, journalist and artist working mainly in film and photography. She covers and campaigns on social justice, global human rights and the arts for BBC TV and radio, Channel 4 News and Sky News and undertakes cultural diplomacy and political analysis tying these interests together, usually for the British Council. She is on the board of numerous arts organisations in the UK, including the Booker Prize Foundation and the Forward Arts Foundation. Away from work, she does outreach work with asylum seekers and refugees as well as women prisoners and ex-offenders. As a director and performer her first film An Impossible Poison premiered in Berlin in 2017. It has been hugely critically acclaimed and made the official selection of numerous film festivals internationally.