Write on Kew Review

Posted: 5th October 2015

Kew Literary Festival 2015

Earlier this year we featured an article on the up-coming Literary Festival, Write on Kew.  One of its organisers was a Lower V parent, Ms Burgess.  We now hear from Grace Lozinski, Upper V Alpha, who tells us of her experience attending the event.


‘From Friday 25th to Sunday 27th September, Kew Gardens launched its first-ever literary festival with over 80 events across all genres, from fiction to science, poetry to cookery. I was lucky enough to be able to book tickets for the event as they sold out pretty fast. The first talk I attended was about The Animals that Changed Us held by Virginia McKenna, actress, author and wildlife campaigner and Lauren St John, a well-known children’s author. The talk centred on the importance of wildlife conservation, and how both speakers felt that their lives have been shaped by animals. The tragic death of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe was also mentioned as a symbol to put an end to the killing of animals for sport. Both authors aim to raise awareness of cases like Cecil and to emphasise the importance of free wild animals through their books and films.


I also attended a talk hosted by Mel Giedroyc with guest author Rachel Johnson and John Mullan, Professor of English at University College London. The guests presented their favourite books under the headings, starter, main and pudding. The talk was highly entertaining and allowed me to gain further insight into the variety of books other people enjoy.


For me the highlight of my time at the festival was seeing Simon Armitage, poet and author and Oxford Professor of Poetry, in his talk which explored poetry’s literary value and the place of poetry in the world. Having studied his poems and prose in class, it was a dream come true to see him in the flesh! He discussed how there is always a place in people’s hearts and minds for poetry and how poetry is universal. Even though it is not a front line art form, it is something that people want and respond to. Simon Armitage also mentioned that for him, poetry became a passport for travel and every stamp in his passport has been to inspire people with his poems. When asked to give advice to aspiring, young writers, he said that you cannot be a writer unless you are a reader. It is essential to read. Simon said that to channel creativity you must find other writers whose voices you can absorb and then imitate. He also stated that he really found it extraordinary that students, even at degree level studying literature, are reluctant to read. He really emphasised the importance of reading if you want to achieve your goal in becoming a writer. At the end of the talk I was fortunate enough to attend his book signing. The talk really resonated with me personally as I really enjoy composing poetry in my spare time. Simon Armitage really inspired me to continue with my writing.


Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Kew, and I really hope that it becomes an annual event.  The setting of the talks also complemented their content. Kew Gardens provided a lovely scenic backdrop for the event in combination with the excellent weather.  I would highly commend the event and recommend anyone who is interested in literature to go along as it is a great opportunity to refine your knowledge of the English language and have great fun at the same time.’


Categories: Senior Sixth Form
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