Stellar line up at festival celebrating the written and spoken word

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  • Superstar poet Benjamin Zephaniah, T.S. Eliot Prize winner Sinead Morrissey and Patience Agbabi to perform
  • Three world premieres at four day festival, including the unveiling of the world’s first catalytic poem
  • Event organised by University of Sheffield Professor of Poetry Simon Armitage and Dr Joanna Gavins

World-leading writers and word artists will perform at the University of Sheffield at this year’s Lyric festival.

The celebration of the written and spoken word (from Wednesday May 14 to Saturday May 17 2014) features superstar poet Benjamin Zephaniah, T.S. Eliot Prize winner Sinead Morrissey and Patience Agbabi, reading from her contemporary ‘remix’ of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.Benjamin Zephaniah

The festival, now in its fourth year, is organised by Professor of Poetry Simon Armitage and Dr Joanna Gavins of the University of Sheffield’s School of English.

Emerging stars will get their moment in the spotlight on the opening day of the event at Mappin Hall (Wednesday 14 May) when Creative Writing Masters students at the University will share a selection of their newest and most exciting work.

They will be joined by Agnes Lehoczky, a Hungarian-born award-winning poet who teaches creative writing at the University, on a night marking the publication of her third poetry collection Carillonneur.

The event will also see the launch of CAST: The Poetry Business Book of New Contemporary Poets, edited by Simon, Joanna, Ann Sansom and Peter Sansom.

The second night (Thursday 15 May) involves another world-first – the unveiling of an air-cleansing poem, written by Simon using catalytic technology pioneered by the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Science Professor Tony Ryan.

Simon will read the new poem for the first time, while Professor Ryan will explain the technology behind the ground breaking collaboration.

On Friday 16 May, Sinead Morrissey, who was awarded the T.S. Eliot Prize in January for her collection Parallax, will perform, along with Patience Agbabi, whose poem The Doll’s House was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.

The evening will also include a performance by celebrated Sheffield singer-songwriter Nat Johnson, who will perform a retrospective of some of her finest work as well as a selection of her most recent songs.

The festival will be brought to a close on Saturday 17 May by writer, musician, broadcaster and activist Benjamin Zephaniah, a pioneer of the Dub Poetry movement in this country.

Simon said: “We're thrilled to present another year of Lyric, the University of Sheffield's festival of the written and spoken word.

Over a packed four days we host international dub poet superstar Benjamin Zephaniah, this year's T.S. Eliot Prize winner Sinead Morrissey and a chance to hear Patience Agbabi's reworking of the Canterbury Tales hot off the press, plus launches, word premieres, events showcasing the best of Sheffield writers and musicians and the unveiling of the world's very first catalytic poem.

For more information about the events and how to book tickets, visit

Additional information

The University of Sheffield

With almost 25,000 of the brightest students from around 120 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

In 2011 it was named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards and in the last decade has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline and Siemens, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

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