I am very pleased to (belatedly) report that, despite the sad and untimely death of Josephine Hart in June this year, her wonderful Josephine Hart Poetry Hour lives on, with the help of her many prominent friends and supporters. The sold-out event, the first since her passing, was held at the British Library Conference Centre on 7th November 2011.
The poet under the spotlight this time was W. H. Auden; the host was dynamic broadcaster & author Melvyn Bragg; the readers were Harriet Walter and Julian Glover, both highly accomplished actors. Harriet Walter’s previous films include The Young Victoria, Atonement, and George Eliot: A Scandalous Life. Julian Glover’s work includes Game of Thrones, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.
Melvyn Bragg briefly spoke about Josephine Hart, and explained the new format for future poetry nights – there will be a new host every time, and each host will simply be a friend of the last, which opens up an exciting range of possibilities. Which of Melvyn Bragg’s friends will step up, I wonder? Whoever it is, they have big shoes to fill (black high heels, with fluffy little pom-poms on the toes, if I remember right). Josephine Hart had a passion for poetry, and put a lot of effort into these events, giving the audience a thorough introduction to the background and the writings of whichever poet she had chosen to put under the spotlight.
This evening was in two halves, lasting around 50 minutes in total, with applause half-way through, as well as at the end. In the past, audiences were asked to hold their applause until the end, much like at classical music concerts. Poems included Musee des Beaux Arts, As I Walked Out One Evening, The Unknown Citizen, Song of the Devil, Miss Gee, Love Feast, If I Could Tell You, and Funeral Blues.
Harriet Walter and Julian Glover – both of whom have appeared previously in the Josephine Hart Poetry Hour series – were flawless in their deliveries, and the crowd was largely free of distracting coughs and sneezes, meaning complete attention could be given to W. H. Auden’s verse. As usual, once the performance was complete, the actors simply stood, bowed, and departed the stage.
Keep an eye out here for the announcement of the next event, and remember to get in early for your ticket!
To read more about Josephine Hart, click here.