Writing Event

Previewing the Poetry on the Move Festival

POETRY ON THE MOVE is a festival of poetry, taking place in Canberra from the 14th to 21st of September. We asked Paul Munden, Festival Director, about this year’s program.

The theme for this year is ‘Border Crossings’. How has that manifested itself in the festival?
The theme emerged naturally. ‘Borders’ of all sorts are very much in the news, and poetry reflects that. We have an event at the National Portrait Gallery (Saturday the 16th), exploring issues of identity and migration. Another session considers cultural boundaries within Australia, led by poets who have done exceptional work with regional communities. And we’re fortunate to have a number of distinguished Japanese poets attending, so poetry in translation became another major focus, relating to the theme.

Glyn Maxwell

Vahni Capildeo

Who are the poets-in-residence this time around?
 Two wonderful poets, both from the UK. Vahni Capildeo won the prestigious Forward Prize last year for her collection Measures of Expatriation (yet another connection to the Boundary Crossings theme). And Glyn Maxwell, whose collections have also won major prizes, is particularly well known for his book On Poetry. Simon Armitage, one of last year’s guests has called it ‘the most compelling, original, charismatic and poetic guide to poetry that I can remember’.

What are some of the highlights of this year’s program?
On Sunday the 17th, we have a session (also at the NPG) on ekphrastic poetry, looking at poems that derive from works of visual art (another boundary crossing). On Tuesday the 19th we’re privileged to have three of Australia’s leading poets giving a reading: Judith Beveridge, Stephen Edgar, and Sarah Holland-Batt – editor of this year’s anthology of The Best Australian Poems.


What are you personally looking forward to seeing?
Everything – every day! – though the workshops are sold out, so I won’t get a look in. I’ll be intrigued to hear from the panel of poetry editors, on Monday the 18th; also sitting back and enjoying the Recent Press Work readings straight afterwards. Recent Work Press, based at UC, is a major new force in poetry publishing.

Poetry on the Move is in its third year. How has the festival developed over that time?
We now do more off campus. This year we have events at Gorman Arts Centre, Smiths Alternative, and Belconnen Arts Centre, as well as the National Portrait Gallery, as already mentioned. We’re pleased to have increased both the level of ‘entertainment’ and the underpinning creative research. Each year, we’ve added a new poetry prize to the University of Canberra portfolio. Last year it was the Health Poetry Prize; this year it’s the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Poetry Prize, and we’re delighted to have a special guest to make the announcement: Steven Oliver, well known to many as writer/producer of ABC’s hit sketch show, Black Comedy.

Poetry on the Move is organised by the International Poetry Studies Institute based in the Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra. Some of the 24 festival events are now fully booked, but free places are still available for most, including the full-day poetry symposium on Wednesday the 20th. All events are free but booking is essential, via Eventbrite.

Find out more about the festival HERE.

The festival is supported by: Australian Poetry; Embassy of Japan in Australia; Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres; Belconnen Arts Centre; National Portrait Gallery.

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