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Keats House in Hampstead opens its doors for its annual summer festival, writes Rosy Moorhead
John Keats was one of the principal poets of the English Romantic movement and Keats House is a museum in his home in Hampstead dedicated to poetry. Its annual summer festival is a week of poetry readings, writing workshops, art and music.
On Friday, June 1 Introduction to the Life of John Keats explores the poet’s life through his poems and letters (2pm-3pm) and in the afternoon, Keats House Artist in Residence Cos Ahmet will be creating works inspired by a love letter from Keats to Fanny Brawne (1pm-5pm).
On Saturday, June 2, Extreme Happy Fair is a ‘spoken word fair’ of speech juggling, palm readings, poetry, lucky dips, song, live art, chit chat and clowning from literature company Renaissance One (6pm-9pm).
Sunday, June 3 starts with Imagine, a musical workshop for the family (11am-3pm) and the day rounds off with Poetry and Music, performances from travelling minstrels and London poets (5.30pm-7.30pm).
Bank Holiday Monday has a very special treat for the kiddies with King Arthur & the Sword in the Stone from the Cambridge Touring Theatre. The comical musical performance is from 3pm to 5pm with a workshop for five- to 10-year-olds from 1.30pm to 2.15pm.
On Bank Holiday Tuesday, be wowed by Dream Journeys: Guyana to Ghana, a synthesis of poetry, spoken word and music from a ‘poet of the flute’, a spoken word artist and a New York poet (6.30pm-8.30pm).
On Wednesday, June 6, Bunbury Banter Theatre Company presents Meg Merrilies, an audio-drama workshop in which you can create an audio version of a Keats poem (10.30am-1.30pm). Later, enjoy Klezmer Club, an eclectic mix of musicians who play wild and tender klezmer music and feisty, moving and humorous Yiddish songs (6.30pm-8pm).
On Thursday, June 7, SLAMbassadors UK and the Young Poets’ Network, the most prestigious and longest-running youth slam in the UK, will be hosting a workshop in which you will create free verse poetry (2pm-4pm) and some of these exciting new poets will be performing later on (7pm-9pm).
On Friday, June 8, don’t miss Les Beaux Poètes Sans Merci, a poetry evening hosted by Keats House’s poet in residence, John Hegley (7pm-9pm).
Saturday, June 9 features Sweet Beats for Keats, where you can meet and hear the poets included in the 2011 Keats Festival anthology (2pm-4pm).
On the final day of the festival Where is the romance in the urban landscape? is a creative writing workshop that endeavours to find the romantic elements of contemporary London life (11am-5pm), and there’s children’s workshop The Dragon featuring a 13-foot mechanical dragon called George (1pm-4pm).
John Hegley closes the festival in the evening with Happy is England!, a concert and readings which also features Jackie Kay and dancing by the Gay Gordons and Morris dancers (5.30pm-7.30pm).
The Keats House Summer Festival takes place at Keats House, Keats Grove, Hampstead from June 1-10. Details: 020 7332 3868, www.keatshouse.cityoflondon.gov.uk