Our beautiful Allen Ginsberg poster, by Chris Hopewell of Jacknife.

“The weight of the world
is love.
Under the burden
of solitude,
under the burden
of dissatisfaction

the weight,
the weight we carry
is love.”
from ‘Song – Poem’ by Allen Ginsberg

So, there’s a little under a fortnight to go until the Roundhouse in Camden plays host to International Poetry ReIncarnation, the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the International Poetry Incarnation which completely filled the Albert Hall with an audience eager to see and hear poets such as Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Ernst Jandl, Michael Horovitz, Pete Brown, Adrian Mitchell, Anselm Hollo and many more – an event which helped to kickstart the counterculture in Britain.

The International Poetry Incarnation was arguably the first major event to open Britain’s eyes to the idea that something more was possible from the arts in Britain, something other and wilder and more popular than the staid hegemony of the previous decades. Jeff Nuttall, author of Bomb Culture, said “the Underground was suddenly there on the surface”; and certainly, as a result of that night – which it is worth noting came together in a week – a hundred other nights were born. Countercultural activist and archivist Barry Miles described “a sense of constituency that was never there before…. All these people recognised each other and they all realised they were part of the same scene.” The Incarnation even presaged one of the greatest public expressions of the counterculture – flower power – by handing out flowers to every person who attended. The only weight that the audience carried away with them from the International Poetry Incarnation was love, and with the encouragement of Ginsberg and the counterculture, it spread like wildfire.

Something worth celebrating, then.

So, there’s little under a fortnight until we attempt to lift the roof off the Roundhouse (one of the venues where people met after the 1965 extravaganza to plan their own events) with an international array of poet/performers who were either part of the original event, or who have endeavoured to keep on reincarnating the potent, loving spirit of poetry in performance over the last fifty years. Over the next two weeks we will be introducing you to the performers taking part in this ReIncarnation; some of the finest voices, transcending cultural spectra and international borders, writing and performing today.

Hold on to your hats; this is going to be exciting!