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Michael Horovitz chanting Tibetan Mantras with Allen Ginsberg at the London ICA in advance of the now iconic First International Poetry Incarnation in London’s Royal Albert Hall, 11 June 1965. Photo by Peter Whitehead, who captured the Royal Albert Hall event in a cinema verité film.
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New Departures

Sat 18 Jan 2020, 11am - 5pm

Join us for a day of performance, poetry, film and discussion exploring the influence of 19th- and 20th-century experimental music and literature on the works of David Hockney and Alan Davie, and the creative circles they moved in.

New Departures, from which the event takes its name, was a literary periodical founded by beat poet and jazz musician Michael Horovitz in 1959, and featured works by Alan Davie among contemporaries such as musician Samuel Beckett, William S. Burroughs, John Cage, Alan Ginsberg and Stevie Smith. He continued to edit it for 50 years, coordinating many ‘Live’ New Departures, Jazz Poetry SuperJams and Poetry Olympics festivals.

Taking place in our galleries and auditorium, the event will feature writers, poets, researchers, musicians and filmmakers whose works explore the influences of Hockney and Davie and continue the approach to collaboration and experimentation across the disciplines of art, poetry and composition platformed by New Departures.

The event will feature contributions from: Michael Horovitz, Vanessa Vie and the William Blake Klezmatrix Band, Polari Literary Salon, Yorkshire Sound Women Network, Centre for Audio-Visual Experimentation, University of Leeds School of Fine Art, Dr Kirsten Harris and Mark Hudson.

See below for programme details.

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11.00 – 11.30 Experimental Lines: Walt Whitman’s Cultural Afterlife

12.00 – 13.00 Alan Davie: An Excess of Energy, with filmmaker Q&A

14.00 – 14.30 Michael Horovitz: Reflections on a lifetime (at 84 not out) in the Arts

14.30 – 14.45 Break and book viewings

14.45 – 15.00 Michael Horovitz & Vanessa Vie

15.15 – 16.00 Polari Salon


10.30 – 11.00 C.A.V.E: Poetry

11.45 – 12.00 C.A.V.E: Music

12.30 – 12.45 C.A.V.E: Poetry

13.30 – 14.00 Yorkshire Sound Women Network: Ryoko Akama

14.00 – 14.30 CAVE: Music

14.45 – 15.00 CAVE: Music

16.00 – 17.00 William Blake Klezmatrix band


Michael Horovitz: Reflections on a lifetime (at 84 not out) in the Arts

Renowned Beat Poet and jazz musician Michael Horovitz gives a unique personal insight into the events, publications and spaces around which musicians, writers and artists, including Hockney and Davie, came together in the 1960’s to produce work with far reaching influence. Horovitz will make special reference to his friendships with both Hockney and Davie, open up a coversation with the audience and give a special performance as his own one-person-jazz-poetry band.

Horovitz was one of the featured artists in the landmark New Moon Carnival of Poetry in the Round that took place at the Hall in 1966, along with Allen Ginsberg and other leading poets of the age. Allen Ginsberg characterized him as a ‘Popular, experienced, experimental, New Jerusalem, Jazz Generation, Sensitive Bard.’

Horovitz, who has been described as the ‘last handshake to the Beat Poets’, is one of the country’s foremost troubadours, a revolutionary pioneer from the late 1950s onward, and an early champion of oral and jazz-poetry, whose flamboyant performances have energised audiences the world over.

William Blake Klezmatrix band

Experience a unique and dynamic blend of jazz improvisation, poetry readings and everything in-between from Horovitz’s William Blake Klezmatrix Band.

Featuring trombone player Annie Whitehead, pianist Pete Lemer and poet/visual artist Vanessa Vie and Horovitz himself, the band have played extensively at both independent and large scale venues including dates at London Jazz Festival and The Royal Albert Hall.

Photo: Karolina Webb

Polari Salon Presents - Paul Burston, Rosie Garland & VG Lee

Paul Burston, VG Lee and Rosie Garland. Founded by author Paul Burston, Polari began in 2007 in a bar in Soho as a live showcase for emerging and established LGBTQ+ writers, and has since been based at London’s Southbank Centre. Burston considers Polari as ‘a cabaret or variety show in which all the performers happen to be writers. It’s accessible, inclusive, diverse and theatrical. It’s not a dry, bookish event.’

The Polari Prize was established in 2019 and awards an overall Book of the Year. It is open to writers at any stage of their career, except debuts.

Journalist and author Paul Burston has published five novels and two short story collections, with his latest novel, The Closer I Get, nominated for the Booker Prize in 2019.

Tagged ‘literary hero’ by The Skinny, Rosie Garland writes long and short-form fiction, poetry and sings with post-punk band The March Violets. Rosie was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship in 2017.

VG Lee is the critically-acclaimed author of five novels and a collection of short stories. In 2014, Lee won the Ultimate Planet Award for Best Established Author. Her novel Mr Oliver’s Object of Desire was runner up for the YLVA Publishing Literary Prize for Fiction 2017.


Experimental Lines: Walt Whitman’s Cultural Afterlife

Explore Walt Whitman’s rich cultural legacy with Dr Kirsten Harris, Senior Teaching Fellow at The University of Warwick, focusing on the features of his poetry and persona that Davie and Hockney invoke in their innovative artistic practices.

Walt Whitman’s wildly unconventional debut, the 1855 version of Leaves of Grass, radically transformed the landscape of modern poetry in English, challenging expectations of what poetry should look like, sound like, and the subject matter that it should concern itself with. Slang, sex and an omnivorous spirituality saturated Whitman’s energetic new form of verse. An avowedly modern poet, his cultural influence from the nineteenth century to the present day has been profound. In art, literature, film, television, music, architecture and advertising, Whitman can be found in proliferating cultural expressions which use, sample, develop, rework or talk back to the American poet.

Michael Horovitz and Vanessa Vie

Michael Horovitz and his long term collaborator, poet, musican and artist Vanessa Vie give special performances for New Departures. Born in Spain, Vie has co-formed a number of bands, exhibited visual artwork and presented Happenings inspired by the work of poets including Dylan Thomas and Rumi. After meeting Horovitz in 2012, the duo presented renditions of their own poetry along with work by Lorca, Blake, Dickinson and others.

Vie’s debut volume of diverse poetic writings and visual art works, Open Windows, Open Doors is the first New Departures publication since 2007 and marks sixty years since Horovitz first launched the acclaimed experimental imprint.

Alan Davie: An Excess of Energy, with filmmaker Q&A

Filmed largely at Davies’s house near Hertford, the film includes unique and intimate footage from various phases of his life, from his heyday in 1960 to shortly before his death in 2014, Alan Davie: An Excess of Energy by Mark Hudson and Justin Krish provides a compelling portrait of this original and enigmatic artist, musician and poet.

Mark Hudson is a multi-award-winning author. His most recent book is Titian, the Last Days.

Justin Krish is a Bafta-winning film editor. His films include Bend It Like Beckham, Nanny McPhee and most recently Blinded by the Light.

YSWN Presents - Ryoko Akama

Yorkshire Sound Women Network (YSWN) was founded in 2015 by women working in sound and music in the arts and technology with the aim of using their skills and influence to address gender and racial inequality within the industry. They deliver high-quality public performances and community events, and facilitate meet ups for women, girls and non-binary people who share an interest in sound and music technology.

For New Departures, YSWN present a performance by Huddersfield-based artist and musician Ryoko Akama. Akama works with installations and sounds that magnify silence, time and space. She creates compositions and performs a diverse range alternative scores, often in collaboration with other artists and musicians.

Akama also co-curates ame and co-runs the independent publisher mumei publishing and melange edition. Photo: Filmlove 2018

Centre for Audio Visual Experimentation

Based at The University of Leeds School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, the Centre for Audio Visual Experimentation (C.A.V.E)  initiate and support projects with leading academics and practitioners across Yorkshire and nationally, aiming to become the foremost centre for investigations into the ‘audio-visual’ within contemporary art theory and practice. The experiments of C.A.V.E. are as much indebted to literature, science and the visual arts, as they are to experimental music and sound practices. Their previous commissions have included composer/performers David Toop and Juliet Fraser as well as the Turner Prize-winning artist Susan Philipsz.

For New Departures, C.A.V.E present poetry by University of Leeds students Lucy Cunningham and Ruby Lewis along with experimental music by Ed Cooper, Lotte Davis, Joe Connolly, Dave Riedstra and Kieran Blyth.

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