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Old men, mad men, dead men

5:00pm-6:00pm on Sunday 17 March

Times shown are in GMT (UTC +0) up to the 26th March. For events on or after 27th March times are in BST (UTC +1).

SG1 (Alison Richard Building), Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, CB3 9DP

A talk and reading that centres on the work of three very different poets: the sixth-century Latin elegist Maximian, the cult Spanish poète maudit Leopoldo María Panero (1948-2014), and the contemporary memoirist Manuel Vilas (born 1962). What unites them is the way their work looks in uncompromising detail at how desire outruns performance, and the fragility that underlies even the most apparently macho statements.
The son of a famous and officially-celebrated Francoist poet, Panero spent his life in a state of rebellion, engaging with the counter-culture of the 1960s and giving it a specifically esoteric twist, actually living the world of occultism and paranoia (he was hospitalised several times in a number of psychiatric institutions) which most poets of the time only hinted at.
Manuel Vilas is most famous in Spain for his autofiction, notably the prize-winning Ordesa, which embodies and encapsulates small-town life in rural north-eastern Spain. His poetry builds on from this, giving us a picture of a frustrated, melodramatic man, desperate for wild experience in poems that range from Lourdes to Heaven via the drunken Atlantic coast of Spain.
In some ways Maximian is the most contemporary of the three writers: few details of his life are known, but he was writing at the edge and at the end of an empire, at a time when the Western Roman Empire was under Germanic control and power and loyalty was constantly shifting. Against this background he wrote the Elegies, the poems for which he is now remembered, which place the indignities of ageing in a wider and more despairing context, as everything that once seemed solid starts to melt away.

James Womack is a poet and translator, who teaches Spanish and study skills at Cambridge University. He is the author of three collections of poetry (a fourth, Why Are You Shouting? will be out in summer 2024), and the prize-winning translator of many poets from Spanish and Russian, including Vladimir Mayakovsky, Aleksandr Tvardovsky, Marianna Geide, Manuel Vilas, Leopoldo María Panero and Sofía Rhei.

Booking/Registration is: RECOMMENDED

Additional Information

Age: Adults, Young Adults 12 – 18
Format: Other
Timing: In person
Theme: Society
Accessibility: Full access

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