A Virtual Christmas Fireside:
Dorothy Wordsworth’s 251st Birthday

Celebrating the close of Dorothy’s 250th with new writing, discussion, music and poetry from award-winning writers and musicians.

Monday December 19th 2022, 8.00-9.00pm, GMT

This is the day when kindred meet
Round one accustomed social fire […]
Where faithful love through trying years has stood all proof.

Dorothy Wordsworth, ‘Christmas Day’, 5th January 1837

In 1793 Dorothy Wordsworth writes to her best friend Jane ‘Oh how I long for a Christmas fire-side, surrounded by a circle of my old Friends and companions.’

At this virtual fireside we bring Dorothy’s 250th to a close a week early with readings, discussion, and and music, ahead of her 251st birthday on Christmas Day itself.

We’ll hear poetry from Anthony Capildeo commissioned for DW250, poems written during a recent residency at Wordsworth Grasmere by Rommi Smith, and new thoughts about Dorothy Wordsworth, memory and caring, by Kerri Andrews, author of ground-breaking group biography of women walkers, Wanderers. We’ll also be treated to a special video of The Bookshop Band playing their new song inspired by Dorothy’s work commissioned for DW250.

About the artists:

Anthony (Vahni) Capildeo FRSL is Professor and Writer in Residence at the University of York. Their site-specific work includes responding to Launceston as the Causley Trust Poet in Residence (2022) and new projects on Scottish and Yorkshire built and natural environments. Recent publications include Like a Tree, Walking (Carcanet, 2021) (Poetry Book Society Choice) and A Happiness (Intergraphia, 2022). Capildeo is serving as a judge for the Jhalak Prize (2023).

Rommi Smith is an award-winning poet, playwright, theatre-maker, performer and librettist. A three-time BBC Writer-in-residence, she is the inaugural British Parliamentary Writer-in-Residence and inaugural 21st century Poet-in-Residence for Keats’ House, Hampstead. A Visiting Scholar at City University New York (CUNY), she has presented her research and writing at institutions including: THE SEGAL THEATRE, THE SCHOMBURG CENTER FOR RESEARCH IN BLACK CULTURE and CITY COLLEGE NEW YORK. Rommi’s performance at THE SCHWERNER WRITERS’ SERIES in New York was at the invitation of Tyehimba Jess, Pulitzer Prize winner for Poetry. Rommi is a Doctor of Philosophy in English and Theatre. Her academic writing was first published by NEW YORK UNIVERSITY PRESS as part of the groundbreaking book IMAGINING QUEER METHODS (2019). Her poetry is included in publications ranging from OUT OF BOUNDS (Bloodaxe) to MORE FIYA (Canongate). She is recipient of a HEDGEBROOK Fellowship (Cottage: Waterfall, 2014) and is a winner of THE NORTHERN WRITERS’ PRIZE for Poetry 2019 (chosen by the poet Don Paterson). She was recently awarded a prestigious CAVE CANEM fellowship in the US. Rommi was selected a SPHINX30 playwright; a prestigious programme of professional mentoring for – and by – contemporary women playwrights, led by legendary company, SPHINX THEATRE. Rommi is a contributor to BBC radio programmes including: FRONT ROW, THE VERB and the radio documentary INVISIBLE MAN: PARABLE FOR OUR TIMES?, marking 70 years since the publication of Ralph Ellison’s iconic novel. Rommi is the 2022 poet-in-residence for the WORDSWORTH TRUST, Grasmere.

Kerri Andrews is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at Edge Hill University. She has published widely on women’s writing, especially Romantic-era authors, and is the General Editor of Nan Shepherd’s letters. Kerri is also a keen hill-walker and a member of Mountaineering Scotland.

The Bookshop Band are Beth Porter and Ben Please. They write and perform songs inspired by books, inspired by hundreds of authors from Shakespeare to Philip Pullman, and have released 13 studio albums featuring many of the authors they have worked with. They have toured extensively around the UK and abroad, from bookshops to festival main-stages, and have been commissioned by BBC Radio 3, The V&A Museum, The National Portrait Gallery and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Hosted by Polly Atkin.

Held on zoom with captions by