PJ HARVEY is renowned as a brilliant singer, songwriter and musician – but she arrives in the region this week to show her talent as a poet.
Following her successful appearances at Hay Festival and Edinburgh International Book Festival, PJ starts a UK-wide spoken word tour at The Fire Station, in Sunderland, on Thursday, October 27.
Her first long poem Orlam is a remarkable coming-of-age tale and one of only a few full-length books written in the Dorset dialect.
Orlam tells the story of nine-year-old girl, Ira-Abel Rawles, who lives on a farm in the village of Underwhelem. Next to the farm is a wood, Ira’s sanctuary, where through West Country traditional rituals, children’s songs, chants and superstitions she makes sense of an increasingly confusing world.
PJ’s book of poetry follows Ira and the inhabitants of Underwhelem through the last year of Ira’s childhood innocence. The result is a work of beauty, infused with hints of violence, sexual confusion, the oppression of family, but also moments of great joy through song and bawdy humour.
Tamsin Austin, venue director of The Fire Station, said: “We’re thrilled to be hosting the first night of PJ’s spoken word tour and to be welcoming such a fiercely talented, revered and much-loved artist into The Fire Station.
“Orlam reveals PJ not only as one of the UK’s pre-eminent songwriters of her generation, but as a gifted poet and spoken-word artist.
“We’ve had a great response to the announcement of PJ’s show and we urge people to get their tickets before they’re all gone.”
During her show, PJ will be in conversation with English poet Sean O’Brien, a central figure in the contemporary world of poetry. His 11th collection of poems, Embark, will be published in November. Sean has already won many major prizes for his poetry, including the Cholmondeley
Award, the Somerset Maugham award, the E.M. Forster Award and, twice, the Forward Prize for Best Collection.
PJ began her musical career in 1988 when she joined Automatic Dlamini as a vocalist, guitarist and saxophonist.
The band’s frontman, John Parish, became her long-term collaborator. In 1991, she formed an eponymous trio called PJ Harvey and subsequently began her career as PJ Harvey. The trio released two studio albums called Dry (1992) and Rid of Me (1993) before disbanding.
She continued as a solo artist and since 1995 has release nine more albums with collaborations with musicians including Mick Harvey and Eric Drew Feldman, while also working exclusively with record producer Flood.
Among the many accolades she has received are both the 2001 and 2011 Mercury Prizes for Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea and Let England Shake, respectively. She remains the only artist to have been awarded the prize twice.
She also has eight Brit Award nominations to her name, seven Grammy Award nominations and two further Mercury Prize nominations.
She is also an occasional artist and actress – and an accomplished sculptor.
For tickets for Orlam, go to www.thefirestation.org.uk
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