As the centenary of the Battle of the Somme draws near, Writers’ Centre Norwich, 14-18 NOW and Norfolk & Norwich Festival have co-commissioned a major new piece of work from internationally renowned poets and visual artists, to commemorate and respond to this devastating event. The work will open Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2016 and brings together poets and film makers to create Fierce Light.

‘Hide in this battered crumbling line

Hide in these rude promiscuous graves,

Till one shall make our story shine

In the fierce light it craves.’

‘The Fierce Light’

Major John Ebenezer Stewart, M.C.

Fierce Light

Friday 13 May, 7.30pm

Norwich Playhouse

This world-premier and major national commission by Writers’ Centre Norwich and the Imperial War Museum, kicks off the City of Literature programme at Norfolk & Norwich Festival.

Perhaps no art form captured the complexity and terror of the First World War more acutely than poetry. As we approach 100 years since the Battle of the Somme, Fierce Light brings together outstanding international poets and visual artists to explore the war and its legacy in the 21st century. Join Simon Armitage, Daljit Nagra and others for a live audio-visual experience which premiers their new poetry alongside work by Bill Manhire, Jackie Kay and Paul Muldoon and a series of specially commissioned short films.

Co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW, Norfolk & Norwich Festival and Writers’ Centre Norwich.

Fierce Light exhibition

10-13 May Tuesday – Saturday midday-5pm

14-28 May Tuesday – Saturday midday-7pm

East Gallery, NUA

As part of the word premier of Fierce Light, this exhibition features specially commissioned poetry and short films reflecting on the Battle of the Somme. The exhibition encompasses the commissioned project Still which features six poems produced by internationally renowned poet Simon Armitage in response to aerial photographs of WWI battlefields.

Hear the poems performed in person at the Fierce Light audio-visual event at Norwich Playhouse on Friday 13 May.

Co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW, Norfolk & Norwich Festival and Writers’ Centre Norwich.

Simon Armitage was born in West Yorkshire and is Professor of Poetry at the University of Sheffield. He has published ten collections of poetry, is the author of two novels as well as the best-selling memoir, All Points North. In 2010 he received the CBE for his services to poetry.

Daljit Nagra was born and raised in West London, then Sheffield. He currently lives in Harrow with his wife and daughters and works in a secondary school. His first collection, Look We Have Coming to Dover!, won the 2007 Forward Prize for Best First Collection and was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award. In 2008 he won the South Bank Show/Arts Council Decibel Award. Tippoo Sultan’s Incredible White-Man-Eating Tiger Toy-Machine!!! was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize 2011.

Bill Manhire (b 1946) grew up in small country pubs at the bottom of New Zealand’s South Island. He was educated at the University of Otago and at University College London, where he almost became an Old Norse scholar. For many years he taught at Victoria University, where he founded the International Institute of Modern Letters, home to New Zealand’s leading creative writing program. Bill was New Zealand’s inaugural Poet Laureate. His most recent collections are the prize-winning Lifted, The Victims of Lightning, and a Selected Poems. He has also published short fiction, most of which was recently collected in The Stories of Bill Manhire (VUP, 2015).


Jackie Kay was born and brought up in Scotland. She has published five collections of poetry for adults (The Adoption Papers won the Forward Prize, a Saltire Award and a Scottish Arts Council Book Award) and several for children. She was awarded an MBE in 2006.

Paul Muldoon is one of Ireland’s leading contemporary poets, along with being a professor of poetry, an editor, critic and translator.

The author of twelve major collections of poetry, he has also published innumerable smaller collections, works of criticism, opera libretti, books for children, song lyrics and radio and television drama. His poetry has been translated into twenty languages and has won numerous awards.

Muldoon served as Professor of Poetry at Oxford University from 1999 to 2004. He has taught at Princeton University since 1987 and currently occupies the Howard G.B. Clark ’21 chair in the Humanities. He has been poetry editor of The New Yorker since 2007.


Yrsa Daley-Ward is a writer and poet of mixed West Indian and West African heritage. Born to a Jamaican mother and a Nigerian father, Yrsa was raised by her devout Seventh Day Adventist grandparents in the small town of Chorley in the North of England. Her first collection of stories On Snakes and Other Stories was published by 3:AM Press.