William Blake – mystic, illuminator, printer, poet. A genius who saw to the edge of the universe and the microcosm of atomic structure.

Blake’s world view was very different to that of those around him, or those who have since lived. Without schooling, he was apprenticed to an engraver and learnt skills that would fuse an extraordinary talent for poetry, painting and printing to create intricate books of transcendent beauty. These would become an inspiration to generations of poets, students and lay readers.

His exceptional, deceptively simple poetry follows the mystical traditions of Plato, Jesus, Rumi and St Francis. Within it there is a profound view of the universe, the intricacies and foibles of the human species and it’s relationship to God.

In this panel discussion, we bring together the poets Ian Duhig and John Siddique, academic Jason Whittaker and artist Michael Phillips to divine the mystic elements of Blake’s Poetry. Chaired by Ralph Dartford.

 

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Contributors

Ian Duhig

Former homelessness worker Ian Duhig’s seventh book ‘The Blind Roadmaker’ is a PBS Spring Recommendation. A Cholmondelely Award recipient and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Duhig is a joint winner of a Shirley Jackson Award for short stories, the only twice outright winner of the National Poetry Competition, and has three times been shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize.

Michael Phillips

Michael Phillips taught at Oxford, University College London and Edinburgh University before joining the interdisciplinary Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies at the University of York where he is now an Honorary Fellow. An acknowledged authority on Blake, Michael was also guest curator of the major exhibitions of Blake at Tate Britain, the Petit Palais and most recently, his acclaimed exhibition and catalogue for the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, William Blake Apprentice & Master. He has also trained as a printmaker in order to explore and replicate Blake’s graphic techniques used in producing the illuminated books.

John Siddique

John Siddique is the author of six books, the most recent of which is ‘Full Blood’. The ‘Spectator’ describes him as ‘a stellar British poet’ and the ‘Times of India’ calls him ‘rebellious by nature, pure at heart.’

Jason Whittaker

Professor Jason Whittaker is Head of the School of English and Journalism at the University of Lincoln. He has written and edited six books on Blake including Radical Blake (2002) and Blake 2.0 (2012), concentrating mainly on the reception of Blake by contemporary writers, artists and thinkers.

Ralph Dartford

Ralph Dartford hails from Basildon, Essex, and is the founder member of highly acclaimed spoken word collective, A Firm of Poets. Ralph has been published in The Guardian, Stirring Magazine (US), Pulp Faction, Exterminating Angel Press (US) and London Territories. His first collection, ‘Cigarettes, Beer and Love’, was published by Ossett Observer Presents in July 2013.