‘Glowing to receive a thousand guests’: launch of The Poetry Society’s Keats200 programme

On 20 January, The Poetry Society hosts a Zoom read-along of John Keats’ poem ‘The Eve of St Agnes’. Madeline and Porphyro, the star-crossed lovers of the poem’s tale, meet their fate during a wild party at a remote castle. As the story begins, the castle chambers are lit up – ‘glowing to receive a thousand guests’.

The Poetry Society is in a similar anticipatory state at the start of its Keats200 programme. Keats200 is the bicentenary celebration of Keats’s life, works and legacy. Partnering with Keats House in Hampstead, this series of events and activities to mark the anniversary of the young poet’s passing will begin with the Eve of St Agnes read-along, and carries on through the Spring.

Ruth Padel, Will Harris and Rachael Boast are currently putting the finishing touches to Keats200 commissions: new poems inspired by ‘Ode to a Nightingale’, ‘Hyperion’ and ‘When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be’ respectively. The resulting poems will be launching those towards the end of February, with glimpses beforehand on The Poetry Society website and social media platforms.

For younger audiences, The Poetry Society have devised some new classroom ideas and running a Keats-themed writing challenge on Young Poets Network. And as a fitting commemoration for a poet whose biography is so bound up with a passionate love story, there will be a suitably Romantic Valentine’s Day surprise. For more details of the programme as it unfolds, visit https://poetrysociety.org.uk/projects/keats200/

Keats200 is led by three major partners – Keats House, Hampstead, The Keats Foundation and the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association – and is open to all individuals and organisations who have an interest in Keats or poetry. The bicentenary of Keats’s most productive years as a poet, and the period when he found inspiration, friendship and love, is an exciting opportunity to (re)discover and enjoy his works as well as engage with poetry and its ongoing relevance to us all today. #keats200

13 January 2020