Two hundred and fifty years ago Middlesbrough-born James Cook sailed around the world on HMS Endeavour. It was an extraordinary voyage of scientific discovery, opening up the European imagination to undreamed of places and peoples under different stars – and opening up the Pacific to colonisation, genocide and environmental destruction.
With these contradictions in mind, in this anniversary year T-junction is celebrating Teesside’s long international history by focusing on the poetry of travel and discovery, departure and arrival, emigration and immigration, longing and belonging. Or as the Middlesbrough poet John Longden once wrote, it’s ‘Teesside twinned with the Universe’.
Previous T-junction festivals have brought to the North-east poets from Cuba, Zimbabwe, Macedonia, France, Estonia, Serbia, Latvia, Pakistan, Bosnia, Finland, Palestine and Syria.
This year’s festival line-up includes Lev Rubenstein (Russia), Chawki Abdelamir (Iraq), Justyna Bargielska (Poland), Harry Man, Keabonye Bareeng (Botswana), Kalle Niinikangas (Finland), Margaret Williams, Aurelia Lassaque (France), Peter Adegbie (Nigeria), Chris Stewart, Bejan Matur (Turkey), Zoila Forss (Peru), Judi Sutherland, Amarjit Chandan (Punjab), Abdulkareem Kasid (Iraq), Francis Combes (France), Jo Heather, Eric Motswasele (Botswana), Gerður Kristný (Iceland) and Paul Summers.
Events include an Urdu-Punjabi musha’ara, the launch of a book of poems by Teesside primary school children, debates, writing-workshops in local colleges, book launches, poetry master-classes, readings at Sunderland, Teesside and Durham universities, and Middlesbrough’s own legendary Electric Kook-Aid Cabaret.
T-junction is supported by the Arts Council, Middlesbrough Council, the Tees Valley Combined Authority, Teesside University, mima and Inpress and by poetry publishers Smokestack, Ek Zuban, Mudfog, Vane Women, Arc and Bloodaxe.