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Two centuries ago, John Keats, the great poetic patron of King’s, asked for the epitaph on his gravestone to say, ‘Here lies one whose words were writ in water’. His words did not flow into oblivion as he expected but have sparkled ever brighter for two centuries since.

Ruth Padel, Professor of Poetry at King’s until 2022, chaired a much-loved public events series, ‘Poetry And…’ which celebrated poetry’s power to connect with all areas of life and learning. She paired a leading poet and an expert in another field, a scientist, writer, artist or clinician, who spoke about their work - from human rights to history, neuroscience, wildlife filming, psychiatry or child refugees, with reference to poetry; while the poet read poems on that same subject. The resulting dialogue was illuminating for everyone.

Today in her inaugural lecture, which after the rifts created by Covid is also a valedictory lecture, Ruth Padel tackles Poetry And herself. She examines Water both as a theme in poetry, most protean of arts, in its shifting ripples and forms, but also asking how poets today can approach the crisis of nature in ways which honour poetry as well as the environment, and balance the darkness of climate crisis with the beauty of what is.

Please join us in celebrating Ruth's time at King's. The talk will be followed by a drinks reception.

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Professor Ruth Padel is an award-winning poet, author and novelist with close links to Greece, wildlife conservation and classical music.

Her most recent publication is Watershed, a pamphlet of poems on water and climate denial. She has lived extensively in Greece, has taught opera at Princeton, and Greek in Oxford and Cambridge. Her works on Greek tragedy, In and Out of the Mind and Whom Gods Destroy, are published by Princeton Press. Her twelve poetry collections include Beethoven Variations (“She tells the great composer’s life story more profoundly than most biographies”, New York Times), We Are All from Somewhere Else, a prose-and-poetry work on migration, and Darwin: A Life in Poems, on her great-great-grandfather Charles Darwin.

Her first novel, Where the Serpent Lives was on wildlife conservation in India. Her second, Daughters of the Labyrinth, shortlisted for the 2022 Runciman and Anglo Hellenic Prizes (‘Transporting, historically informative story-telling’, Sunday Times) tells the story of the Holocaust on Crete where she has life-long connections. Her non-fiction ranges from tiger conservation to the influence of Greek myth on rock music, and reading contemporary poetry. Her poems have appeared in New York Review of Books, London Review of Books, New Yorker, Times Literary Supplement, Harvard Review and elsewhere. She is Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Zoological Society of London, has served as Chair of Judges for the T. S. Eliot and Forward Poetry Prizes and as Judge for the National Poetry Competition, International Man Booker Prize, Wellcome Trust Science Book Prize, and Royal Society Aventis Prize for Science Books.

For more about Ruth head to her website.

At this event

Ruth Padel

Visiting Professor of Poetry

Event details

Bush House
Strand campus, 30 Aldwych, London, WC2B 4BG

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