Robert Crawford: Classical Texts

Monday, January 23, 2023 - 4:00pm
Robert Crawford
Stephen Harrison
Ioannou Centre, 66 St Giles, Oxford

Robert Crawford is a poet and biographer. His collections of poetry include The Scottish Ambassador (Cape, 2018); his biographies include Eliot After The Waste Land (Cape, 2022). You are warmly invited to an exhibition and book launch for his latest collection Classical Texts, hosted by Professor Stephen Harrison. 

Event Recording

Watch the recording on APGRD YouTube:

Links to YouTube recording of the Robert Crawford event







The Exhibition

This exhibition takes the culture of twenty-first-century texting, with its delight in tiny verbal messages, and fuses it with slivers of ancient Greek and Latin textuality -- stories of heroes, myths, and gods. The texts distil narratives down to an essence: usually a single word. They hint at how familiar and tenacious many Classical elements remain in a wide range of cultures.

Many ancient texts survive only as fragments. Sometimes, as with certain works by the poet Sappho, all that remains is a word. Yet, although the earliest concrete poems are Greek texts from around the fourth century BC, including some in the Greek Anthology attributed to Simias of Rhodes, a marked taste for one-word poems emerged only much more recently.

Often drawing on ‘concrete’ techniques, and on poetry latent within the individual word, the minimalist verbal icons here are provocations, resonant reminders, points of ignition. At its most megalomaniac, this collection of ‘instagraphs’ offers a public art project, each item suitable for projection onto buildings; more modestly, it gathers graffiti, marginalia, inscriptions, tattoos and texts, bringing them together in a form that can be shared electronically, doodled, or displayed in a gallery.

The Book

Classical Texts is also available in book form, so it can be slipped inside a pocket or given as a gift for sharing with young and old alike.