Clare Pollard’s Ovid’s Heroines

The York Literature Festival began in 2007, bringing a range of diverse acts that encompassed everything and anything literature-related, including poetic performances, theatre and comedy to different venues within York. One of the latest events that took place in this year’s Festival was Clare Pollard’s Ovid’s Heroines. Clare is a poet and playwright with numerous books published.

By Kate McHugh

Photo by Richard Henson



On Monday, she took to York St John University to perform a free verse translation of Ovid’s Heroines. Her poems were a modern interpretation of Ovid’s, in which she clashed the old and new to depict the anguish of the often forgotten women from Greek and Roman myths. This included women such as Hercules’ wife and Ariadne from the legend of the Minotaur.


A haunting stage had been set up for Clare: long sheets hanging like billowing ghosts from the beams above, dim lighting and melodic music. The setting showed the contrast of the old and new. This was continued throughout with a clash of Clare’s captivating voice, using both lyrical and rhythmic verses and contemporary slang insults to portray the bitterness and longing of each character, who Clare switched between easily. Each voice she took on was easily believable.


Thankfully, for those of us not up-to-date with all Greek mythology, Clare broke up the recital and readings to give a basic rundown of the context of each performance, making the event more accessible for everyone. There were also brief moments of music that filled the intimate hall, which included the sultry tones of Lana Del Rey and Amy Winehouse, drawing the crowd back into the present and away from the often dark, visceral images of the poems.


Clare managed to make something from over 2,000 years ago relatable with her re-imagining of Ovid’s Heroines. Even if you’re not a massive fan of poetry, watching Clare perform is definitely a worthwhile, alternative night out.

Clare Pollard performed Ovid’s Heroines at York St. John University as part of York Literature Festival on Monday 23rd March 2015.