01 – 21 Years of Ledbury Poetry Festival

Showcase and Celebration This event showcases poets at all stages of their development: John Masefield High School Students have worked with the school’s poet in residence Brenda Read-Brown to create their poems. The Foyle Young Poets Award for poets aged 11–17 is one of the largest and most prestigious literary prizes and past winners include Theophilus Kwek, Richard Osmond and Mary Anne Clark Read More …

04 – Sean Hughes Poetry and Stand-up

Sean Hughes is best known for being a team captain on the BBC’s hit quiz show Never Mind the Buzzcocks. He has toured up and down the country as well as abroad with his successful hilarious comedy stand up tours since then, along with a fortnightly podcast called Under The Radar where he has special guests from the world of comedy, sports Read More …

06. Bejan Matur and Jen Hadfield

Acclaimed Kurdish poet Bejan Matur presents a new chapbook of her poems, in English translation by T.S. Eliot Prize-winning poet Jen Hadfield. This was an electrifying hour of poetry in Kurdish, Turkish and English, by a pair of poets whose work explores the language of landscape and of home. Presented in partnership with The Poetry Translation Centre.         Read More …

07 – A.E. Stallings and Matthew Francis

An event celebrating poetry that uses rhyme and meter. A.E. Stallings is an American poet, a MacArthur Fellow, who studied Classics. She has published three collections of poetry, Archaic Smile, Hapax, and Olives, and a verse translation (in rhyming fourteeners!) of Lucretius, The Nature of Things. Her new translation of Hesiod’s Works & Days is Read More …

10 – Thomas Lynch and Tony Hoagland

Two American poets who share a wry, dark humour: Thomas Lynch, hailed by The New York Times as a cross between Garrison Keillor and William Butler Yeats, gives us glimpses of ordinary people and the ways they approach their own mortality. He lives in Milford, Michigan where he has been the funeral director since 1974, Read More …

12 – Ledbury Poetry Competition Winners

Hosted by Imtiaz Dharker, with guest appearance from previous winner Jacqueline Saphra. The prestigious Ledbury Poetry Competition has helped many emerging poets including Jacob Polley who won the 2016 T.S. Eliot Prize. ‘ Winning the Ledbury Poetry Competition in 2001 gave me a huge boost. I’d never won anything, and the confidence the win gave me pushed me forward, towards more poems, my first Read More …

14 – Romanian Women Poets

This event is curated by our poet in residence Fiona Sampson. She says, ‘Poetry opens a door on the world. Right now, Romania’s women poets are among the best writing anywhere. I love their work, which is extravagant, surreal, sexy and often socio-political too. They encourage us to take risks, and to feel beholden to nobody.’ Ana Blandiana is a legendary Read More …

21 – Mslexia – Meet the Poetry Editors

Mslexia is making an appearance at ‘the UK’s most popular poetry festival’. This time poets are invited to come along to our Meet the Poetry Editors event featuring an informal Q&A session with Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books), Amy Wack (Seren) and Luke Allen (Carcanet Press and PN Review). Come along to pitch your questions alongside host Mslexia Editor Debbie Taylor. Read More …

23 – Tabish Khair readings and conversation with David Punter

Born and educated in Gaya, a small town in Bihar, India, Tabish Khair is the author of various acclaimed books, including the poetry collections, Where Parallel Lines Meet and Man of Glass. In 2016, he published a study, The New Xenophobia and a new novel, Just Another Jihadi Jane to critical acclaim. Khair has won the All India Poetry Prize. He appears Read More …

26 – Rhyme and Reason with Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins is one of the most respected scientists in the world and from 1995 to 2008 was the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. His most recent books are his two-part autobiography An Appetite for Wonder and A Brief Candle in the Dark. The poems are read by Lalla Ward.         Read More …

27 – Choman Hardi, James Sheard and André Naffis-Sahely

Choman Hardi was born in Sulaimani, Kurdistan, and lived in Iraq and Iran before seeking asylum in the UK in 1993. Her collection Considering the Women explores the equivocal relationship between immigrants and their homeland and the plight of women in an aggressive patriarchal society and as survivors of political violence. The poems in James Sheard’s remarkable third book, The Abandoned Settlements, are Read More …

29 – Jacqueline Saphra – All My Mad Mothers

Poems and Music This specially devised performance combines musical ‘miniatures’ by composer Benjamin Tassie and readings from All My Mad Mothers, which explores love, sex and family relationships in vivacious, lush poems that span the decades and generations. Ledbury Poetry Competition winner Jacqueline Saphra’s poems are described by Naomi Shihab Nye as ‘gutsy transfusions of wondrously vivid characters, described with painterly richness’.   Read More …

32 – Poets’ Ways of Life

With Christopher Merrill, Maria Galina and Patrick Dubost. Hosted by Fiona Sampson Curated by poet in residence Fiona Sampson who says, ‘To work internationally is to understand that poets’ working lives differ according to their home culture. Here are three fine poets, all with international reputations of their own, who are also key culture-makers in their own national culture: the Russian-Ukrainian editor, critic and Read More …

33a – Part One – Elvis McGonagall

The first half of Event 33 is stand-up poet, armchair revolutionary and recumbent rocker, Elvis McGonagall. He is the sole resident of The Graceland Caravan Park. Laugh and cry over poems including Carry On Up The Brexit and 53 Quid A Week. The second half of the event is stand-up poet, Luke Wright. Contains strong language

33b – Part Two – Luke Wright

Having stolen the show from John Cooper Clarke in 2015, Luke Wright returns with The Toll Discover a country riven by inequality and corruption but sustained by a surreal, gallows humour. This is the second half of the evening – the first half featured Ledbury regular, Elvis McGonagall. Contains strong language    

36 – Tony Hoagland – The American Poetic Voice

What is most distinctive about the American contemporary poetic voice? It may be its democratic vernacular, its elasticity, its plainness of style, its life-giving vulgarity, its pragmatism, its materialism, its self-regard, or its humour. All of these features are embedded in that mysterious element we call Voice, that rhythmic undulating metabolism which transports and delivers whatever ‘information’ a poem contains. This talk uses examples Read More …

37 – Journeys With Seamus

The novelist Andrew O’Hagan travelled with Seamus Heaney, and their friend the great editor Karl Miller, to Scotland, Ireland and Wales, In this talk he describes those journeys traversing over language and language, in the footsteps of great poets. O’Hagan uses letters and journals to reconstruct the story, and begins, at the same time, to tell a personal tale of growing up Read More …

41 – Traitor or Translator

Why we must not untangle Pablo Neruda’s life from his work, nor the music from the poetry A seminar by Adam Feinstein As Neruda’s acclaimed biographer, Adam Feinstein, demonstrates in this seminar, the extraordinary life of the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet was so intimately interwoven with his work that it is impossible to untangle them. Feinstein illustrates with telling examples, including some Read More …

45 – Roy McFarlane and Deborah Alma

Roy McFarlane reads from his first collection Beginning With Your Last Breath which opens with a deeply moving account of the discovery of an adoption and moves through lost love and friendships, the politics of place, race and culture and the power of music. Deborah Alma shares poems from True Tales of the Countryside about sex, love and ageing in rural Shropshire and Read More …

52 – Desert Island Poems with Hugh Dennis

Hugh Dennis found fame with The Mary Whitehouse Experience and as an actor and comedian is known and loved for The Now Show, Outnumbered, Mock the Week and cult hit Fleabag among many other brilliant shows. He shares his favourite poems in conversation with Jill Abram. Local sponsors: John Goodwin and The Feathers Hotel.  

56 – John Hegley

Peace, Love and Potatoes One of the country’s most popular poets – eccentric and very funny – John Hegley returns to Ledbury! The reading (and singing) consists largely of poems from John Hegley’s latest book: Verses on Keats, Dickens, Daleks and digging into memory of childhood days. Sponsored by Stuart and Wendy Houghton and The Feathers Hotel     Read More …

57 – The Cause: The Struggle Goes On

‘The Cause’ was the Victorian name for what we now call feminism and was adopted by women’s movements as they fought for the vote. Jan Long takes you on an immersive journey exploring the political and passionate turmoil of the struggle for female emancipation, illuminated by the emotionally charged poetry of those who were involved, read by Sara-Jane Arbury. As Read More …

61 – Eric Gregory Poets

The Eric Gregory Awards consistently identify some of the best young poets including Sarah Howe, Andrew McMillan and many of the poets who headline the Festival. Listen to this year’s winners, Rachael Allen, Isabel Galleymore,  Daisy Lafarge, Richard O’Brien and Mark Pajak. The 6th winner, Richard Osmond, was unable to appear at this recording but did take part Read More …

62 – National Poetry Competition 2016 Winners

Hear poems read by the three winners of the the 2016 National Poetry Competition run by The Poetry Society. First prize winner Stephen Sexton lives in Belfast where he is studying at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry. His pamphlet, Oils was published by The Emma Press. Second prize winner Caleb Parkin is a freelance poet, performer, facilitator, educator and Read More …

63 – Irish Poets: Jane Clarke, Rita Ann Higgins and Louis de Paor

Three Irish poets all published by Bloodaxe. Jane Clarke’s first collection is The River. ‘Clear, direct, lovely: Jane Clarke’s voice slips into the Irish tradition with such ease, it is as though she had always been at the heart of it.’ (Anne Enright) Rita Ann Higgins has published ten books of poetry including most recently Tongulish. She is a hugely Read More …

65 – Denise Riley and Vahni Capildeo

Say Something Back, described by The Guardian as ‘heartfelt and deeply necessary’, will allow readers to see just why the name of Denise Riley has been held in such high regard by her fellow poets for so long. It includes a profoundly moving poem of grieving and loss, and poems contemplating the natural world and physical law. Vahni Capildeo’s Measure of Read More …

66 – Simon Armitage: The Unaccompanied

Following his celebrated adventures in drama, translation, travel writing and prose poetry, Simon Armitage’s eleventh collection of poems, The Unaccompanied, heralds a return to his trademark contemporary lyricism. The poems are set against a backdrop of economic recession and social division, where mass media, the mass market and globalisation have made alienation a commonplace experience and where the solitary imagination drifts and conjures. Insightful, Read More …

70 – Poetry and Mental Health with Melissa Lee-Houghton

Next Generation Poet Melissa Lee-Houghton has been affected by mental health issues. The themes this event explores include trauma/anguish, mental health and the therapeutic benefits of writing poetry.   Melissa reads a poem from Sunshine which is followed by a discussion with the audience and Ledbury Poetry Festival Director, Chloe Garner.      

71 – ‘I am black, I am black’

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Hope End and anti-slavery poetry In 1847 The Liberty Bell, a Boston Anti-slavery annual, published Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point, one of the most powerful, shocking poems in the long and distinguished tradition of anti-slavery verse. Elizabeth Barrett Browning came from a major slaveholding family—the large Barrett holdings in Jamaica paid for ‘Hope End’. Read More …

77 – Kayo Chingonyi and Miriam Nash

Voices of the Isle of Erraid echo through Miriam Nash’s first collection, All the Prayers in the House. The poems take the form of songs, letters, fragments, formal verse – many kinds of prayer perhaps, for many kinds of storm. The poems of Kayo Chingonyi’s Kumukanda range between worlds, ancestral and contemporary; between the living and the dead; between the gulf of Read More …

79 – Malika’s Poetry Kitchen

Malika’s Poetry Kitchen is a community of poets dedicated to developing their craft. Founded in 2001 and based in London, the collective’s influence on the contemporary poetry and spoken word scene has reached far beyond the capital. This is a unique opportunity to hear the work of two Kitchen founders, Malika Booker and Jacob Sam La Rose, plus Jill Abram, Read More …

82- Jacob Sam La Rose and Tara Bergin

Unfortunately Helen Mort, who was scheduled to appear at this event, was unavoidably delayed so Jacob Sam La Rose, one of the founding members of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen, stepped in at the last minute to fill the gap. Tara Bergin is from Dublin. Her first collection, This is Yarrow, won the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry Prize, while Read More …

83 – Translation Duel

Two poet-translators rattle their sabres and sharpen their swords for a duel of words and French poetry.  Join Sasha Dugdale who talks to Olivia McCannon and Susan Wicks to compare their translations of a contemporary French poet (shown below). A translation duel is a fascinating and illuminating way to engage with a brilliant new poem and learn more about the Read More …