LEDBURY POETRY FESTIVAL 2018
Alexis Taylor, Benjamin Zephaniah, Michael Palin, Sabrina Mahfouz,
Chris Difford and Jackie Kay join international cast of poets and musicians for
the UK’s biggest and award-winning poetry festival
29 June – 8 July
Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip), poet Benjamin Zephaniah, comedian, broadcaster and writer
Michael Palin, poet and playwright Sabrina Mahfouz, Scottish Makar Jackie Kay, Chris
Difford (Squeeze), US poet Jericho Brown and comedian Miles Jupp are among the new
poets, musicians and poetry lovers from around the world announced for Ledbury Poetry
Festival 2018 (29 June – 8 July), as the full programme is released today Thursday 10 May.
Tickets go on sale to the general public on Saturday 19 May 2018.
Over 10 days this summer, with 80 events and over 150 performers, the UK’s biggest and
much-loved poetry festival will fill the streets and intimate venues of the historic market
town of Ledbury, near the Malvern Hills. Following record breaking audiences last year of
over 15,000 people, the festival returns with an extra feather in its cap, having won Best
Community Festival at the prestigious Visit Herefordshire Awards 2017.
The inspiring relationship between poetry and lyrics is a theme of this year’s festival, which
will bring Hot Chip lead singer Alexis Taylor and Scottish folk musician James Yorkston
together in conversation and performance; Saint Etienne’s Bob Stanley talks to poet John
Clegg about song writing and pop lyrics; founding member of Squeeze Chris Difford offers
a poetic take on life in and out of the band with poet Jill Abram and the frontman of indiefolk
band Stornoway, Brian Briggs performs his new collaborative work with poet Paul
Henry, The Glass Aisle.
The UK’s thriving poetry and spoken word scene will be celebrated wholeheartedly at this
year’s Ledbury Poetry Festival with readings and pairings of poets including T.S. Eliot Award
winner Hollie McNish and slam champion Vanessa Kisuule, and Sabrina Mahfouz and poet
Joelle Taylor performing together. Benjamin Zephaniah draws on his new autobiography
to share shares stories and poems from his remarkable life including his friendship with
Nelson Mandela. Jackie Kay joins 2018 Ledbury Poetry Festival poet in residence Zaffar
Kunial and US poet Major Jackson to read and discuss a new anthology of poems she has
co-edited, celebrating the life and activism of Martin Luther King. Much-loved poet Wendy
Cope reads from her new collection Anecdotal Evidence and Patrick Gale and Jackie Kay
showcase a new Refugee Tales anthology, retelling stories of asylum seekers who have
suffered at the hands of Britain’s policy of ‘indefinite detention’.
In a series of events with poetry lovers, Ledbury Poetry Festival 2018 features Michael Palin
reading the poetry of passionate and political poet Adrian Mitchell alongside Sasha Mitchell,
comedian Miles Jupp on his ‘Desert Island Poems’, actor Michael Pennington performing
the poems of William Blake and renowned academic Sarah Churchwell discussing the celebrity
and personal life of Sylvia Plath.
Ledbury has always been staunchly internationalist and 2018 is no exception, as this year
features a strong billing of US poetry stars including Major Jackson, Jericho Brown, Linda
Gregerson, Marie Howe and Mark Doty who appears as part of a day- long immersion in the
poetry of Wallace Stevens. Colombian poet George Mario Angel Quintero and translator
and editor Richard Gwynn take a whirlwind tour of South American poetry. Unshaken by
Brexit, Versopolis the innovative platform for emerging European poets returns backed by
funding from the EU Creative Europe Programme for four more years. Four European poets,
Kateryna Kalytko (Ukraine),Tomica Bajsic (Croatia), Michal Sobol (Poland) and Lou Raoul
(France) perform in their native languages alongside three UK poets Sandeep Parmar, Sasha
Dugdale and Welsh language poet Mererid Hopwood for the festival’s grande finale.
Poetry leaps off the page through a range of experimental, ritualistic and outdoor events. In
Cynhebrwng Aer / Air Burial audiences led by Nia Davies and Rhys Trimble are invited to
‘air bury’ any potentially problematic or volatile bodies of poetic work. In Rituals with Poetry
Wales, Nisha Ramayya invokes a tantric poetics, Elizabeth-Jane Burnett takes a
transformative wild swim and Rhys Trimble makes a multilingual dismemberment of the
text. Kyra Pollitt and Sue MacLaine take part in a British Sign Language Translation Duel,
translating signed poetry onto the page. Elsewhere poetic delights fill the Walled Garden and
a Poetry Paradise Garden reflects the community’s extensive outreach programme which
includes a partnership with charity Herefordshire MIND mental health charity. On the last
day of the festival the Ledbury Celebration takes over the high street offering a day of
poetry, music, entertainment and the best local food and drink.
A series of intensive workshops offer aspiring and burgeoning poets practical advice on
writing and editing poetry lead by poets ranging from the festival’s poet in residence Zaffar
Kunial, poet and translator Noèlia Díaz-Vicedo, Sinéad Morrissey, Linda Gregerson, Jo Bell
and Jane Commane. Sandeep Parmar, Telegraph poetry critic Tristram Fane Saunders, and
Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critics Dzifa Benson and Sarala Estruch discuss the role of the
poetry critic in relation to issues of diversity.
Chloe Garner, Ledbury Poetry Festival’s Artistic Director says ‘Ledbury Poetry Festival aims
to explore, unpick and illuminate the best contemporary poetry written in the world today,
as well as taking a fresh look at poets of the past, through a huge array of events including
readings, discussions, performances and workshops. Come and join the fun, we are looking
forward to welcoming you!’
Tickets for Ledbury Poetry Festival 2018 go on general sale on Saturday 19 May 2018 from
poetry-festival.co.uk and the Box Office on 01531 636232.
All artists are available for interview. For media enquiries about Ledbury Poetry Festival
please contact: Becky Fincham at Bigmouth Book Events & PR on
email@example.com / 07545 760590 or
Phillippa Slinger, Festival Manager on firstname.lastname@example.org / 01531 636232