6. Juliet Stevenson reads Emily Dickinson

Juliet Stevenson reads from Emily Dickinson’s poems, intercut with the story of Dickinson’s Life, narrated by Mark Fisher. Emily Dickinson became a recluse, seldom leaving her parents’ home.  She wrote more than 1700 poems although only a handful were ever published in her lifetime. But since her death she has been seen as one of…

George Wallace

7. Larry Beckett and George Wallace

Two very different American poets, both inspired by the Beats. ‘Long Islander George Wallace’s poems explode on the page…But, for all their muscular gestures, these poems also convey sensitivity and irony’ (Robert Peake, Huffington Post). Writer in residence at the Walt Whitman Birthplace and, according to Naomi Shihab-Nye ‘a riveting, highly original presenter, he embodies…

12. Maya Angelou Tribute

Many poets appearing at the Festival (including Don Paterson, Larry Beckett and George Wallace) join us to read and celebrate the words and life of the phenomenal Maya Angelou. Hosted by Ursula Owen, a Founder Director of Virago Press, who introduced Maya Angelou’s stunning autobiographies to the UK. ‘My life has been long,’ Maya Angelou…

16. Paul Henry and Merion Jordan: Readings and conversation

with Ursula Owen Paul Henry’s The Brittle Sea: New & Selected Poems was recently reprinted by Seren. Henry was Herefordshire’s first Poet in Residence and has presented arts programmes for BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4. He will read from his new book, Boy Running. Merion Jordan stood in at short notice for Don Paterson…

17. 1915: The Growing Shadow

Within a year of the War being seen as heroic and romantic, the death toll and the horror of trench warfare was reflected in the poetry being written by Charles Sorley, Roland Leighton (both of whom died that year), Robert Graves, Seigfried Sassoon and Ivor Gurney. Michael Pennington will trace this growing shadow which led…

19. Don Paterson and Maddy Paxman on Michael Donaghy

Don Paterson’s 50 Ways to Read a Poet: The reader’s guide to the poetry of Michael Donaghy is the first substantial critical work to be written on one of the UK’s best-loved poets, who died tragically early at the age of fifty in 2004. Through a combination of readings and conversation Paterson and Michael’s widow…

20. Poetry as Protest

From Shelley to Pussy Riot, poets and songwriters have a long tradition of challenging the status quo, resisting tyranny and giving voice to the oppressed. In China, Cameroon and Qatar, poets still face imprisonment for questioning authority. In the UK, a new generation of spoken word performers are giving new energy to political engagement. Poets…

22. Versopolis: A Celebration of Emerging European Poets

Versopolis is a platform that unites 11 European Festivals to promote and translate their most exciting new poets. Maria Ferencuhova (Slovakia), Gjoko Zdraveski (Macedonia), Maud Vanhauwaert (Belgium), Aivaras Veiknys (Lithuania) and Ida Linde (Sweden) will share the stage with four of the UK poets: Meirion Jordan, Liz Berry, Adam Horovitz and Eleanor Rees. These are…

26. Spiritualised Landscapes in American Poetry

This seminar is led by Dr David Arnold, Senior Lecturer in English Literary Studies at the University of Worcester and an expert in Literature and Spirituality. It is an opportunity to explore and discuss the concept of spiritualised landscapes in American poetry, looking at examples from different poetic traditions – Anglo-American, African American and Native…

George Wallace

28. Walt Whitman and Beyond by George Wallace

This talk emerged out of three years spent as writer in residence at the Walt Whitman Birthplace. Poet George Wallace will read selected works by Walt Whitman and others that celebrate how the emerging 18/19th century notion of the individual has remained a fundamental literary theme for contemporary writers.

29. Pavilion Poets

Mona Arshi, Sarah Corbett and Eleanor Rees Exploring altered states, inner worlds, reimagined cities and subterranean lands, Pavilion Poetry, imprint of Liverpool University Press, is launched with collections by three poets whose poetry sounds the depths of story, language, territory and selfhood. At the centre of Mona Arshi’s debut collection, Small Hands, which was joint…

31. W.B. Yeats and Belief

Continuing the Festival theme exploring Poetry and Belief, Dr Whitney Standlee will offer a participatory talk on W.B. Yeats and belief. Standlee is an expert on Irish Writing, has taught Yeats to undergraduates and is author of Power to Observe: The Novels of Irish Women in Britain, 1890-1916. She lectures in English Literature and Cultural…

33. National Poetry Competition Winners

National Poetry Competition judge Roddy Lumsden, first prize winner Roger Philip Dennis and third place winner Fran Lock read some of the winning poems. Join the conversation on the judging process, the value of prizes in poetry and more generally on navigating the ‘poetry scene’.

34. Poetry and Belief with Rowan Williams and Marina Warner

Rowan Williams was the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury and is now Master of Magdalene College at Cambridge University. His collections include The Poems of Rowan Williams and most recently The Other Mountain. Marina Warner is a renowned writer and academic, whose most recent book is Once Upon A Time – A Short History of Fairy…

38. James Booth on Philip Larkin

Memorable poems with lines such as ‘What will survive of us is love’ ensure Philip Larkin’s popularity. However the reputation of the man has suffered some hard knocks. When, in 1992, the Selected Letters laid bare his compartmentalised personal life, he was accused of duplicity, faithlessness, racism and misogyny. But were art and life really…

39. Trapdoors in the Grass with Allan Ahlberg

Allan Ahlberg will explore the notion of children’s poems for adults. He has written over 150 books and his best-known are collaborations with his late wife, the illustrator Janet Ahlberg, including Each Peach Pear Plum, Cops and Robbers and Peepo! He also recently published The Bucket: Memories of an Inattentive Childhood. Sponsor David and Ann…

40. Poetry and Cider

with Ruth Stacey, Lesley Ingram and Sarah James Three poets based in the West Midlands celebrate the launch of their new collections. Ruth Stacey’s Queen, Jewel, Mistress gives voice to every English/British queen from Anglo-Saxon times to Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. Lesley Ingram’s Scumbled is ‘A haunting collection (which) explores the brackishness of human relations, the kinship…

46. Desert Island Poems with Shirley Williams

Shirley Williams shares her ‘desert island poems’ with Ursula Owen. The Lib-Dem grandee reflects on a life in politics, her memories of her mother Vera Brittain whose celebrated memoir, Testament of Youth, is now a film, and the poems that have helped her and inspired her along the way.

49. John Burnside’s Desert Island Poems

Festival poet in residence John Burnside tells Mark Fisher about his essential poems. Burnside is the author of eleven collections of poetry and five works of fiction and teaches Creative Writing, Literature and Ecology courses at the University of St Andrews. Latest works include All in One Breath and I Put a Spell on You….

55. The Raving Beauties Present: Hallelujah for 50ft Women

‘A provocative experience of wildly diverse poetry, anecdotes and bad puppetry.’ Raving Beauties Sue Jones-Davies, Fan Viner and Dee Orr’s first rate individual and collective track records include In The Pink, a cabaret of songs and poetry which opened in a pub, sold out at Edinburgh and featured on Channel 4’s opening night. Their performed…

57. ‘This land lives and its dead cannot die’: Steve Ely’s Englaland

Steve Ely’s collections Oswald’s Book of Hours (2013) and Englaland (2015) cut unique trajectories into concepts of England and the English, presenting an unapologetic and paradoxical affirmation of a bloody, bloody-minded and bloody brilliant people. Danish huscarls, pit-village bird-nesters, ageing prize-fighters, flying pickets, Falklands war heroes and jihadi suicide-bombers  parade through the books. In this performance,…

65. Personae and Place: a performance by Matthew Clegg and Chris Jones

with music by Emma Bolland Act One A performance of poems from Matthew Clegg’s sequence ‘Chinese Lanterns’ (in his collection West North East) weaving voices from North Sheffield and the Far East. Spare musical phrases by violinist Emma Bolland nuance the ceremonial aspects. Act Two Chris Jones’ sequence ‘Jigs and Reels’ harnesses the energy of…

70. Tadeusz Dabrowski and Antonia Lloyd-Jones

A lively conversation between acclaimed Polish poet Tadeusz Dabrowski, whose Black Square is his first collection published in English, and his translator Antonia Lloyd-Jones. It will shed light on both the writing and translating process and the fascinating relationship between the two. Recently published in The New Yorker, ‘Tadeusz D?browski is writing his self-portrait of…

71. World Poetry for Children

What do children in other countries learn by heart? What poems do they treasure? What’s the Russian name for Winnie-the Pooh? Why was a crocodile the cause of a major literary scandal in Soviet Russia? To find out the answers to these questions and much more besides, join Modern Poetry in Translation magazine for a…

75. Ko Un and Brother Anthony

Andrew Motion, in his introduction to First Person Sorrowful, calls Ko Un ‘a major poet, who has absolutely compelling things to say about the entire history of South Korea, and equally engrossing things to say about his own exceptionally interesting life and sensibility’. Ko Un lived through the Korean War, was a Buddhist monk and…

Menu