Sunday 4 July

Sunday 4 July 2021

Online events will be available for ticket holders to access for two weeks after they finish.

John Challis workshop: Appearances and Excavations  

10am – 12noon, Zoom, £20, Tickets here

For some, the weight of the past is felt the moment they leave their door. For others, it is most acute in the architecture of cities, or felt through our impact upon the land, or visible inside the home, symbolised by the objects collected or inherited. The past, whether good or bad, finds its way to everything. Even the form a poem takes, becomes a layering of histories. By looking at poems by Ken Smith, Claudia Emerson, Terrance Hayes, and James Dickey, among others, this workshop, for anyone, offers practical exercises to explore and harness tensions created when the past is resurrected within the present moment.

Ledbury Interactive Digital Poetry Pin Trail Ambling Workshops

Free, 11am, 1.30pm and 3pm, meet at the Market House.

Free Poetry Walking Writing Workshops with Chris Jelley to launch the live interactive poetry trail. Allow an hour, be prepared for a relaxed leisurely amble writing and pinning your words to place. The workshops are free and open to all, from families to seasoned poets. The trail uses geo-technology so participants require a mobile phone with location capacity. The workshops will be part writing, part pinning so bring your charged phone and a pencil full of words. Booking not required. is an interactive poetry trail in and around the heritage places of Ledbury. It is live and open, welcoming poems from authors of all skills to pin their words to locations across the town. Your words reflecting ‘our place in this space’ seem all the more pertinent this year after so many restrictions and so much personal isolation. So why not join Mr Jelley for a writing and pinning workshop during the Festival, ask at the Festival office or just add your words ‘on the fly’ by opening the web page above in the browser of your mobile phone.
Ledbury Poetry Pin is all about local words, connected to local places as to read and pin poems, you have to be in the town! You also must have a mobile phone with location enabled. For more information see, and

Eric Gregory Award Winners event: Kandace Siobhan Walker, Milena Williamson, Michael Askew, Cynthia Miller, Phoebe Walker, Gboyega Odubanjo

12noon – 1pm, Zoom, Free, Tickets here

This event is always a great opportunity to hear young talent, with all the passion, risk and excitement that brings. Former judge, Jackie Kay says, “These awards, I know from personal experience, are potentially life-changing. They bring writers in from the cold. They give writers a huge boost and validation. They tell them that their trials and tribulations have been worth it after all, after the long haul. Writing is a confidence game, and often writers’ confidence is shot to pieces. An award like this can put self-doubt in the cupboard for a while.”

Nikita Gill and Zoë Brigley, hosted by Chloe Garner

2pm – 3pm, Zoom, £5, Tickets here

Zoë Brigley (Thompson) grew up in Caerphilly in the Rhymney Valley of Wales, and is now an Assistant Professor at the Ohio State University in the US. Her three collections with Bloodaxe Books are The Secret, Conquest and most recently Hand & Skull. She also researches violence against women. ‘The poems in Zoë Brigley’s Hand & Skull are strange-making, unsettling, and thrilling in their originality. Here Brigley bravely confronts what it is to be a woman in a world that sees women as prey’ (Maggie Smith).

Nikita Gill is a British-Indian writer and poet living in the south of England. With a huge online following, her powerful and relatable poetry reaches new audiences. Her poetry collection, Wild Embers, features rewritten fairytale heroines, goddess wisdom, and is an explosion of femininity, empowerment, and personal growth.

John Challis and Seán Hewitt, hosted by Andrew McMillan
In partnership with The Poetry Book Society

4pm – 5pm, Zoom, £5, Tickets here

Tongues of Fire is a debut collection by Seán Hewitt, containing poems of a rare musicality and grace. Concerned with the matter of the world, its physicality, but also attuned to the proximity of each moment, each thing, to the spiritual. There is always the sense of fragility allied with strength, a violence harnessed and unleashed. ‘Wild, heartsore, ecstatic poems… Tongues of Fire is a beautiful book and Seán Hewitt is an extraordinary writer’ (Liz Berry).

John Challis’s debut, The Resurrectionists, journeys into a buried and sometimes violent landscape to locate the traces of ourselves that remain. Amidst the political disquiet rising from the groundwater, or the unearthing of the class divide at the gravesides of plague victims, the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest when a child is born, and something close to hope for the future is resurrected. ‘These poems throw a great arc of light out of the city’s storeyed past into the present, place, trades, family, vulnerable fatherhood…John Challis shines his words into the workings of the heart and of nature, with all their unpredictable transformations’ (Imtiaz Dharker).

Chen Chen and Luke Kennard, host Neil Astley

6pm -7pm, Zoom, £5, Tickets here

In his new collection, Luke Kennard recasts Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets as a series of anarchic prose poems. Set in the same joyless house party, Notes on the Sonnets riddles the Bard with the anxieties of the modern age, bringing Kennard’s affectionate critique to subjects as various as love, marriage, God, metaphysics and a sad horse. ‘As riddling and enjoyable as the old sonnets on which it riffs’ (The Telegraph).

Chen Chen was born in 1989 in Xiamen, China, and “grew up” in Massachusetts in the US. When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities is a ferocious and tender debut. Chen Chen investigates inherited forms of love and family – the strained relationship between a mother and son, the cost of necessary goodbyes – all from Asian American, immigrant and queer perspectives. ‘What unifies the brilliance of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities is a voice desperate to believe that within every one of life’s sadnesses there is also hope, meaning, and – if we are willing to laugh at ourselves – humor’ (Jericho Brown).

Neil Astley founded Bloodaxe Books in 1978. His books include many anthologies, most notably those in the Staying Alive series, most recently Staying Human (2020).

Fred D’Aguiar and André Naffis-Sahely, host Jackie Kay

8pm – 9pm, Zoom, £5, Tickets here

Letters to America is an ambitious collection from Guyanese-British poet, novelist and playwright Fred D’Aguiar. The twenty-two poems are full of lived tales and memories – of Britain, the Caribbean and the United States, where D’Aguiar is now Professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles. ‘Fred D’Aguiar has written ‘a canticle of water’, a book for the individual bowed, imperilled, under the wave of history – monarchical and imperial – and crying out for collective action to stop it from consuming further shores’ ( Ambit).

André Naffis-Sahely’s bracingly plain-spoken first collection, The Promised Land: Poems from Itinerant Life gathers portraits of promised lands and those who go in search of them: travellers, labourers, dreamers; the hopeful and the dispossessed. This is poetry as reportage, as much an act of memory as of sinuous, clear-eyed vision. As this arresting new poet has remarked elsewhere: “I don’t like poems that invent memories; I have enough of my own.” André Naffis-Sahely is from Abu Dhabi, but was born in Venice to an Iranian father and an Italian mother.

Jackie Kay is one of Britain’s best-known poets, whose collections include Fiere and Bantam and the Makar, National Poet of Scotland.

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