Launch of Ledbury Poetry Festival Programme

PRESS RELEASE 25th April 2024

LEDBURY POETRY FESTIVAL PROGRAMME IS REVEALED

Award-winning poets Fleur Adcock, Liz Berry, Imtiaz Dharker, Jackie Kay, Zaffar Kunial, Paul Muldoon and AE Stallings join Poet Laureate Simon Armitage headlining this year’s festival, which runs 28 June – 7 July 2024.

Award-winning poets, international voices, family favourites, workshops, rounded-off with music and performance.  Live and online, everyone is welcome to create and celebrate this summer.

The full programme is available now at ledburypoetry.org.uk

Award-Winning Poets

Ledbury Poetry Festival is delighted to announce Paul Muldoon as Poet in Residence

We’re excited to announce Paul Muldoon, Professor of Poetry at Princeton University and Poetry Editor at The New Yorker, as Poet in Residence at the Festival. As well as mainstage readings and conversations on the publication of his new collection Joy in Service on Rue Tagore (faber), Paul will be running a series of small group workshops.

Jackie Kay, former Makar of Scotland, will open the Festival with a reading from her new collection May Day (Picador) casting an eye of several decades of political activism.

A.E. Stallings, Oxford Professor of Poetry, combines classical allusion and form with contemporary themes and wit. She will read from her work including This Afterlife (Carcanet) and talk with The Telegraph Poetry Editor, Tristram Fane Saunders.

Liz Berry, winner of the 2024 Writer’s Prize for Home Child (Vintage), a novel in verse inspired by the story of her great aunt sent to Canada to work as indentured servants, gives a performance accompanied on fiddle by Ruth Angell.

Imtiaz Dharker, winner of the Queen’s Medal for Poetry presents her new collection Shadow Reader (Bloodaxe Books) with artist Clae Eastgate and will also share an “in conversation” event with Paul Muldoon.

Fleur Adcock, winner of the Queen’s Medal for Poetry, celebrated her 90th birthday with the publication of her Collected Poems (Bloodaxe Books). Her poised and ironic poems are known for their dry wit.

Zaffar Kunial’s debut collection Us (faber) was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. His latest collection England’s Green (faber) won the Ledbury Hellens Poetry Prize in 2023.

And to round off the Festival, Simon Armitage, the Poet Laureate, gives a reading from Blossomise (faber), celebrating and lamenting the fizz and froth of the annual arrival of spring and this nervous marker of our vulnerable climate.

Guest Curators

Ledbury Poetry Festival welcomes two Guest Curators who have each programmed events across one weekend of the Festival. For 2024 they are Stephanie Sy-Quia and Will Harris who are Ledbury Poetry Critics. For further information on Ledbury Poetry Critics scheme please see notes to editors below.

Stephanie’s programme includes commissioning poetry alongside other arts and activities including dance, wine-tasting and folklore by way of flower arranging alongside poetry and music with Joe Carrick-Varty and Olivia Jageurs.

Will’s programme invites Palestinian poets based in the UK Yousif M. Qasmiyeh and Mira Mattar to the Festival; and brings together art and poetry with Turner Prize-winning artist Jesse Darling alongside Jay Bernard. Will has programmed events looking at the politics of motherhood with Helen Charman and Sandeep Parmar, and Class and Taste with Nathalie Olah and Daisy Lafarge.

International Voices

Versopolis, funded by Creative Europe Programme of the European Union, allows us to bring to Ledbury this summer Alexandros Chronides from Cyprus who writes in English and Greek and Leanne Ellul from Malta.

The Poetry Translation Centre celebrate their 20th birthday with a multilingual evening of queer Latinex poetry and translation with speakers live in Ledbury and joining us live from Buenos Aires.

Mira Mattar is the author of Yes, I Am A Destroyer, Affiliation and The Bow and Yousif M. Qasmyieh is the author of Writing the Camp and Eating the Archive. Palestinian poets based in the UK read from and talk about their work.

A Life in Poems

Mona Siddiqui, internationally recognised academic and broadcaster from University of Edinburgh where she is Professor of Interreligious Studies, shares her favourite poems.

Jules Hudson, best known for his appearances on BBC’s Countryfile and Escape to the Country, shares the poems that have mattered to him most.

And we’ll share a celebration of the work of the late Benjamin Zephaniah, led by his publisher Neil Astley, with readings of his work given by poets at the Festival.

Poets of the Past

Lucasta Miller talks about Keats, Linda Hart celebrates A.E.Housman, Tim Armstrong and Mark Ford discuss Thomas Hardy, Dinah Roe lectures on Christina Rossetti, Tom Mole and Malcolm Guite analyse Coleridge, Francesa Wade hymns modernist poet H.D. and John Goodby toasts the 70th anniversary of Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood.

Workshops

Paul Muldoon leads a workshop ‘Draft Exclusion’ challenging some notions of how poems get made. And a workshop ‘Be All and End All’ looking at how poems end. With a bang? With a whimper?

A.E. Stallings, Oxford Professor of Poetry leads a workshop on the pantoum, a Malaysian form of poetry.

Join Tristram Fane Saunders, Poetry Editor at The Telegraph, looking at Poetry and Criticism.

Rachael Allen, Granta editor and Faber poet leads a writing workshop.

Music and Performance

Brian Bilston gives a performance from Days Like These which promises to take the blues out of Monday, flatten the Wednesday hump and amplify that Friday feeling!

Roy McFarlane, Canal Laureate and performer, performs with Randolph Matthews adapting poems from McFarlane’s Living by Troubled Water,s bringing voice to the voiceless in celebration of hope.

Ledbury Choral Society presents music by composers including Stanford, Vaughan Williams and Howells in settings of poetry by Henry Newbolt, Mary Coleridge, George Herbert and Shakespeare. A new work by composer Simon Perberdy has been especially commissioned for this concert.

Join Olivia Jaguers, harpist as she plays with Martha Kapos reading from her Sonatas.

Round off your day with Antony Szmierek’s joyful ‘pop-poetry’ exuding optimism with guitar.

Join the Ledbury Poetry Festival annual SLAM!

Children and Families

TWO WEEKENDS PACKED WITH CREATIVE WORKSHOPS, DISCOVERY, PERFORMANCE and POETRY

Ledbury Poetry is thrilled to present a fabulous range of performance, workshops and events for young people of all ages and their families which will take place over both weekends of this Summer’s Festival: 29th/30th June and 6th/7th July. Celebrate the environment with Alex Wharton, The Children’s Laureate in Wales, dive in with author Catherine Barr to discover why we must protect freshwater to save life on Earth and discover the winners of Ledbury Young Poets Competition on Rivers which has been run with Herefordshire Libraries and Herefordshire Wildlife Trust. Daniel Thompson presents his Nature Poems in a joyful event with musical instruments and storytelling, and Sea-Legs puppet theatre takes little ones on a whimsical journey with Lear’s Dream. The whole family will enjoy a performance by award-winning 2FacedDance in Fish Boy, designed for children in celebration of rivers.

Education

Ledbury Poetry Festival Schools Day invites and enables school children to join the Festival for a fabulous event celebrating poetry. This year we’re thrilled Nicola Davies will present poetry of the oceans.

Following the success of last year’s inaugural A Level Poetry Study Day we’re pleased to invite Sixth Form Colleges from across the West Midlands to come and hear Zaffar Kunial unpack how he writes poetry, to hear Imtiaz Dharker talk about how to look at unseen poetry, to hear from Pearson Edexcel what the exam board are looking for in those all important exams and finally to join a poetry writing workshop creating some of their own work with Dr Stacey from the University of Worcester.

Ledbury Poetry Town

Everyone is welcome to join the Festival live in beautiful Ledbury. Events are held in the historic buildings in the market town. Ledbury is packed with independent shops, and there are markets throughout the week. At the weekends there will be poetry in the sunny churchyard where you can drop by to hear new work from poets featured over the weekend and the Festival is rounded off with an outdoor Celebration Day by The Master’s House packed with local food and drink and poetry and music.

 

JOIN ONLINE

Many events are live-streamed enabling the world to explore, discuss, debate and celebrate alongside the live audience. Digital Pass Tickets allow access to events and the opportunity to join in asking questions. We’ll be sending out to digital pass holders ways in which you can create the Ledbury Poetry Festival atmosphere from home!

Amy Howard, Director, says: I’m thrilled to be launching this year’s programme, and I look forward to hearing what people think. It is a programme which has a lovely mix of events, -there’s definitely something for everyone. Ledbury Poetry Festival is very special, and I think that the fact that this beautiful little town hosts the country’s biggest poetry festival is something to be really proud of. It means a lot to me personally that we can use this platform to showcase some fantastic international artists. Our internationality, and understanding of ourselves as part of a global poetry community, is key to what we do.

Stephanie Sy-Quia, Guest Curator, says: It’s such a delight to be welcoming such a variety of poets to Ledbury again this year, and I so look forward to watching them cross-pollinate with one another. It promises to be an inspiring ten days! 

Will Harris, Guest Curator says: Ledbury Poetry Festival feels unique in its dedication to bringing different forms and folk together. I’ve tried to honour this spirit in the events I’ve curated… I’m personally so excited and ready to be surprised and altered by all these conversations and readings. Hope you can make it too!

If you would like to speak with the Director, Guest Curators or any of the poets and speakers at this year’s Festival please contact Becky Shaw at Becky.shaw@ledburypoetry.org.uk

Notes to Editors

Inclusive, International, Inspirational

Ledbury Poetry creates live and online programmes throughout the year culminating in Ledbury Poetry Festival each July. Now in its 28th year, it is the largest and most international celebration of poetry and spoken word in Britain making Ledbury the home of poetry in the UK.

Ledbury Poetry Festival runs 28th June – 7th July 2024.

Ledbury Poetry has moved to The Barrett Browning Institute in Ledbury. Our new home is a hive of activity and welcomes visitors to workshops and events live in Ledbury and online throughout the year. Ledbury Poetry House also hosts the Box Office and a Bookshop.

Ledbury Poetry Critics launched its mentorship programme, recruiting 12 critics of colour, in 2017, and has been responsible for increasing the visibility of poets and critics of colour. There are now over 35 critics within the programme founded by Ledbury Poetry Trustees Sandeep Parmar and Sarah Howe with support from Ledbury Poetry. Ledbury Poetry Critics introduce and chair events at Ledbury Poetry Festival and the Guest Curators have been appointed in 2024 from this programme: Will Harris and Stephanie Sy-Quia. Full information on the programme can be found here: www.ledburypoetry.org.uk/home/ledbury-poetry-critics

Ledbury Poetry Player ensures that events are available for everyone around the world to enjoy.

Ledbury Poetry Competition runs annually. The Judge for 2024 is Maya C. Popa. Prizes include £1,000 and a week’s poetry course with our partner, Arvon. www.ledburypoetry.org.uk/competition

Ledbury Poetry Salons, Workshops, and Masterclasses are delivered live and online throughout the year. Look for programmes on our What’s On page www.ledburypoetry.org.uk

Ledbury Poetry Learning projects include work in schools, a monthly young writers group, the ‘Crucial Creators’ and learning opportunities for 16-25 year olds, as well as volunteering training and opportunities for all ages – all of which develop and enhance Ledbury as the Town of Poetry.

Ledbury Poetry is a charity. Registration no. Charity No 1059465

For all information and to explore our programmes please visit: www.ledburypoetry.org.uk

Sign up to our mailing list for all the latest news from Ledbury Poetry sent directly to you every month: www.ledburypoetry.org.uk

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For further information please contact Becky Shaw: becky.shaw@ledburypoetry.org.uk 

 

Ledbury Poetry is grateful to all funders and supporters

 

 

 

 

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