Wild Swimming by Stephanie Sy-Quia

Throughout my experience of guest curating this year’s festival, the whole Ledbury team have entertained all my ideas, however off-the-wall. And I am absolutely delighted to report that we were able to programme a good number of them!

There is, however, one particular departure from the usual event format which I am keen to highlight: a poetry reading and wild swim! Ticketholders will gather at a designated meeting spot to be transported, via minibus, to a nearby campsite which boasts a lovely swimming pond. There, the poets Nina Mingya Powles and Alycia Pirmohamed will give an open-air, pond-side reading, before everyone is invited to go for a dip.

This event will be one of the earlier ones of the festival’s opening weekend, so it will be a wonderful and hopefully refreshing way to dive into ten days of invigorating poetry, proving, I hope, that it is an art which can and does flourish everywhere.

Nina Mingya Powles is the author of the Forward Prize-shortlisted Magnolia, and, more recently, the essay collection Small Bodies of Water. The latter is a form of nature writing not much seen in the British tradition: there are essays about invasive species, wild swimming, homesickness for New Zealand or Malaysia, or what it means to enjoy the nature of your current home when your visa status is pending or uncertain.

Alycia Pirmohamed is a one-woman powerhouse for poetry in the UK – a leader of the Ledbury Poetry Critics and a co-founder of the Scottish BAME Writers’ Network, among other achievements. Her collection Another Way to Split Water is very much in dialogue with Nina’s Small Bodies: here memories of her native Canada, past relationships, and other journeys pool and coalesce into bright, glimmering lyrics.


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