PRESS RELEASE 9.7.23
LEDBURY POETRY FESTIVAL 2023 REPORTS STELLAR TEN DAYS
Ledbury Poetry Festival is thrilled to announce increased figures for ten-day festival live in Ledbury and online to the world.
Award-winning poets, the Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho, family favourites, workshops and world classics have been rounded off each day with music, dance, slams and bands.
Director Chloe Garner says: It has been a tremendous Ledbury Poetry Festival 2023, with packed, sell-out events, stunning performances, friendly, happy audiences – live and online to the world. Ledbury Poetry Festival is special because of the volunteers, who make everything possible – and it is delightful to welcome new, and especially young volunteers – and to see poetry happening everywhere in our community.
Guest Curator Stephanie Sy-Quia says: It’s been such a joy to co-curate this year’s festival. I have been so impressed by the age-diverse audiences attending all the events, and their sense of adventure. They’ll try anything once and I believe we would all do well to adopt that attitude in greater measure! Our exclusive dance commission from Oluwaseun Olayiwola, made in collaboration with poet Andrew McMillan, was a resounding success. Similarly, I saw for myself how Alycia Pirmohamed and Nina Mingya Powles were approached by multiple people throughout Ledbury, complimenting them on their poetry and wild swim event. I was delighted that our event partnered with Hay Wines went so well, as this is exactly the kind of community partnership I am keen to foster. I would like to extend my extra special thanks to all of the volunteers, hosts, and interns, have been an absolutely crack team.
At Ledbury Poetry Festival 2023:
35% increase at Ledbury Poetry Festival this summer.
Bestsellers of the Festival have been Michael Morpurgo’s new book My Heart was a Tree and Don Paterson’s new collection The Arctic.
Peter Arscott, Chair of Ledbury Poetry Festival for 27 years is handing over to new Chair Peter Salt. Peter Salt has been a Ledbury Poetry Trustee for 12 years and is looking forward to the future.
New Internship scheme, supported by Creative Pathways in the Shire, worked with graduates at partner universities: Worcester University, Gloucester University and Bath Spa University. These graduates undertook ten days of work experience in Arts Management including venue management, audience management, artist management and festival production. They also had a series of seminars with publishers and arts producers and curators behind the scenes.
New partnership with Hereford College of Arts, supported by Creative Pathways in the Shire, worked with graduates from the Photography Degree who worked with professional photographers in capturing live arts and documentary photography and editing.
And with days packed with FREE open-air drop-in activities, workshops, poetry and performances we hope that a wide audience from our local community and beyond have enjoyed some poetry events in #ledburypoetrytown too!
DATES FOR FESTIVAL 2024
Ledbury Poetry Festival next summer will be 28th June – 7th July 2024.
Award winning poets included
Simon Armitage, the Poet Laureate, plays with his band LYR. His new collection of lyrics Never Good with Horses is out this spring.
Joseph Coelho entertained family audiences at the weekend. Inspired by magic and the ancient world. Joseph explores fear, courage, diversity, empathy and gratitude. His award-winning work includes Overheard in a Tower Block and The Girl Who Became a Tree.
Maya C Popa, Romanian-American writer, academic and editor whose latest book has been rapturously received, Wound is the Origin of Wonder.
Joelle Taylor, T.S. Eliot prize-winning poet for her collection C+nto, judged the Ledbury Poetry Competition in 2022 and hosts the winners at the Festival, as well as headlining a performance sure to inspire. She is a myth maker, risk taker and poetical activist.
Guest Curator Stephanie Sy_Quia’s programme includes new commissions, invigorating themes and explorations.
Stephanie Sy-Quia and Sarala Estruch, both Ledbury Poetry Critics, explore their debut collections, Amnion and After All We Have Travelled probing the modes of writing about family with all its anxieties and joys.
Will Harris, Anthony Anaxagoru and Omar Bin Musa talk Brothers and Bonds: Refashioning Masculinities.
Stans and Mystics asks what subject links rapture, chronic illness and celebrity culture and believe the answer is medieval mysticism. Abi Palmer looks to St Teresa of Avila in Sanatorium and Naomi Morris looks at Julian of Norwich. Both suggest these mystics have a lot to teach us now – fandom, being a little too online and ecstasy.
Trip Literature looks at what the formal impact of a trip might be. In States of the Body produced by Love Nisha Ramayya burrowed into Sanskrit, one of her ancestral languages, via the means of an imperialist and imperialising dictionary ‘dragging lamps’ into the shafts she’d dug. Now, the trips which concern her most recent work are of a more hallucinatory, ascendant nature. Peter Scalpello explores the formal potential of chemsex (use of drugs in sex) and a foray into modes of queer becoming or evasion – which is complemented by their job as a sexual health therapist.
In Artistic Obsessions, Amy Key looks at Joni Mitchell in Arrangements in Blue and Tom De Freston’s Wreck is a multi layered work inspired by Gericault’s The Wreck of Medusa.
And leading into the weekend Stephanie Sy-Quia acts as poetry sommelier as wine and poetry are paired at a Poetry Tasting event hosted at Hay Wines.
LP is thrilled that Don Paterson will be joining us as poet in residence. He will be running workshops on the art and practise of writing poetry as well as joining discussions and talking about and reading from his own collection Artic, and joining two Dead Poets Society events about Shakespeare’s Sonnets and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
The environment is explored, celebrated, debated and questioned in LPF programme this summer.
Michael Morpurgo presents his new collection, out in June, My Heart was a Tree. Inspired by the poem by Ted Hughes which gives his book its name, by the woods around his home and by the mighty forests that support our life on Earth.
Monty Don presents his favourite poems about the gardens and nature.
Zaffar Kunial explores the pastoral in England’s Green, reprising many themes from his T.S.Eliot prize shortlisted collection Us.
Wild Swimming: Nina Mingya Powles and Alycia Pirmohamed have written about their relationship to water which coalesce in bright and unexpected ways. Join them at the wild swimming pool to swim and hear them read and talk about their work.
LPF’s World Classics series: Dead Poets Society
Emma Smith, University of Oxford joins Abigail Rokison-Woodall, University of Birmingham and Omar Elerian, the Director at the RSC of As You Like It (opens June) to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio. The Dead Poets Society also looks at the work of Christine de Pizan with Charlotte Cooper-Davis, the work of Ledbury’s own Elizabeth Barrett Browning with Don Paterson, Dinah Roe and Clare Armitstead, culture editor at The Guardian, and Rowan Williams and Megan Daffern read The Psalms. Marion Turner looks at The Wife of Bath. Join the discussion of these great poets of the past and Tishani Doshi presents the 14th century Kashmiri mystic poet Lal Ded with Menna Elfyn who introduces Eluned Phillips.
Family Favourites include Joseph Coelho and Michael Morpurgo starring in main stage events. This year there will be drop-in workshops around the poetree in Ledbury’s Walled Garden where everyone is welcome to relax in a Ledbury Poetry deckchair, sip home-made elderflower cordial and read! On the last day of the Festival, a Celebration Day takes place around The Masters House (Medieval hospital in the centre of Ledbury which now hosts Ledbury Library). Join poets, performers and a host of exhibition stands with wonderful food, plants and local drinks.
Also, in a first for Ledbury Poetry, a Study Day for A level students. With Tishani Doshi looking at her poem studied for A Level, Owen Sheers, poet, and founder of Black Mountains College, curating Climate Crisis poems and exploring with students these unseen poems, with Esther Menon, Principal Examiner for Pearson, and finishing with a poetry writing workshop presented by the Uni of Worcester’s Ruth Stacey.
Workshops include Don Paterson on the Art of and Practise of writing poetry, Andrew McMillan exploring A Quiet Life, Nasser Hussain on Joy, Becky Varley-Winters on Ecopoetics. Milena Williamson looks at Writing the Witch with the proliferation of witch poetry in recent years.
Music, dance and performances
Seckou Keita plays the Kora with Jackie Morris reading and painting in a magical event at Hellens Manor
Sam Lee, with his favourite music, talks about nightingales
A stunning new dance commission from Guest Curator Stephanie Sy-Quia for Oluwaseun Olayiwola poet and dancer, and Andrew McMillan poet called ‘Swan Sequence’.
Eadaoin Lynch reads from Fierce Scrow and they play ceili music on the fiddle.
The final night and highlight of Ledbury Poetry Festival 2023 will be a performance by LYR, Simon Armitage’s band.
Everyone is welcome to join the Festival live in beautiful Ledbury. Events are at historic venues, the community hall, the market theatre, the walled garden, the wild swimming pond and the local wine shop. And at the weekends there will be Poetry Passeggiata events in the sunny Churchyard where you can hear new work from poets featured over the weekend with an aperitivo in the early evenings.
Many events will also be 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.
Chloe Garner, Director, says: “Ledbury Poetry is inclusive and nurturing and these values are embodied in the Ledbury Poetry Critics’s programme where huge strides are being made to ensure diversity in poetry criticism. It is in this context that I am proud to welcome Ledbury Poetry Festival’s first ever Guest Curator, Stephanie Sy-Quia, a Ledbury Poetry Critic who won the 2022 Forward Prize for Best First Collection with Amnion. By changing the gatekeepers, Ledbury Poetry Festival looks to build diverse future audiences and a rich and thriving poetry scene. Stephanie’s events are characterised by their intriguing, provocative and thoughtful themes. Grab weekend passes and see them all!”
Stephanie Sy-Quia, Guest Curator, says: “I am absolutely delighted to be the guest curator for the festival this year. The whole festival team have been so accommodating and welcoming. This year, I really wanted to emphasise that poetry is a thriving thing in every space – be that a churchyard or a campsite (locations for some of our events), and open to all! We’ll be talking about medieval mysticism, jellyfish consciousness, and tracking the figure of Caliban through pop culture. I hope you can join us!”
If you would like to speak with Chloe Garner, Director, or Stephanie Sy-Quia, Guest Curator, please contact Becky Shaw on email@example.com
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 27th 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 has moved to The Barrett Browning Institute in Ledbury. Our new home is a hive of activity and welcomes visitors to explore exhibitions during the Festival. 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 Sandeep Parmar and Sarah Howe with support from Ledbury Poetry. Ledbury Poetry Critics introduce and chair events at Ledbury Poetry Festival this year and the first Guest Curator has been appointed in 2023 from this programme: 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 2022 was Joelle Taylor, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize. Prizes include £1,000 and a week’s poetry course with our partner, Arvon. Winners for 2022 can be found here: www.ledburypoetry.org.uk/competition. The 2023 competition will be launched in May.
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, monthly young writers groups, and learning opportunities for 16-25 year olds, as well as volunteering training and FREE STUDENT TICKETS under the Ledbury Poetry House Key scheme.
For all information and to explore our programmes please visit our website: www.ledburypoetry.org.uk
Sign up to our mailing list for all the latest news from Ledbury Poetry: www.ledburypoetry.org.uk
For further information about Ledbury Poetry please contact Becky Shaw: firstname.lastname@example.org