Much Wenlock Poetry Festival Preview, April 13 -15th , 2012

Anna Dreda, founder and Artistic Director is to be commended on a superb three day programme for this year’s festival with plenty of free events ramping up to a £75 a head workshop with David Whyte – which is sold out!

Heavy weight names are combined with lesser known but just as worthy poets in a strong line-up of page poetry, including: Carol Ann Duffy, Liz Lochhead and Gillian Clarke; Jackie Kay, Lavinia Greenlaw and Nick Drake; Mario Petrucci, Paul Henry, Fiona Sampson, Elaine Feinstein, and Daljit Nagra .
Mark Niel curates a day of performance poetry, Spoz hosts the Wenlock Poetry Slam. Additionally, there will be cart-wheeling poets, poets in ambulances, and poets in cafés – and as always, watch out for the Wirral Poets in the High Street and around the town.

Friday 13th
Lady Forester Nursing Home 2pm £10 (£9)

Poetry & Dementia
John Killick, Jacqui Rowe, David Calcutt & Deborah Alma are ‘Listeners’. They use poetry to communicate with people with dementia, and their long-term project run by the Courtyard, Hereford, involves working regularly in care homes throughout Herefordshire. ‘In the Pink’ is a book of poems by people with dementia, published from work generated by the project.
John Killick, Jacqui Rowe, David Calcutt & Deborah Alma will talk about the ideas behind the work, their experiences of the project and read some of the poems. This will be an engaging and moving presentation, valuable for practitioners, people with dementia, and their families.
The Pottery 3pm £8 (£7)

Reading, tea and scones
Pauline was the winner of the 2006 Callum Macdonald Award for pamphlet poetry. In her latest collection, Holding Close, she writes about birth and death and everything in between, including the mysterious relationship between men and crumbs! This event was a sell-out last year and we look forward to welcoming Pauline back for more of her trademark wry humour and honestly affectionate take on relationships and family life. Join Pauline for tea and scones while she reads from her latest collection.

Priory Hall 3pm £3 (£2.50)
Readings with a very apposite theme!
We are delighted to host this long-standing writers’ group.
Priory Hall 5-7pm £7 (£6)

Reading by Carole Boyd, also known as Lynda Snell from The Archers in Ambridge.
The Pottery 7.30pm £5 (4.50)

Do you think you’ve got what it takes to slam? Three minutes to do your thing against fifteen other poets? If you would like to have a go, email Spoz at Spaces are limited, so first come, first served!
Spoz needs almost no introduction having hosted the Wenlock Slam at our two previous festivals. His enthusiasm, sense of fun, and passionate love of performance poetry combine with an irrepressible energy to create a Slam that will still be being talked about long after the festival is over. We are delighted that last year’s Wenlock Poetry Slam Winner Emma Purshouse is coming back as one of our Judges, watch out for other special guests, too.

Sat 14th
Priory Hall 10am £3 (£2.50)

Border Poets meet in various parts of the region, but their session at Kilpeck was particularly productive. They’ll be reading from their latest collection Sheep, Smoke, Stone, but also from “Voices out of the Eaves of Kilpeck Church”, a sequence by Miriam Obrey.
The Pottery 10am £5 (£4.50)
Cinnamon Press is an independent, innovative, international publisher.
Methodist Church 10am £8 (£7)

Sam Ward is an Honorary Visiting Fellow at the University of Nottingham. He has published widely on Clare and Romantic poetry, and edits Skysill Press. Writing Larks will provide an introduction to the “Northamptonshire Peasant Poet” John Clare (1793-1864), looking in particular at his engagement with the environment and responses to agricultural change.

Priory Hall noon 11.30 – 12.30 £3 (£2.50)
Note change of time from the printed brochure.

Three poets reflect upon ‘The Moon’ and how it inspires them.

Priory Hall 12.30-4.30 Free
JOHN GORMAN and the Wirral Alliance of Poets

will be at home in the Priory Hall where their performance poetry will include the World Premiere of the Shropshire Symphony No 2 on A Flat [table] for Voice, Sounds, Words & Music.
DEAN JOHNSON will present his acclaimed ‘Bullets and Daffodils’, based on the Life & Poems of Wilfred Owen.
There will also be readings by the Wirral Young Poet Laureate 2012, the Deputy WYPL, and past Laureates: Carol Ann Duffy is their Patron.
– and it is all free! Call in to Priory Hall to see what’s going on:

12:30-13:00 – 3 Poets
13:00-13:30 -3 Poets
14:00-14:30 – Bullets& Daffodils: a play based on the Life and Poems of Wilfred Owen by Dean Johnson
14:30-15:00 – 3 Poets
15:00-15:30 – The Masked Poet and his Challenge
15;30-16:00 – 3 Poets
16:00-16:30 – 3 Poets
When the poets aren’t reading they shall be circulating the shops, cafes, restaurants, library, 20/20, museum, car parks, the square, the streets, Raven Hotel, etc. They will be busking on the streets, and in nooks, crannies and niches; invading cafes, shops and other venues with the Poetry Hit Squad; they will be in your face, at your elbow, on your case; they will leave the air thick with poems; poems will be running in the gutters; poems will sprout where normal poems fear to be read – experience them at your own risk! And watch out for the Masked Poet … and his challenge!

He had me in stitches” Knitters’ Weekly
“Puts Other Poets in the Shade” Umbrella Collectors Quarterly
“Made my eyes water!” Groin Appreciation Society Online Magazine
It’s almost more fun than we can bear.
Be there or be square!

The Pottery noon £10 (£9)
FRED D’AGUIAR – The Rose of Toulouse

Fred D’Aguiar is the author of eleven books of poetry and fiction. His most recent book, Continental Shelf (Carcanet, 2009) was a Poetry Book Society Choice and shortlisted for the UK’s T.S. Eliot Prize 2009. He teaches at Virginia Tech University where he is Professor of English. Fred’s contribution to poetry is immense, and we are very proud he is coming to Wenlock.
Methodist Church noon £8 (£7)

Words and Music
The popular Welsh poet returns to read from his latest work, ‘The Black Guitar’, which was recently published in India and is a version from his acclaimed selected poems, The Brittle Sea. Described by the late U.A. Fanthorpe as “a poet’s poet” who combines “a sense of the music of words with an endlessly inventive imagination”, Henry is also a musician and will include some of his songs in this event.
The Edge Arts Centre noon £2 (£2)

Children’s Reading 7-11 years
‘Chrissie Gittins know just what words can do: she makes them dance, sing, sit still for a moment then leap across the page with joy!” Ian McMillan.
Trapped wasps, sweet-smelling pirates, embarrassing dads; anything is possible in poetry. Come and hear about woks being thrown around the Clun Valley, and loading cannons on a sailing ship. Chrissie’s three children’s collections – ‘The Humpback’s Wail’, ‘I Don’t Want an Avocado for an Uncle’ and ‘Now You See Me, Now You …’ are all ‘Choices’ for the Children’s Poetry Bookshelf. She has read her children’s poetry in Shetland, Bangkok and New York. Chrissie also writes poetry for adults, short stories and radio drama.

The Pottery 2pm £10 (£9)
CHRISTOPHER REID and ROZ GODDARD in conversation – How Poets Work

Award-winning poet, essayist, cartoonist and writer Christopher Reid and the former Poet Laureate for Birmingham, Roz Goddard will talk about their writing, the importance of poetry in their lives and discuss their varying poetic territories – how a poem comes to life, why poems are abandoned and why it’s important to fill up the creative tank. Both poets will read from their work.
The Edge Arts Centre 2pm £6 (£5.50)

Enjoy a group performance from Nadia Kingsley’s Shropshire Butterflies – a poetic and artistic guide to the butterflies of Shropshire. For butterfly fans and poetry lovers alike, this will be an extravaganza of lepidoptery. Performers include Katherine Swift (author of The Morville Hours), Roger Garfitt and Mario Petrucci. Thank you to Dr.& Mrs Harold Hughes for their generous sponsorship of this performance of Shropshire Butterflies!
The full line up to date:
Nadia Kingsley
Katherine Swift
Mario Petrucci
Roger Garfitt
Matthew Oates
Alwyn Marriage
Nick Pearson
Paul Francis
Emma Purshouse
Tom Wentworth
Charles Worth
Keith Chandler

Wenlock Priory 4pm £25 (£22.50)
MURIEL PASSEY – “Upstairs, Downstairs And In My Lady’s Chamber” – poetry all over the house
Muriel Passey’s lectures have been described as “elegant, erudite and entertaining”. Despite this encouragement, she has never published a slim, suede-bound volume of occasional verse, but is truly delighted to have been invited to Wenlock Poetry Festival to air her poetic views! We are thrilled that Muriel’s presentation will take place in Wenlock Priory, home of Gabrielle Drake and Louis de Wet. There will be an informal reception following her talk. We advise that there are uneven surfaces and steep steps at this venue, and it is not suitable for wheelchairs.
We are enormously grateful to Gabrielle Drake and Louis de Wet for their kind generosity in hosting this event.

Hughley Church 4pm £10 (£9)
THE HOUSMAN SOCIETY – Shoulder The Sky – The Seventy Springs of A E Housman devised by GABRIEL WOOLF

This talk will give an intense flavour of the life and the work of A.E. Housman. His serious poems are peppered with witty light verse, and salted with brilliant parodies. These seemingly effortless simple ballads stay in the heart and mind ( and irritate the intellectuals so much) and are here put in the context of the events that brought them so unexpectedly into existence. Sponsored by the Housman Society.

Pottery 4pm £6 (£5.50)
Note this is a new event, not in the programme

Reading – ‘THE BLUE DRESSING GOWN’ and other poems
Ross Donlon comes to us from Australia. He was won international poetry prizes, including the Wenlock Festival Poetry Prize and the MPU International Poetry Competition and was lately shortlisted for the Bridport prize. He has toured Australia reading his poetry, where he has also won awards for spoken word events. He will be reading new work as well as poems from his latest book, The Blue Dressing Gown and other poems, whose discontinuous narrative of a moving sequence of ‘father poems’ has attracted high praise. Ross is once again a welcome visitor to our festival.
The Edge Arts Centre 4pm £12 (£10)

Reading – Able for It -Shaping an Imaginative, Resilient Self through Poetry
One of the powers of poetry is to establish an inner imaginative discipline, which allows us live a fiercer, more courageous, if simpler life at the centre of momentous events and besieging circumstances. In this way, we are able to create a more beautiful mind, to find a clearer focus, to work from a surer internal foundation than the one the media tries to establish for us, all the while cultivating a sense of humour and celebration that binds our independent selves into a larger community.
In this presentation, David Whyte will look at a body of poetry, his own and others, which looks at the ability of the imagination to create a robust, independent self that is equal to, if not larger than, the tenor or difficulty of the times.
The Edge Arts Centre 7.30pm £15 (£13)

The Poet Laureate will read from her latest work, Bees – a luminous collection of poetry and her first new collection since accepting the laureateship. The poems within are described by the Scottish Makar Liz Lochhead, as being witty, nakedly honest, accessible and mysterious: they are also heart-stoppingly moving. Carol Ann will share the stage with emerging poet Adam Horovitz, who was Poet in Residence for the Glastonbury Festival website, was arts editor for the Stroud News and Journal, and has supported himself by ghostwriting, copy-writing, sheep dipping, bar work and more. His debut collection, Turning, was released by Headland in 2011. We are happy to nurture his career in poetry with this opportunity. Ann Gray is known to last year’s festival-goers as the one who made us cry the most! Her poetry is moving, wryly humorous, and always engaging. Ann will be reading from both published and new work, travelling from Grief, through Hope to Joy. We are so pleased to welcome her back. This event is generously sponsored by Headland Publications.

Sun 15th
The Edge Arts Centre 10am £8 (£7)
When Martin Figura was 9 years old, his father killed his mother. Figura explores themes of identity, forgiveness, loss, family & adoption with insight and gentle humour, to tell a unique coming-of-age story. Short-listed for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry 2010.
‘Profoundly honest and at the same time joyfully entertaining’ Independent on Sunday
The Limekilns, Presthope, Wenlock Edge 10am £5 (£4.50)
A narrative poem written to be performed at the Wenlock Poetry Festival 2012, Kiln is an imagined story inspired by a real historic event.

The story of Alice Glaston is set in the present day and narrated by Paul Evans. Alice walks through Much Wenlock, describing who and what she sees. She waits for dusk on the Church Green and walks out into the fields and woods of Wenlock Edge, to a place called Gallows Tree Leasowe.
This is where Alice Glaston was hung in 1545, aged 11 years old. She continues her walk to a derelict lime kiln hidden in the woods where the story has its climax. We discover that her remains were found by accident hundreds of years after her death and taken to a limekiln to be secretly burned. Alice became part of the lime used in mortar, whitewash and spread on fields and so remains a constant presence in this landscape.
Although the story is macabre, it’s not presented as such. Alice is a lively, bright girl who loves nature. She is a benign presence and through her we see the countryside in a different way. Alice’s story is an opportunity to remember how brutal acts in history have become part of the world around us and their forgotten stories are part of a shared history which must be told.

The Pottery 10am £8 (£7)
Poet, essayist and critic, and with a deep interest in the relationship between poetry, silence and music, Fiona Sampson uses her voice to release the music of the lines of her poetry, and the charged spaces between them. Sampson lifts her words from the page and allows them to live in our heads. We are delighted to welcome Fiona Sampson to Much Wenlock for the first time..
The Pottery noon £8 (£7)
Lachlan Mackinnon was born in 1956. His fourth collection, Small Hours (Faber, 2010), was shortlisted for the Forward Prize 2010 and in 2011 he was the recipient of a Cholmondeley Award. He is a regular reviewer for the national press, and has also written two critical books and a biography. Lachlan is a poised lyricist with a taste for eccentric experiment. His poetry is both an act of resistance, and a way of setting things down “so clearly that a thousand years may hear
The Edge Arts Centre 2pm £8 (£7)
Note change of venue from the printed brochure
Talk – Poetry & Plays
In this session, playwright David Edgar will show how drama shares many of the elements and structures of poetry. Unlike the novel, but like poems, plays are written to be spoken, as well as being designed to be consumed at a single bite.
Illustrating his session by actors’ readings from classical and modern plays as well as clips from films and television drama, David Edgar will show how plays communicate meaning by the technique – familiar to poets – of drawing unexpected connections between different elements. Plays as a whole have a common, underlying shape which owes more to the metaphorical character of the poem than the literalism of the novel. This is partly because the key events in so many plays take place in a metaphorical space.
So, as well as containing poetry (from the Greek chorus via Shakespearian blank verse to the bleak imagery of Samuel Beckett), great plays are poems in themselves.
David Edgar is one of Britain’s leading playwrights, who has written extensively for the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and many other theatres. His best known work includes Destiny, Pentecost and a multi-award-winning adaptation of Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby. His play about the making of the King James Bible – Written on the Heart – opened at Stratford last October. Founder of Britain’s first full-time university playwriting course (at Birmingham in 1989) his session draws on his hugely successful book about playwriting, How Plays Work, published by Nick Hern Books in 2009.
The Edge Arts Centre noon-2pm £3 (£2.50)
POLLY BOLTON and GILL McEVOY – Celebrating the Homelands of St. Milburga
Music and Poetry
We are made of water, water is essential to life. Wells were once the source of water in Much Wenlock, the home of St Milburga. In this performance, water is celebrated in all its forms, its relevance to home and life, and some of the legends associated with St Milburga. Gill will be reading some of her recent poems celebrating local wells and streams, and other water sources often associated with saints and Polly has set some of these to song for her community choir, Larks.
The Pottery 4pm £8 (£7)
Elaine Feinstein is a prize-winning poet, novelist and playwright. Her first novel, The Circle, (1971) won the Betty Miller prize, and was long listed for the ‘lost’ Man Booker prize in 2010. Her most recent is The Russian Jerusalem (2008) for which she received a major Arts Council Award. Her versions of the great Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva were first published in 1970, and have never been out of print. She has travelled all over the world to read her poetry. In her latest book of poems, Cities (2010), she explores the haunted landscape between past and present, history and memory. Her most poignant book of poems, Talking to the Dead, is both an exploration of loss, and a witty acknowledgement of the strains felt in a marriage of nearly fifty years. A Dangerous Pursuit, the title of her memoirs, on which she is currently working, is essentially the story of her writing life, illustrated by poems, especially from Talking to the Dead, Cities, and Bride of Ice.

The Edge Arts Centre 2pm £8 (£7)
Prestigious prize winner Daljit Nagra – the Forward Prize for Best Individual Poem with ‘Look We Have Coming to Dover!’, also the title of his first collection, won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, The South Bank Show Decibel Award, and was nominated for The Costa Prize, The Guardian First Book Prize, the Aldeburgh Prize and the Glen Dimplex Award. Daljit has performed at venues throughout the world, and is a regular contributor to BBC radio. He has also written articles for The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Observer, The Times of India.
Daljit was a very popular performer at our first festival and we are so pleased to welcome him back in 2012 with his second book, Tippoo Sultan’s Incredible White-Man-Eating Tiger Toy-Machine!!! – in which he is concerned with linguistic identity, literary tradition and colonial history. An exuberant and joyfully brilliant collection.

Methodist Church 2pm £15 (£13)
Workshop – Catching Poems
Poet and teacher Ross Donlon will run a three hour workshop drawing on his experience in teaching at writers’ centres and universities in Australia. An award winning poet, both for work on the page and spoken word, he will provide the class with a hands on (or pens down!) experience, so that participants will leave with a number of useful drafts. He will also provide tips regarding reading poetry, including microphone technique. Participants should bring an object or photograph with them that is of emotional importance.

The Edge Arts Centre 4pm £8 (£7)
MARIO PETRUCCI Black Mountains / Rare Flowers A New Track for Poetry?
“Reminiscent of e.e. cummings at his best” (Envoi), “Mario Petrucci’s poetry performances attract international recognition, embracing issues of searing social, linguistic and personal relevance through his hallmark combination of innovation and humanity.” Inspired by Black Mountain, Petrucci embraces contemporary issues of searing social and personal relevance, but always through musicality and a profound ability to move us. From the intimacies of love and loss, via the tragedy of Chernobyl, to the recently-published the waltz in my blood, Petrucci promises no less than “Poetry on a geological scale… a new track for poets of witness” (Verse).
Mario has received many awards for his poetry: he is four times winner of the London Writers Competition and recipient of the 2002 Arvon/ Daily Telegraph International Poetry Prize. We are delighted to welcome Mario back to Wenlock.
The Edge Arts Centre 7pm £15 (£12.50)
Our finalé sees the Laureate of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; the Scottish Makar, and the National Poet of Wales on stage together in a celebration of the very best of contemporary poetry in the UK. Expect not just fine poetry, but the sheer delight of these three poets revelling in their own and each other’s work and company.

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