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The Malvern Hills are known for their beautiful views, long hikes and bike trails but Ledbury the small town at the heart of these hills is the venue to one of the biggest poetry festivals in the UK. Every year thousands of people descend on the small market town of Ledbury to listen, talk and write poetry.
Ledbury Poetry Festival started in 1997 when a group of local poetry enthusiasts came together to organise the first Ledbury poetry festival. Since then it has grown from strength to strength with 15,000 visitors attending the festival in its 21st anniversary last year, (2017) leading the festival to win Best Community Festival at the Visit Herefordshire Awards 2017.
Over ten days (29th June – 8th July), 80 events, and over 150 performers from all over the world including Alexis Taylor, Benjamin Zephaniah, Michael Palin, Sabrina Mahfouz and Jackie Kay with perform, talk, discuss and maybe even write some poetry.
The best of the UK’s contemporary poetry scene will be on show in Ledbury with slam Champion Vanessa Kisuule, Sabrina Mahfouz and Joelle taylor performing together. Jackie Kay, will be joined by Zaffar Kunial and US poet Major Jackson, to read and discuss from a new anthology celebrating the life and activism of Martin Luther King. There will be a wider array of workshops to support and help burgeoning poets from Sinéad Morrisey, Linda Gregerson and Nine Arch Press editor Jane Commane.
Headstuff interviewed the Poet in Residence at Ledbury, Zaffar Kunial, who spoke ahead of his debut collection ‘Us’ published by Faber and Faber. Zaffar talks to Headstuff on his role as Poet In Residence, the transition from writing a pamphlet to his debut collection and his diverse set of poetic influences.
The Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critics scheme was founded in late 2017 to encourage diversity in poetry reviewing culture and support emerging critical voices. Open to budding BAME poetry critics resident in the UK, the scheme offers an intensive eight-month mentorship programme, including workshops, one-to-one mentorship and critical feedback on the writing of a poetry review which will ultimately be shared with a number of partner publications.
The 8 Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critics are Dzifa Benson, Mary Jean Chan, Jade Cuttle, Sarala Estruch, Maryam Hessavi, Nasser Hussain, Srishti Krishnamoorthy-Cavell and Jennifer Lee Tsai.
Chloe Garner, Ledbury Poetry Festival’s Artistic Director says
‘Ledbury Poetry Festival aims to explore, unpick and illuminate the best contemporary poetry written in the world today, as well as taking a fresh look at poets of the past, through a huge array of events including readings, discussions, performances and workshops. Come and join the fun, we are looking forward to welcoming you!’
Poetry is often written off as irrelevant, niche, and a luxury but Ledbury Poetry Festival brings together the best of what is a thriving UK poetry scene.
The full programme and tickets can be found here
Submissions are open for all HeadStuff poetry categories, including Poem of The Week (Every Friday), Unbound (longer sequence of poems from a single poet), and New Voices (submissions from poets under the age of 30.) We accept both written, audio and video recorded poems as long as the quality of the audio and video is of a high standard.
We have launched a Poetry Competition to celebrate Poetry Day Ireland with a theme of Surprise Encounters. For information and how to enter please see here.
Please see our Submissions page for more information.
Photo’s credited to Ledbury Poetry Festival.