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Poetry Festival celebrates 10th event

All Areas > Entertainment > Literature

Author: Thomas Hadfield, Posted: Friday, 27th March 2020, 09:00

Carol Ann Duffy Carol Ann Duffy

Poets and writers from across the country will be flocking to Cheltenham in October to celebrate a very special event.

This year marks the 10th annual Cheltenham Poetry Festival, and founder Anna Saunders says she never imagined the event would be as successful as it has been.

“No, I didn't dream when we launched in 2011 that we would be lucky enough to have a decade of festivals!” she said.

“We have been incredibly lucky really, we have very supportive audiences that come back year after year.”

Over the years the festival has hosted some huge names from the world of poetry, including John Cooper-Clark, Kim Moore and Casey Bailey.

And this year will be no different, with one of the UK’s most well-known and beloved poet laureates set to appear.

“We decided to have a big celebratory party for our 10th year,” continued Anna, “and we have invited Carol Ann Duffy to headline – she will be reading with three other acclaimed poets; Keith Hutson, Mark Pajak and Ella Duffy.

“Plus we see the return of some phenomenal festival favourites – Professor Elemental, who this year asks, ‘was Philip Larkin an extinction rebel?’, plus Rowan McCabe and John Hegley.

“And as ever, we have talks, workshops, electrifying slams, hilarious comedy, rich literature, song writing, dance music, and readings and open mics galore!”

The festival, which this year runs for nine days, has a different theme every year, as Anna explains.

She said: “Our theme is 'wild' and we are hoping to go a little crazy!

“We offer diversity, inspiration, enlightenment and wild entertainment. We have a steam punk party in a chapel, hip hop, comedy, a visit from Liverpool's Rare Tribe of Poets, 12 slam champs going head to head in a spoken word battle, and even a little local humour in the shape of the very funny Bovine Poet, AKA Tanya Feasey.”

Whilst the festival does bring poets from all over the country, there is also a focus on promoting local Gloucestershire creatives.

“We have always aimed to provide a stage to internationally acclaimed visiting writers and to some of the exciting, emerging and established names that live in the area,” said Anna.

“Gloucestershire is an absolute hotbed of talent! We have some revered names living in the area as well and a flourishing ‘open mic' scene.”

And Anna – herself a five-time published poet – will be releasing a new collection of poetry at the festival.

“It's my sixth poetry collection and is due out on Thursday 16th April with Indigo Dreams (publishers),” she added.

“It's called Feverfew and I am going to launch it at the festival. It's probably my most intense collection and responds to some contemporary concerns – climate change, politics, poverty – with a few slightly more personal poems thrown in for equal measure.

“Helen Ivory said of it the poems were ‘all fire’, so I am hoping that no one who comes to my launch gets burnt!”

For more information on the Cheltenham Poetry Festival visit www.cheltenhampoetryfestival.co.uk

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