THE LONGEST running poetry festival in the UK returns to Stratford this summer.
The 62nd Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival, running from July 2 to August 2, will feature readings, performances and workshops, mixing the talents of award-winning poets with actors and musicians.
Organised by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the festival will mark the centenary of the death of Rupert Brooke, celebrate John Keats as a great Shakespearian, and welcome poet in residence Sally Goldsmith.
The festival will launch with a Poetry Mass at the Guild Chapel, and highlights of the month are set to include:
• Songs and Sonnets Poetry Workshop (July 4) – exploring the meaning of the sonnet and allowing people to create their own song with poet in residence Sally Goldsmith.
• Patience Agbabi’s Telling Tales (July 5) – an evening of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales re-told with a contemporary twist.
• Jo Bell’s ‘Kith’ (Jul y 11) – a return visit from last year’s poet in residence Jo Bell, who brings her new book ‘Kith’ to the festival.
• Filmpoem Festival Fifteen (July 11) – an evening of poetry films, curated by leading poetry filmmaker Alistair Cook. Supported by the Poetry Society.
• Amnesty: Poems for Freedom! (July 12) – Jane Lapotaire and Jasper Britton in an evening dedicated to freedom, in collaboration with Amnesty International UK.
• The Poetry of Rupert Brooke (July 19) – Edward Bennett and Michelle Terry perform the poetry of Rupert Brooke to mark the centenary of his death.
• Words, Words, Words (July 24) – renowned folk musician Ashley Hutchings presents a life in words and music.
• John Keats: Shakespearian, Friend and Poet (Jul y 26) – actor Scott Handy performs Keat’s poetry in a poignant tribute to Shakespeare.
Other events include a local poets evening, poetry Sunday with free activities for all the family, and the young people’s poetry featuring works from local schoolchildren.
The festival concludes on August2 with Desert Island Poems, in a grand finale featuring internationally renowned Royal Shakespeare Company voice director, Cicely Berry. Passionate about poetry since the age of 12, Cicely will share some of her favourite pieces along with a surprise special guest reader.
Dr Paul Edmondson, Poetry Festival Director and Head of Research and Knowledge at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said, “We are delighted to be working with Writing West Midlands on this year’s programme which brings together a great variety of events featuring works by established artists alongside plenty of new writing from up and coming talents.
“I am especially pleased that we are hosting an event with the Stratford branch of Amnesty International where the audience will be encouraged to send a postcard in support of a prisoner of conscience on the night. We look forward to welcoming people from near and far to enjoy this fantastic celebration of poetry in the hometown of one of the greatest poets of all.”
Visit www.shakespeare.org.uk/poetry-festival for the full programme and to book tickets.