Nottingham Poetry Festival 2018

by Alex Burroughes

Since 2016 the Nottingham Poetry Festival has been a massive success and now in its third year, the line-up for this year’s festival looks fantastic. The wonderful festival starts on the 20th of April and will last 10 days with a preview happening on the 5th of April. A whole host of writers and poets will be performing throughout the 10 days as they look to inspire and entertain the populace of Nottinghamshire.

Many of Nottingham’s beloved venues will play host to over 50 events that will happen throughout the 10 days. Henry Normal will also be touring around several Nottinghamshire libraries with special guests during the festival. This year’s festival promises to be fabulous so to make things easier for you we have compiled a list of every show that is happening during the festival.

Before the Festival

Nottingham Poetry Festival Preview

A preview of the 2018 festival featuring poets from local poetry groups. Located in the gorgeous Fox And Grapes pub at the bottom of Sneinton Market

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Welcome to the Festival with Henry Normal & Friends

Poetry, fun and insider information. Pete Ramskill, Leanne Moden, Kev Fegan, Michelle Hubbard and Georgina Wilding all join Henry to welcome you to the festival on opening night. Plus surprise guests.


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Saturday 21st April

Women Got Poetic Talent

A woman-powered evening of spoken word and live, original music in aid of local charity Women’s Aid Integrated Services (WAIS), there will also be a raffle.

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There Are No Photographs: Book Launch

Raise a glass with poetry friends and family, as local publishers Big White Shed, launch Anne Holloway’s first collection.

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Poetry Hour with Henry Normal- Mansfield

The second library visit of the day takes Henry and Kev up the A60 to Mansfield. As with all Library dates, audience member are invited to bring along a poem to read.

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Poets Against Racism

Poets against Racism have developed workshops for young people and children to help explore poetry writing and performing whilst supporting a number of national campaigns involved with helping refugees, migrants and victims of racism and Islamophobic violence. The daytime event will comprise of a poetry workshop followed by a live event in the evening which will allow attendees the chance to perform alongside established poets. Both events will be hosted by Manjit Sahota.

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Rhyme and Rebeliion: Poetry Workshop

Join poet Leanne Moden for a workshop using constrained writing techniques to ignite your creative inspiration. Explore form, function and rule-breaking to revitalise your poetry!

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Lost Nottingham

The launch of a fascinating poetic and illustrative project curated by local comic artist and poet, Shaun Belcher. Unearthing some of the forgotten secrets of people and places in Nottingham, ranging from Charlie Chaplin in Carrington to Motown stars. There’s a lot to discover and the project runs throughout the festival with readings and discussion on 21st and 28th.

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Well-Dressed Verse

Nottingham Fashion Fortnight mixes with the Poetry Festival as spoken word pops up amongst market stalls and street food sellers, and in the bar.

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Young Producers Presents

Create your own personal poetry book. Full day of workshops covering: writing, printmaking and book binding. Pick one skill or combine all three. Materials included.

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Wildlife Trust #youthquake word mash-up

Can your words help nature? Led by poet, Aly Stoneman, this fun workshop for 13-25 year olds, invites you to create your own campaign haikus, word mash-ups and street photography!

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Poetry Hour with Henry Normal

Henry begins his tour of Nottinghamshire libraries and will be accompanied by Kev Fegan, described as “Britain’s most innovative playwright”. Audience members are invited to bring a poem along to read.

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Joolz Denby, Panya Banjoko & Sophie Sparham

The multiple award winning Joolz Denby’s work is featured in teaching aids for schools, notably Michael Rosen’s ‘Why Poetry? She has performed at five Edinburgh Festivals and 25 Glastonbury Festival. She is an experienced broadcaster, novelist and has also released albums of her poetry set to music by Jah Wobble, Justin Sullivan, Mik Davis and her latest album, Crow, with renowned German composer Henning Nuge.

Panya Banjoko is an established writer and performance poet with work broadcast on both television and radio. Panya won the 2008 Black Women in the Arts Poetry Award in London. It has been said of her work, ‘…What you get when listening to Panya is a profound sense of listening to a teacher. Her poetry is hip-hop energy fused with a hymnal element. Her trademark is a penchant for grand themes in small sentences. There’s lots of shrewd thought but its poetry we can all grasp without the need to constantly hit the rewind button.’ Sable Magazine

Sophie Sparham is a spoken word artist and writer based in Derby. Her work has been featured in the People’s History Museum and UK Young Artists Festival. Her poetry mainly focuses on political and social subjects, such as depression, LGBT+ and feminism. Sophie’s debut poetry collection ‘Please Mind the Gap’ is available now and features a foreword from Benjamin Zephaniah.

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Sunday 22nd April

Nottingham Poetry Festival and Waterstones Present Jackie Kay & Milla Tebbs

One of the most influential and adored wordsmiths of recent times, Jackie Kay was born and brought up in Scotland. She has received multiple nominations and awards for her work, was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2002 and awarded an MBE in 2006. Her short stories have been described by The Guardian as ‘ranking among the best of the genre’.

Jackie was named Scots Makar, the National Poet for Scotland in March 2016 and her “Desert Island Discs” broadcast on BBC Radio 4 during October of the same year, was a moving and fascinating insight of her life and career, describing the complexity of poetry as giving “a voice, to the voiceless”.

Jackie will be supported by local poet, Milla Tebbs who is widely admired for her honest opinions, and brilliant poems.

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Five Leaves Bookshop Presents: William Sieghart, The Poetry Pharmacy and Q&A

William Sieghart CBE, author of The Poetry Pharmacy and founder of National Poetry Day, will prescribe you the perfect poem — wise words of advice to give comfort, delight and inspiration. Whether you might be worried about family strife, old age, or rocky relationships; suffering from loss of a zest for life, insecurity or mistakes made; as well as grief, divorce or heartbreak, he will find you something here to carry you forward and ease your pain. William has had a distinguished career in publishing and the arts. He established the Forward Prizes for Poetry in 1992, and founded National Poetry Day in 1994.

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Spoken World

Calling all little poets, explorers and creatives! Come and join us for the day as we explore our wonderful world of words. We invite you to an afternoon of discovering the world we live in through poetry, arts & crafts, performances, music and creating — and lots of fun! The event will be hosted by acting coach and children’s creative outlet facilitator, Natalia Bruce.

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Monday 23rd April

Willis the Poet’s Comedy Extravaganza

Willis the Poet presents an evening of spoken word wizardy from some of the funniest poets he knows — laugh til you drop…

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An energetic and welcoming open mic event featuring Jim Sharpe and Kaia Hristova as joint headliners with Tyrell Peters and Özde Özinanır as featured poets.

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Poetry Hour with Henry Normal- Newark

Henry continues his tour of Nottinghamshire libraries visiting Newark, accompanied by Michelle ‘mother’ Hubbard. Michelle is a performance poet, storyteller, script writer, African drummer, cultural arts practitioner, workshop facilitator, and founding member of spoken word open mic event, BlackDrop. Audience members are again invited to bring a poem along to read.

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Big White Shed: Meet the Poets

Drop-in and meet the poets from The Big White Shed, hear a few poems, have a chat about their process, their plans and their inspiration.

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Sit Down with the Social Model Writers

Join Nottingham’s Social Model Writers, a group of disabled and non-disabled writers, for a special lunchtime sharing session. Featuring poems, stories and a Q & A.

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Tuesday 24th April

Big White Shed: Meet The Poets

Day 2 of The Big White Shed get together. Pop along and meet the poets from one of Nottingham’s finest independent publishers.

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Poetry is Dead Good Featuring Mark Grist

Poetry is Dead Good, Nottingham’s longest running city centre poetry night brings you one of the biggest names in UK spoken word, Mark Grist, alongside great support acts and an open mic!

Mark Grist is a poet and educator who sprung to international fame as the English teacher who turned out to be a Battle Rap sensation

Mark is now one biggest names in UK Spoken Word

At this year’s festival, he will headline Poetry is Dead Good #42 with Mark Grist at Castle Rock Brewery‘s Fox & Grapes located at the bottom of Sneinton market.

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Wednesday 25th April

Speak Up!

Three headliners, an open mic, a theme of speaking up about social problems, conversations and probably some juggling.

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Hollie McNish & Cleo Asabre-Ho

With Benjamin Zephaniah stating ‘I can’t take my ears off her’, Kate Tempest describing her poetry as ‘welcoming, galvanising and beautiful’ and fans ranging from Robin Ince, Pink, Tim Minchen, to most of the UK’s midwives, Ted Hughes Award winner Hollie McNish is a poet whose readings are not to be missed. She is an Arts Foundation Fellow in Spoken Word, has garnered over seven million YouTube views for her online poetry performances and was the first poet to record at London’s famed Abbey Road Studios. Here, she will be joining us to perform poems, read from and chat honestly and openly from her new collection, PLUM, as well as performing some favourites from previous books.

Hollie will be supported by fantastic Nottingham Spoken Word Poet poet, Cleo Asabre-Holt. Unafraid to tackle vulnerable issues such as mental illness and societal discomfort Cleo was recently awarded the prestigious M3C Scholarship to undertake a Masters in Creative Writing at The University of Nottingham.

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Sexy Poems

Poetry Aloud presents An evening of Sexy Poetry featuring: Di Slaney, Wayne Burrows, Leanne Moden and Rich Goodson, plus the poems of the poets drawn in the open mic, sexy draws.

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How To Get Your Poetry Published

How do you go from a few scribbled lines to a poetry collection? Join publisher, Teika Bellamy, who will demystify the publishing process and share insider information.

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Poetry Hour with Henry Normal- Beeston

Henry is joined by his old friend Pete Ramskill. Pete is a brilliant poet, artist, sculptor and designer, a man of many talents! Pop in and join them for an entertaining hour of poetry and bring along a poem of your own to read.

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Big White Shed: Meet The Poets

Drop-in and meet the poets from The Big White Shed, hear a few poems, have a chat, about their process, their plans and their inspiration.

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Broadway Cinema Present A Quiet Passion + My Letter to The World + Q&A

An opportunity to see Terence Davies’s deeply moving biopic of poet Emily Dickinson played with virtuosity by Cynthia Nixon. This will be followed at 7pm by Emily Dickinson: My Letter to the World. From the producers of A Quiet Passion, this documentary is an in-depth examination of the life and work of America’s greatest female poet. In it, renowned scholars help unravel the enigma of Emily Dickinson.

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Totally Wired

Nottingham Poetry Factory is a special Totally Wired event where we take back the means of poetry production. Shop-stewarded by poets, we share our creative resources, cake resilience, crafty red-supping while writing a series of collaborative poems to share freely with the poetry proletariat on the night. Also featuring music from our resident house band, Francesca Cullen, with feature artists Rich Goodson and Aly Stoneman. Everyone welcome.

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Thursday 26th April

Speech Therapy

Speech Therapy is a spoken word night with an emphasis on entertainment, poetry, music and comedy that has something to say. Hosted by Miggy Angel this Poetry Festival special features the Finest Punk Poet in the North, Simon Widdop, regular performers and open mic spots. Pop along, enjoy the poetry, sign up to perform, enjoy the music, enjoy the party.

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LeftLion Presents: WriteLion Poets

A sparkling evening of words from Notts poets celebrating wildlife and the natural world in Nottingham and further afield, with Jo Dixon, Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, and more. Hosted by LeftLion’s Poetry Editor, Aly Stoneman, the night will include an open mic segment.

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Women Got Talent Fundraiser

A woman-powered evening of talented, local performers: Live music, stand-up comedy, animation and spoken word. In aid of Nottingham Women’s Centre. The venue has disabled access to rear of venue on North Sherwood Street. Call organiser, Sarah, or contact venue direct to let them know if access is required. Fully licensed bar.

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Poetry Hour with Henry Normal – Evening Reading

Andrew Graves accompanies Henry for library date number two of the day, this time they visit, Worksop.

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From Page to Stage

An evening of poetry and spoken word performance, showcasing the work of writers who have participated in a masterclass series lead by Nottingham Black Archive co-founder Panya Banjoko.

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Big White Shed: Meet The Poets

Day four of the Big White Shed publisher and poet get together. This is a drop in event, no need to arrive on time or stay for the whole time, all we ask is that people contribute £2. Each night of the week there will be two or three poets to meet.

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Poetry Hour with Henry Normal – Daytime Reading

Cited as “The hardest working poet in the East Midlands”, Andrew Graves delivers poignant, hard hitting and socially conscious performance poetry. His 2015 “God Save The Teen” was shortlisted for a Saboteur Award and toured nationally to great acclaim. A troubled poet for troubled times, don’t miss Andrew and Henry on the same bill, and please do bring along a poem of your own to read.

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Friday 27th April

DIY Poets Present

Local bards DIY Poets at Nottingham Poetry Festival featuring open mic and the launch of Andrew Martin’s first book, Echoes of My Mind.

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Elvis Mcgonnagal, Stephen Thomas & Bridie Squires

Elvis is a World Slam Champion, the compere of the notorious Blue Suede Sporran Club and a guest of BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live. Serving up some wonderfully acerbic left-wing verse, stand-up poet Elvis McGonagall delivers his views on all things topical. From Cameron, Osborne and Merkel, to hipsters, talent shows and the Queen, no one is safe from his rhymes. Support comes from Stephen Thomas, performance poet and rapper who is half German and half Yorkshire, so you can be sure that he’s extremely efficient with words and has very tight rhyming patterns. Also supporting is Bridie Squires, spoken word poet, Editor of LeftLion Magazine Nottingham and undefeated acapella rap battler. A Mouthy Poets alumnus, she’s honed her craft in the belly of Nottingham and wears the badge of “Professional Gobshite” with honour. Expect poems about birds, home, bikes, and casinos.

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Poetry Hour with Henry Normal- Southwell

Pete Ramskill rejoins the tour, this time at Southwell Library for another hour of brilliant poetry.

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Poets in the Big White Shed

An evening of poetry hosted by Anne Holloway of Big White Shed, Nottingham’s enabling organisation and peer publishing house, featuring some of their favourite poets from the region.

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Poetry on a Plate – Poetry Workshop hosted by Cathy Grindrod

Hunger for poetry? Thirst for meeting other poets? Come along and enjoy reading and writing poetry on the theme of food and drink in this supportive workshop. Cathy is an award-winning Derbyshire writer, formerly Derbyshire Poet Laureate, and author of five published poetry collections.

Separate to this workshop and as a special offer for Nottingham Poetry Festival, Cathy is offering some free hour-long coaching sessions for any poetry writers who would like to talk about their work or seek advice about anything poetry-related. The Writer Highway is a programme of support for writers, which involves mentoring, coaching and supportive feedback on writing. To be considered, all you have to do is tell Cathy why you would like the session, and she will select the most persuasive poets!

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Saturday 28th April

Muslim Artists and Poets Collective

The Muslim Artists and Poets Collective is a hub for Muslim creatives.
All are invited to attend and enjoy poetry and stories by people of Muslim faith. This is the first event of it’s kind in Nottingham, come and see history being made.

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Words and Music

DIY Poets and CoMA East Midlands present a vibrant performance of works written by local poets for musical manifestations. Following the successful partnership which performed as part of the National Contemporary Music for All festival 2018, DIY poets are teaming up again with CoMA Contemporary Music for All) East Midlands to bring you an afternoon to experience Words and Music.

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Nottingham Poetry Society – Annual Slam

A slam poetry competition with cash prizes over two rounds. The first 20 to sign up take part so arrive in good time. The event will be judged by Leanne Moden, poet and convenor of Crosswords Open Mic event.

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Kavya Rang

A traditional Indian poetry recital where audience interaction is encouraged, promising that it will be a lively affair. Always a joyous event, if you haven’t been before it is highly recommended.

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Lost Nottingham: Open Mic

The second event featuring readings born from the lost Nottingham Project. There’s a lot of Lost Nottingham to discover….

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Poetry Hour with Henry Normal- Stapleford

Henry will be Joined by Leanne Moden, poet, performer, workshop leader and event organiser. Leanne began performing stand-up poetry in 2010 and is now a feature at club nights, poetry slams and music festivals across the UK. Recent sets include WOMAD Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe and Bestival. Leanne was crowned Fenland Poet Laureate in 2013 and is now part of the team at UNESCO Nottingham City of Literature.

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Sunday 29th April

World Jam : Sounds like Home

World Jam (formerly known as Word Jam) presents an evening of global music and poetry. All are welcome. Children must be supervised at all times.

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Roger McGough, Gregory Woods & Georgina Wilding

Hilarious and surreal, McGough is a poet of many voices. His latest book It Never Rains is a collection of new verses with drawings by the author. President of the Poetry Society, he has been honoured with a CBE for services to literature and the Freedom of the City of Liverpool. He presents the long-running Poetry Please. This event’s first half hour will feature special guests Henry Normal, Georgina Wilding and Gregory Woods.

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World Jam: Sounds Like Home Workshop

Workshop for speakers of all languages. We will explore what ‘home’ sounds like and collaborate to create multi-lingual poems. There will be an opportunity to share the poems during the evening session,. World Jam: Sounds Like Home.

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Spring Writing: Beginners Poetry Workshop

Want to try your hand at writing poetry ? Feeling creative and inspired but struggling to put the words to paper ? Let the talented Fiona Theokritoff help you transform your words into a beautiful poem at our 1 day workshop. Inspired by the magic of nature Fiona takes a straightforward approach to writing her poems and will guide you through a simple process of observation and writing, after a lovely walk through Hanwells vineyards.

The workshop includes a light handmade lunch with a glass of local wine and you will leave at the end of the day with several different poems.

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Young Producers presents: Word Play

An evening of experimental poetry, showcasing word based art and performance. Includes Open Mic. Cash only bar.

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Austerity Café – A Pop Up Political Musical

Join Yannis, and customers, as he serves up his unique, half-cooked philosophies. Chopped up opinions are thrown into a sizzling pan of stewed beliefs. Enjoy!

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