Some British towns seem better suited to literary festivals than others, and Ledbury in Herefordshire is ideal – with reams of streets and architecture that the word ‘picturesque’ could have been invented for. This year, Ledbury’s annual Poetry Festival is from 30th June – 9th July, and boasts the tag-line ‘inclusive, international, inspiring.’
With online and weekend-only options, there’s a full schedule of readings, art, workshops, conversations, music, open mics, and even a wild swim, with luminaries including Michael Morpurgo, Alycia Pirmohamed and Nina Mingya Powles, Preti Taneja and Zaffar Kunia, Maya C. Popa and Matthew Hollis, as well as Nasser Hussain examining joy as a process for writing poetry. There will also be readings and celebrations of classic and lesser known historic poets with a ‘Dead Poets Society’ series.
I love the idea of the Poetry Passeggiata at 5.15pm on Friday 30th June (St Michael’s and All Angels Church Courtyard, free), which revels in the Italian tradition of stepping out to enjoy people-watching in golden evening light, and adds the magic of poets sharing morsels of works in progress. The organisers say: “Ledbury may not have a piazza, but the stone of the church will be bathed in a rosy glow, and all are welcome to join us in the courtyard.”
Ledbury Poetry Competition 2023 is open for entries.
The closing date is 10th July 2023. Each entry costs £6.
This year’s judge is Philip Gross. Philip has published 27 collections for adults and for young people over 40 years of publication. He won the T.S. Eliot in 2009, a Cholmondeley Award in 2017, and is a keen collaborator, e.g. with Lesley Saunders on A Part of the Main (Mulfran, 2018), with scientists on the young people’s collection Dark Sky Park (Otter-Barry, 2018) and with artist Valerie Coffin Price and Welsh-language poet Cyril Jones on Troeon/Turnings (Seren, 2021). His latest, The Thirteenth Angel (Bloodaxe, 2022), a PBS Recommendation, was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize.
When asked what he’s looking for from submissions, Philip Gross says: “Poems that aren’t whatever I might think I’m looking for. Poems intent on being wholly, intensely themselves, regardless of what a judge, the zeitgeist or even their author might want them to be. Poems that have to be poems because they couldn’t be expressed in any other way.”
The first prize for the competition is £1,000 cash and a week-long partnership Arvon poetry course. Second Prize is £500. Third Prize is £250.
Winners will be invited to perform their work at Ledbury Poetry Festival 2024.
The image at the very top of this post was kindly supplied by John Eager of www.visitledbury.info.
Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw attention to? Send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud (dot) com.