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“Cheltenham Poetry Festival is a triumph!” - Alison Brackenbury Eagle-eyed readers of this brochure may notice we have gone green this year – in terms of our logo and our programming. Our branding is green. This is partly to commemorate the Festival’s birthday. It’s five years since the Festival’s launch, when we used this colour for the first time. Since 2011, we’ve brought hundreds of internationally acclaimed poets and performers to Cheltenham, as well as showcasing some seriously good local talent. The colour of our logo also reflects this year’s overarching theme – the environment and the natural world. ‘Green’ highlights include a reading, sponsored by The Campaign to Protect Rural England (Gloucestershire), by one of our greatest living poets Sean O’Brien. He is joined by environmental poet Michael McKimm. We are also launching Dear World - a new booklet from the Cheltenham Poetry Festival’s publishing arm (Frosted Fire Press) featuring poems by

some of the poets reading at the Festival. We delighted to welcome Christopher Somerville (Walking Correspondent for The Telegraph for 17 years) and Adam Horovitz – both of whom have local connections – as well as David Morley. Other highlights include: the Festival’s (and Carol Ann Duffy’s) favourite poetry band Little Machine; a galaxy of acclaimed poets such as Claire Trévien, Tim Liardet, Martyn Crucefix, Stephen James, Charles Bennett, Jo Bell, Adam Wyeth, Wendy Klein and many more, plus showcases from prestigious publishing houses and a host of distinguished local writers; bands; comedy; freestyle from Martin Daws; hip hop from Petra Vita; children’s poetry shows and much more! Whether you’d like to share a poem at an Open Mic or simply sit back and enjoy some fine performances, we welcome you to Cheltenham Poetry Festival 2015. Best wishes, Anna, Robin, Ross and the CPF team.

BOOKING DETAILS As some of our events are in intimate venues with limited tickets on offer, we suggest you buy your tickets in advance. For most events, tickets may be booked from the Cheltenham Town Hall Booking Office online at: www.cheltenhamtownhall.org.uk or via the Tickets Hotline 0844 576 2210. Alternatively, visit www.cheltenhampoetryfest.co.uk which has a link to the Town Hall Booking Office. Please note, booking for events at The Wilson Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum and at the Playhouse and Everyman Theatres is through their respective booking offices, not the Town Hall:


01242 237431



01242 522852



01242 572573


Especially for events held in intimate venues with limited tickets on offer or at theatre venues, it is advisable to buy your tickets in advance in order to avoid disappointment.


For bookings call 0844 576 2210 or visit www.cheltenhamtownhall.org.uk

MONDAY APRIL 20 Cheltenham Poetry Festival Youth Slam! 7pm-9pm, Cheltenham Town Hall, £5 Watch teams of budding poets from schools across the county go head to head in a high-energy battle of rhyme and reason! Hosted by Spoz.

WEDNESDAY APRIL 22 Cheltenham Poetry Festival Launch Event Phil Bowen’s All the Stuff plus Joy Amy Wigman and open mic 6pm-7.30pm, Smokey Joes, £7/4 All The Stuff is a Beckett-esque, fast and furious performance piece that has been described as “The Waste Land of the twenty-first century” (Dave Woolley) and “a work of genius” by John Cooper Clarke. Joy- Amy Wigman will also be sharing some 50’s songs and there will be poetry from Rick Vick. It’s also your chance to read at the festival. Why not share your work at our launch event? We welcome your poetry and short prose for our open mic.

Cheltenham Improvisers Orchestra

Hear and Now - An Aural Adventure in Poetry and Music 8pm-9pm, Hardwick Campus, £5 Join the Cheltenham Improvisers Orchestra as they create an un-scored accompaniment to a series of poems inspired by “sound” and read by the poets themselves. This is a unique collaboration of music and poetry where anything can happen next.

FRIDAY, APRIL 24 Ben Norris & Lily Blacksell 7pm-8pm, The Wilson, £7/5 The “wonderful” (BBC Radio 3) and “bold, funny, musical and confident” (Julia Bird) Ben Norris is an actor, spoken-word artist and former UK All-Stars Poetry Slam Champion. Ben’s debut poetry pamphlet was published in summer 2014 by Nasty Little Press, and he’s been described as “a really exciting poet... one to watch” by Luke Wright. Ben is joined by Lily Blacksell, a rising star on the spoken word scene, who fuses lyrically inventive writing with powerful performances. Sponsored by Oldham Foundation. Little Machine 8.30pm-10pm, The Wilson, £10/7 Get ready to boogie along to the bards with Little Machine –“The most brilliant music and poetry band I’ve seen in decades” (Carol Ann Duffy.) Little Machine will make you fall in love with poetry all over again with their blistering rock, folk, punk and pop renditions of classic and contemporary poems. “They sing, strum, beat, get you tapping your feet, make you laugh and break your heart. I swear the Bard himself has joined this band” Gillian Clarke. Sponsored by Oldham Foundation.

Little Machine

For bookings call 0844 576 2210 or visit www.cheltenhamtownhall.org.uk


SATURDAY APRIL 25 Cinnamon Press: Writing the Road Cathy Whittaker & Connie Ramsay Bott 11am-12 midday, Oxfam, £6/4 Two poets, one American and one Brit, took a writing trip to America. The result was a collaborative collection of poems seen through their different perspectives. Cathy Whittaker & Connie Ramsay Bott will read poems from this collection, published in a Cinnamon Press anthology. Both have been widely published in anthologies and independent journals. Martyn Crucefix & Olivia Byard 1pm-2pm, Oxfam, £6/4 Martyn Crucefix is considered to be one of our most important living poets. He has published five collections of poetry and his translation of Rilke’s Duino Elegies was hailed as “unlikely to be bettered for very many years” (Magma). Martyn will be reading from his new Worple Press title – A Hatfield Mass. Olivia Byard’s poetry has been described as “fine-hewn, often funny, sometimes devastating”, “full of sidelong looks at life”. Her latest collection The Wilding Eye, New and Selected Poems (2015) is also from the Worple Press. The Other Side of Sleep 2.30pm-3.30pm, Oxfam, £6/4 The Other Side of Sleep is an anthology that brings together award-winning and first-time poets to explore the narrative poem in all its diversity, glory and length. This exciting event includes readings from contributors Kate Foley, Angela France, Bernie Howley, Jennifer A McGowan, Jeremy Dixon and Editor Cherry Potts and a talk about the book and how it came about. The Minotaur is Not a Monster – Myra Schneider & Anna Saunders Plus the launch of Dear World 4pm-5.15 pm, Oxfam, £7/4 Step into the labyrinth where poets Myra Schneider (“emotionally vulnerable, richly allusive poetry”– Jane Holland) and Anna Saunders (“a poet of quite exceptional gifts” – Bernard O’Donoghue), will share poetry inspired by myth, legend and surrealism. The event also includes the launch of Dear World - a collection of poems on environmental themes and the natural world published by the Festival’s Frosted Fire Press and featuring the work of many of the poets reading at the Festival.

Ben Parker


New Voices - Ben Parker & Aled Thomas 6pm-7pm, Smokey Joe’s, £6/4 Those intimate blacks and reds / like crumpled flowers, lying where they fell. Ben Parker is one to watch. His debut pamphlet, The Escape Artists, (Tall Lighthouse) has been described as “a very fine and sharp first collection” (George Szirtes). Aled Thomas’s poetry blends a journalistically acute eye for detail with wry humour. Aled has been writing poetry for 30 years and also works on The Gloucestershire Echo as News Reporter and Columnist.

For bookings call 0844 576 2210 or visit www.cheltenhamtownhall.org.uk

SATURDAY APRIL 25 The Contradictions of Flesh - Sonia Hendy-Isaac & Clare Ferguson-Walker 7.30pm-8.30pm, Smokey Joe’s, £7/5 Sonia Hendy-Isaac’s debut collection The Contradictions of Flesh explores the flinty and fluid boundaries of bodily experience and of contemporary life, the gaps between what is said and unsaid. It’s been described as “fiercely sensual, shamelessly witty, drunk with life” (Alison Brackenbury) and as “erotic and playful” (Maggie Butt). Spoken word star, poet and comedian Claire Ferguson-Walker has won nearly every slam she’s ever entered. She has performed with London-based outfit Tongue Fu and described as “absurdly talented” by Phil Jupitus.

Martin Daws

Hip Hop & Freestyle Cabaret - Martin Daws & Petra Vita + open mic 9pm – 10pm, Smokey Joe’s, £7/4 An outstanding spoken word poet whose live sets blend free musicality and innovative lyricism Martin Daws is a double Farrago Slam Champ and a favourite at festivals in the UK. A collaboration between poet/vocalist Brandon Landis and guitarist Ben Easey, Cheltenham-based Petra Vita fuse spoken word poetry and hip hop narratives with backing tracks and live guitar, with a little off-the-cuff wordplay, and self-deprecating humour thrown in. The night includes an open mic – come and share your poetry, short prose or music.

SUNDAY APRIL 26 Motherʼs Milk – Teika Bellamy, Sarah James, Angela Topping 11am-12 midday, Playhouse Theatre Lounge, £6/4 Two prize-winning poets - Sarah James and Angela Topping - have joined forces in the first of a new series of poetry duets being published by Mother’s Milk Books. Sarah and Angela will be joined by Dr Teika Bellamy of Mother’s Milk for a Q&A session, where the focus of the discussion will be how, as mothers, we can best meet the demands of family life whilst still pursuing our own creative projects. David Morley & Adam Horovitz 1pm-2pm, Playhouse Theatre Lounge, £7/4 David Morley is one of Britain’s most original and exciting poets. Known for his energy and linguistic inventiveness, he is a master storyteller, whose poems uncover “universes bound together by language” (The Guardian). David is joined by Adam Horovitz, whose breathtakingly lyrical poetry has gained him critical acclaim and fans, who include Radio 4’s Cerys Matthews. Ted Hughes

Black Silent Waters: Ted Hughes as Artistic Father – a talk 2.30pm-3.30pm, Playhouse Theatre Lounge, £7/4 Tim Liardet learned from Ted Hughes that a poet’s primary concern is the creation of an epic universe. He will talk about his first encounter with Hughes’s work and the profound influence it had on his development as a poet. This talk will include the elegy he wrote when Hughes died in 1998.

For bookings call 0844 576 2210 or visit www.cheltenhamtownhall.org.uk


SUNDAY APRIL 26 Tim Liardet & Maurice Spillaine 4pm-5pm, Playhouse Theatre Lounge, £7/4 Trouble is with inventing a language, brother,/when the only other person in the world who speaks it dies/ you’re left speaking to no one – Tim Liardet, Slant Rain. Tim Liardet is one of our most prolific and acclaimed writers. His work has been described as “superb” by Poetry Review and “bestowed with a sort of grace” (The Guardian). His collection A Priest Skear has been described as “a memorable masterpiece” (Agenda). Maurice Spillane, who hails from Dublin and now lives in Swindon, writes enchanting, poignant and lyrical poetry. The Cost of Keys Sue Rose & Louise Crossley 6pm-7pm, The Strand, £7/4 Sue Rose is a poet of breathtaking range and skill. Her deeply human and finely crafted work looks life, and death, in the eye, without flinching. Her latest collection The Cost of Keys delves into memory and includes evocative and beautiful sonnets with themes as diverse as the nature of a sick heart, the finality of menopause and the damage of volcanic explosions. Louise Crossley is a member of the BlueGate Poets; she has a rich, complex voice with a contemporary energy. A powerful poetry pairing.

Charles Bennett

Sue Rose

Christopher Somerville & Charles Bennett 7.30pm-8.30pm, The Strand, £6/4 Let two writers take you on a journey. Christopher Somerville - The Times and now The Telegraph’s Walking Correspondent. The author of 40 books on people, landscape and history plus two collections of poetry - Extraordinary Flight (Rockingham Press) and Greenwood Dark (Haus) - both full of fascinating folk stories, legends and rural lore. Charles Bennett - an awardwinning writer whose poetry has been described as brimming over with startling voices, arresting images and an indefatigable “joie de vivre”.

Monuments - Jay Ramsay, Jehanne Mehta & Gabriel Bradford Millar Sunday 9pm-10pm, The Strand, £7/4 We welcome back Jay Ramsay with his acclaimed collection Monuments (Waterloo Press, 2014), and with him Gabriel Bradford Millar, her “rare, gem-like poetry” in The Saving Flame praised by both Seamus Heaney and Sharon Olds. Also the exquisite songwriter and poet Jehanne Mehta, one of the outstanding lyricists of her generation with various albums (Green Jack, Emblem); who will also sing with guitar - and violin from her husband Rob.


Sarah Snell Pym


Muse Monsters - A Poetry Workshop for Children 11:30am-12:30pm, Tailors, £5 per child (parents free) Sarah Snell Pym, aka Saffy, The Purple Poet, leads this innovative workshop in which pictures of monsters are used to inspire poetry! Suitable for all ages.

For bookings call 0844 576 2210 or visit www.cheltenhamtownhall.org.uk

MONDAY APRIL 27 Jennie Farley & Eley Furrell 1.30pm-2:30pm Tailors, £6/4 Eley Furrell is a slam champion and a charismatic performer of work that is expressive, muscular, contemporary. Jennie Farley’s work has been described as “richly imaginative, idiosyncratic and sensual.” Her reading will include some new poems from Jocasta’s Song, a sequence featuring mythical women with a feminist twist. Ever So – a Poetry Reading and Workshop for Children with Julie Fulton 4pm – 5pm. Tailors, £5 per child, parents free Julie Fulton is a children’s writer and creator of the popular ‘Ever So’ series of rhyming picture books, which feature quirky and loveable characters such as Daniel O’Dowd who is “ever so loud”. Julie will be reading some of her rhyming stories, sharing her favourite poems and leading everyone in the chance to create either a group poem or one of their very own! Suitable for ages 5 -10.

Jo Bell

Nine Arches: - Jo Bell & Robert Peake 6pm-7pm, Strand, £6/4 Robert Peake is a British-American poet living near London. His work has been praise for its “beauty, restraint and honesty”. “One of the most exciting poets now writing” according to Carol Ann Duffy, Jo Bell - archaeologist, boat dweller and erstwhile Director of National Poetry Day - writes poetry which is lyrical, joyous, precise and clear as birdsong. Her new collection Kith interweaves questions of place, identity and community with the themes of love, sex, boats and friendship.

Ruth OʼCallaghan & Karen Eberhardt-Shelton 7.30pm - 8.30pm, Strand, £6/4 Ruth O’Callaghan holds the prestigious Hawthornden Fellowship and is a prize-winner in international competitions. Translated into six languages, she has read world-wide, including Asia and Europe. Her first two collections Where Acid has Etched and A Lope of Time have completely sold out. Californianborn Karen Eberhardt-Shelton has written two books of poetry and has been published in newspapers ranging from The New York Times to Poetry Australia, with an ongoing variety of freelance work appearing in magazines, newspapers and poetry publications. Chloe Lees

Scheherazade’s Shed - storytelling with Chloe 9pm-10pm, Joan Cross Room, The Playhouse Theatre, £7/4 They say every man needs a shed – but Chloe kicks off her sparkly slippers in a boudoir to tell stories from the comfort of her chaise lounge. Chloe of the Midnight Storytellers goes way beyond ordinary storyteller repertoire: with true-life tales that merge into magical realism, her stories are lyrical and packed with powerful emotions. Bittersweet and highly entertaining. For age 16+ only.

For bookings call 0844 576 2210 or visit www.cheltenhamtownhall.org.uk


TUESDAY APRIL 28 Easter poetry and Music Workshop with Zaphira Cormack 11.30am-12.30pm, Tailors, £7 per family Do you like rabbits? Chicks? Biscuits? Playing with water? Music and dance? Then this is the workshop for you! We have lots of rabbit songs, dances and games up our sleeves, Easter poetry that will make you roar with laughter, craft activities including wet-felting-egg-making and Easter biscuit decorating to take home and snacks to enjoy after all that happy jumping about. Activities are aimed at ages 18 months -5 years, but all the family are welcome.

Rosie Jackson -The Poetry of Art Workshop 1:30pm-3:30pm Tailors, £15 Numerous poets, such as W.H.Auden and U.A.Fanthorpe, have used paintings as starting points for poems. Now it’s your chance to be inspired by art. Drawing on exciting contemporary examples to spark ideas, we will explore different ways `into’ the art work, and draft poems inspired by a wide range of paintings. Rosie Jackson has led writing workshops inspired by art at the V&A in London, the Black Swan Gallery Frome and the Bridport Arts Centre. Only 12 places are available on this workshop, so please book early. The Voice of the Wild - Ann Segrave and Robin Gilbert 7pm-8pm, The Muffin Man, £7/4 Two poets who are inspired by the natural world and landscape share lyrical and beautifully crafted work. Ann Segrave lives in Lewes, in the heart of the South Downs which inspires much of her latest collection Persimmon. Her work is full of observation, charm, humour and intelligence. Ann is joined by Festival co-Director Robin Gilbert (“a fine poet with an understanding of, and affinity for, the English countryside” - Angela France).

Miles Salter


Animals – Miles Salter and Rosie Jackson 8.30pm-9.30pm, The Muffin Man, £7/4 A lion attends confession, a woman sleeps with a python, a giraffe walks into a bar… Miles Salter’s much-anticipated second collection is a mixture of surreal, dark comedy and piercing observation, taking inspiration from the natural world and the “most dangerous animal of all” – the human being. Rosie Jackson’s poetry is passionate, heartfelt, full of dazzling imagery. Her subjects include Leonard Woolf, Orpheus, the lost souls and even a (repentant) Thatcher.

For bookings call 0844 576 2210 or visit www.cheltenhamtownhall.org.uk

WEDNESDAY APRIL 29 Tasting Words, Hearing Colours - Sue Johnson and Christine Whittemore 11.30am-12.30pm, Montpellier house, £6/4 Poet and tutor Sue Johnson’s first full collection of poetry Tasting Words, Hearing Colours (Indigo Dreams Publishing) is a journey into lexical-gustatory synaesthesia – Sue experiences some words and names as a taste! Christine Whittemore is a widely published poet whose work has been included in journals including The American Scholar, Hunger Mountain, Piedmont Literary Review, The Lyric and Orbis. Her work has won several awards in the US and the UK, including a Fellowship in Literature (Poetry) in 1998. Story Telling for Children Marilyn Timms & Gemma Knowles 1.30pm-2.30pm, Tailors, £5 per family Marilyn Timms is a Cheltenham-based poet, actor and playwright. Gemma Knowles writes enchanting illustrated stories for children. Please join us for an hour of story telling featuring Circus Boy, Poppy the Puppet, Adriane the Eight-Fingered Girl, Stick Man in a Doodles Downfall and many others! The Life & Times of John Betjeman Presented by John Gorman 4pm-5pm, Tailors, £7/5 John Betjeman achieved huge success during his lifetime, and continues to retain his ‘National Treasure’ status more than thirty years after his death. Betjeman is loved for his pitch perfect comic writing, his combination of eccentricity and Englishness. John Gorman achieved ‘Pop’ success with The Scaffold and cult TV success with Tiswas; other arrows in his quiver include comedy and poetry, and writing plays and musicals. Sponsored by The Oldham Foundation.

John Betjeman

Singing the Continents - Wendy Klein & Dorothy Yamamoto 6pm-7pm, Smokey Joe’s, £6/4 Sharp, edgy poet and story-teller Wendy Klein has been praised for the profound human insights of her poetry and its “bright sensual detail” (Orbis). Wendy joins Dorothy Yamamoto, (“a beautifully attuned ear..the assured touch of a confident and assured phrase-maker” - Don Paterson), for a live literature event which includes a series of poems based on a shared experience of growing up cross-culturally. “Several continents run richly in Wendy Klein’s blood and she maps and sings them powerfully for us” – Jane Draycott. Cheltenham Poetry Society 7.30pm-8.30m, Smokey Joe’s, £4/3 Cheltenham Poetry Society meets several times a month to write, read and workshop poetry. New members are always welcome. Join us for this showcase event at which members of the Society perform recent work on themes of the environment and the natural world. Chris Hemingway & Myfanwy Fox – Sarcasm and Stanzas plus open mic 9pm-10pm, Smokey Joe’s, £6/4 Poet and singer-songwriter Chris Hemingway knows that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but thinks it nudges the top ten for poetry. Myfanwy Fox manages “Fox Pops” for Malvern’s ConFab Cabaret and has read at poetry events including Ledbury Festival and as a Drag King at Swindon. This event feature poems focussing on sarcasm and other types of creative insincerity. Bring your own work, be it sarcastic or sincere, for the Open Mic.

For bookings call 0844 576 2210 or visit www.cheltenhamtownhall.org.uk



Olivia Cole

Adam Wyeth & Olivia Cole 11.30am-12.30pm, Tailors, £6/4 Rising star Adam Wyeth exploded onto the poetry scene with his first collection, described as “a debut of astonishing assurance” by Ailbhe Darcy. Since then he has been praised for his darkly romantic poetry. Poet Olivia Cole edits the quarterly culture and lifestyle supplement, Spectator Life, and writes a monthly books column for British GQ, where she is literary editor. Her first book of poetry, Restricted View, was published by Salt in 2009.

The Hidden World of Poetry Workshop with Adam Wyeth 1.30pm-3.00pm, Tailors, £15 In this unique workshop, you will be led by Adam Wyeth, “gifted commentator/close reader” (Seamus Heaney), to explore the power of Celtic Mythology and its relevance to modern poetry. Through close readings and discussions, you will discover how leading Irish poets subtly weave Celtic myth into their work for a 21st century audience. The participants will then be invited to compose their own pieces, discovering fresh techniques to use mythology in their own writing that will deepen and enhance it in unexpected ways. There are only 12 places available on this workshop, so please book early. Jean Atkin, Tricia Torrington and Bill Holloway 6pm-7pm, The Strand, £7/4 This race of meltwater, sweet talker, springs growth from the winter bed of the wood. A poet of great imaginative powers Jean Atkin “examines the detail of other lives and her own, holding, scrutinising and revealing them in deft, luminous imagery”. With award-winning poet and artist Tricia Torrington, author of the highly acclaimed The Opium Fish, (Flarestack), and local poet Bill Holloway, Jean shares poems about our relationship to the land, taking in myth, legends, modern life and historic events and wry insights into the human condition along the way.

Bureau of The Lost and Found with Michael Henry & Michael Newman 7.30pm-8.30pm, The Strand, £6/4 Two acclaimed Cheltenham-based poets share poems with themes including family history and personal narratives. Michael Henry “a meditative eye, an elegist’s gift” has published six collections of poems, and will be reading from his latest Bureau of the Lost and Found – an illuminating quest for identity, full of humanity and humour. Michael Newman is a member of Cheltenham Poetry Society and a prize-winning poet with many collections to his name; his work has been praised for its lyricism and acute psychological insight. Peter Wyton, Kathryn Alderman, Frances March 9pm-10pm, The Strand, £6/4 The reigning Festival Slam Champ, local and national legend Peter Wyton is a popular and prizewinning poet whose work is entertaining, erudite and original. His work has been read on BBC4’s ‘Poetry Please’ and ‘Something Understood’, and he appears regularly on BBC Radio Gloucestershire as the Breakfast Bard and in the monthly Cotswold Life magazine. He is joined by Kathryn Alderman and Frances March – two Gloucestershire actor/poets with very different, but equally entertaining, voices.


For bookings call 0844 576 2210 or visit www.cheltenhamtownhall.org.uk

FRIDAY MAY 1 Kevan Manwaring - Myth, magic and the Creative Muse 11am-12midday, The Everyman Studio Theatre, £7/4 Poet, storyteller and novelist Kevan Manwaring is renowned for his charismatic performances. In this fascinating event, he will be performing his work and shining a light on the legends, myths and magical tales which have inspired him. Nine Arches Poetry Show Case - Bobby Parker, Dorothy Lehane 1pm-2pm, The Everyman Studio Theatre, £7/4 Prestigious poetry press Nine Arches presents a showcase of poetry from three exciting new names on the spoken word scene. Bobby Parker (“daringly up-front and utterly candid, meticulously crafted”) and Dorothy Lehane (“a groundbreaking, experimental new collection”). The Cheltenham Poetry Festival Players - Victoria’s Poets 3pm-4pm, The Everyman Studio Theatre, £7/4 From The Lady of Shallot to Pied Beauty, from Dover Beach to A Shropshire Lad, the Victorian period saw some of the most evocative and powerful poetry written in English. The Cheltenham Poetry Festival Players (a troupe of actors and poets whose performance credits include The Archers, Crossroads, BBC Radio Gloucestershire and BBC1) perform much-loved work of this golden age. Peter Wyton, Kathryn Alderman, Frances March & Robin Gilbert. Joe Duggan & Rowan Middleton 5pm-6pm, The Everyman Studio Theatre, £7/4 Joe Duggan’s origins are in the North of Ireland. His first collection, Fizzbombs (Tall Lighthouse), was highly commended in The Forward Prize and featured in The Forward Book of Poetry 2010. Fizzbombs chronicles Irish pub life, politics, bingo and failing exams. Joe’s work packs a punch, fuses ‘power and tenderness’ (Cherry Smyth). Rowan Middleton’s poetry mixes myth and modernity as a means of dramatizing the interactions between characters. His work is rooted in the countryside and particularly concerned with environmental issues. Sean O’Brien and Michael McKimm 7pm-8pm, The Everyman Studio Theatre, £7/4 “The bard of urban Britain” (The Times) Sean O’Brien “combines urgent readability with a muscular forcefulness” (The Economist). He is one of our most important living writers and the author or seven highly praised collections of poetry, as well as winning innumerable poetry prizes including The Forward Poetry Prize for Best Collection. In what is set to be one of the highlights of this year’s Festival, Sean shares electrifying poetry about the planet, and our relationship to it, alongside work from his new collection, the eagerly awaited The Beautiful Librarians (Picador). Sean is joined by Michael McKimm, whose “vigorous, and even visionary” poems, most recently in Fossil Sunshine (2013), explore the frailty of nature and the destructive impact the modern age has upon it. Sponsored by The Campaign to Protect Rural England, Gloucestershire.

Sean O’Brien

For bookings call 0844 576 2210 or visit www.cheltenhamtownhall.org.uk


FRIDAY MAY 1 How Wars Start - Fergus McGonigal & Heather Wastie 9pm-10pm, The Everyman Studio Theatre, £7/4 In this hilarious, explosive and highly entertaining event, slam-champs and performance poets Fergus McGonigal & Heather Wastie go head to head to explore the sometimes farcical nature of arguments.


Dommy B

The Dragon that Hates Poetry – for children 5+ and their families 11am-12 noon, The Everyman Studio Theatre, £7/4 As seen on BBC’s ‘Rhyme Rocket’, The Dragon Who Hates Poetry is written and performed by slamwinning poet Dommy B. “There is no dragon scarier in any earthly place. His face looks like his bottom and his bottom like his face...” A fun show packed full of lyrics, laughter and lots of joining in! Armed with only pen and paper, Dommy B needs your help to bring this fearful dragon’s reign to an end! Jonathan Davidson & Sally Goldsmith 1pm-2pm, The Everyman Studio Theatre, £7/4 Singer-songwriter and poet Sally Goldsmith has collaborated on musical dramas and features for Radio 4 and won two Sony Radio Awards. Her poetry has been described as “delightful and exuberant” by David Morley. Jonathan Davidson’s award-winning poems are full of quiet power, tenderness and acute insights into the human condition. Lines of Return: the Poetry of T. S. Eliot, Robert Frost and Others 3pm-4pm, The Everyman Studio Theatre, £7/4 How and why do poets use repetition and refrains in their work? What does this tell us about the subconscious and how poetry gives it voice? In this fascinating talk academic and published poet Stephen James will unlock secrets of the craft in works by T. S. Eliot, Christina Rossetti, Robert Frost and others to show how these great poets used their writing to affect us so deeply and powerfully. T.S. Eliot

Stephen James & Michael Thomas 5pm-6pm, The Everyman Studio Theatre, £7/4 Enter the darkness of the Everyman Studio Theatre for this exciting poetry pairing. Michael Thomas is an internationally-known poet, fiction-writer, dramatist and musician. His work is contemplative, playful with language and “full of uncommon sense” (Michael Standen). Stephen James is the author of Shades of Authority: The Poetry of Lowell, Hill and Heaney (2007).


For bookings call 0844 576 2210 or visit www.cheltenhamtownhall.org.uk

SATURDAY MAY 2 How to Perform your Poetry with Elizabeth Tyrell 6pm-7.30pm, venue tbc, £10/5 In this unique workshop, poet Elizabeth Tyrell will show you how develop your stage presence and performance skills. Perfect for anyone who wants to take to the stage with their work. Elizabeth has done over 700 performances including the ICA (London) and Bluecoates (Liverpool) and is now gaining popularity on the USA circuit. The Cheltenham Poetry Festival Slam 8pm-9.30pm, The Everyman Studio Theatre, £7/4 Seat belts on for the fast and furious ride that is the Cheltenham Poetry Festival Slam. Get ready to watch 12 poets go head to head, X-Factor-style in a smoking hot spoken word standoff.

SUNDAY MAY 3 How to be a Radical with Cormac Russell 11.30am-12.30pm, Oxfam, free Have you ever dreamt of transforming your neighbourhood? In this exciting and innovatory event, motivation speaker and community development guru Cormac Russell illustrates ways of living as a true radical - using poetry and story telling. Cormac is Managing Director of Nurture Development and a faculty member of the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) Institute at Northwestern University, Chicago.

Cormac Russell

Cannon Poets 1.30pm-2.30pm, Oxfam, £6/4 Cannon Poets was founded in 1983 and meets monthly in Moseley, Birmingham. It currently has some forty members and over the years several have become Poet Laureate of Birmingham. The quarterly magazine Cannon’s Mouth receives contributions from around the world. With John Alcock, Di de Woolfson; Carol Griffin; Justine Knowles; Susan Phillips; Marg Roberts; Martin Underwood. Other Countries 3pm-4pm, Oxfam, £7/4 Poets included in the ground-breaking new book Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History share their work in an event which lifts the veil from secret histories. The book includes some dazzlingly original takes on key moments in time. With: Claire Trévien, acclaimed Anglo-Breton live literature producer; prize-winning poet David Clarke, writer, editor and historian Alex Dally MacFarlane; librettist and poet Gareth Prior; Lou Sarabadzic; and Cheltenham Poetry Festival Creative Director and awardwinning poet Ross Cogan.

For bookings call 0844 576 2210 or visit www.cheltenhamtownhall.org.uk


SUNDAY MAY 3 Claire Trevien

Gareth Prior & Claire Trévien 4.30pm-5.30pm, Oxfam, £7/4 Acclaimed poet Claire Trévien is the author of the pamphlet LowTide Lottery (Salt, 2011) and the collection The Shipwrecked House (Penned in the Margins, 2013), which was long listed for the Guardian First Book Award and highly commended in the Forward Prizes. Trévien offers “an absolute gift of a performance” (Jenny Danes, Alliterati). Gareth Prior’s poems have been published or are forthcoming in POEM Magazine, Modern Poetry in Translation, and the annual Templar anthology and have been shortlisted for the Keats-Shelley prize and commended in the Basil Bunting Awards.

Stephen Boyce


Cheltenham Poetry Society and The Jubilate Choir 7.30pm, Francis Close Hall, The University of Gloucestershire, £10/8 An evening of music and poetry. Under the direction of Ian Higginson, Jubilate Chamber Choir is one of Gloucestershire’s leading chamber choirs. Jubilate performs a diverse range of music delighting audiences throughout the UK and in Europe. In this very special event members of Cheltenham Poetry Society perform poems chosen to harmonise with sacred and secular music chosen by the Jubilate Chamber Choir. With music by Bruckner, Byrd, Higginson, Parry, Stanford, Whitacre.

Buzzwords at Cheltenham Poetry Festival 7pm-10pm, The Exmouth Arms, £5/3 (payable on the door) Buzzwords is a popular monthly poetry reading and workshop. This month’s guest poet is Stephen Boyce, a critically acclaimed poet whose work has been described as ‘tender and evocative, passionate and wide-ranging.” (Katherine Gallagher). Please bring your own poems to share in the Open Mic.

THANK YOU TO ALL OUR SUPPORTERS The Directors wish to extend their heartfelt thanks to all those who help to make the Festival a success and especially to our Friends and Patrons who include Dr R.V.Bailey, David Clarke, Jennie Farley, Gill Garrett, Chris Hemingway, Bill Holloway, Lesley Ingram, Michael Newman, Michael Scaife d’Ingerthorpe, Sheila Spence and Howard & Marilyn Timms - and not least to those who wish to remain anonymous.

Details of the Friends and Patrons Scheme may be found at www.cheltenhampoetryfest.co.uk Please consider becoming a Friend and supporting our valuable work. Thank you to Headline Sponsor Jordan’s Solicitors who have supported the festival since its launch in 2010 Our Media Partner The Gloucestershire Echo. Our event sponsors and festival sponsors Everyone who has supported and helped the festival throughout the year Dan Cooper for his inspired and richly imaginative designs The Wilson, Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum – for their support of the festival To John Oldham of The Oldham Foundation for his generous support of the festival over the years. Many thanks to the Cheltenham Poetry Festival Board who work throughout the year to support and promote the festival – Jennie Farley, Chris Hemingway, Angela France and David Clarke.

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For further information email info@cheltenhamtrust.org.uk www.VisitCheltenham.com or call in to The Wilson Tourist Information Centre Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum Clarence Street Cheltenham GL50 3JT Telephone: 01242 237431 Open daily 9.30am–5.15pm Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and Easter Sunday THE WILSON ADVERT 1902_THE WILSON ADVERT 1902 20/02/2015 12:00 Page 1 Brought to you by The Cheltenham Trust in partnership with Cheltenham Borough Council

Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum Four floors of exhibition space, an outstanding Arts and Crafts collection, installations from renowned artists and workshops for children. The Wilson also hosts the tourist information centre, plus a cafe-bistro. There’s always something to explore at The Wilson.

THE WILSON Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum Clarence Street, Cheltenham, GL50 3JT Telephone: 01242 237431 Open 9.30 - 5.15pm Daily Admission free www.thewilson.org.uk

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1 Francis Close Hall Chapel St Paul’s Lane (off Swindon Road) GL50 4AZ (01242 714551)

7 Cheltenham Playhouse 47-53 Bath Road GL53 7HG (01242.522852)

2 Oxfam Bookshop 31 Cambray Place GL50 1JP (01242.511650)


The Wilson Art Gallery & Museum Clarence Street GL50 3JT (01242.522878)

3 Tailors 4 Cambray Place GL50 1JS (01242.255453)


The Muffin Man Basement, 3 Crescent Terrace, Royal Well GL50 3PE (01242.228989)

4 Cheltenham Town Hall Imperial Square GL50 1QA (0844 576 2210)

10 Smokey Joe’s 15-17 Bennington Street GL50 4ED (01242.513744)

5 The Strand 40-42 High Street GL50 1EE (01242.511848)

11 Hardwick Campus, The University of Gloucestershire 176 Swindon Rd GL51 9HX

6 Everyman Theatre 7-10 Regent Street GL50 1HQ (01242.572573)

12 No50 Winchcombe Street GL52 2ND (01242 228595)


Profile for Cheltenham Poetry Festival

Cheltenham Poetry Festival 2015  

Cheltenham Poetry Festival 2015