News

/ 2 July 2021

Juliet Stevenson, Margaret Atwood and Carolyn Forché headline Ledbury Poetry Festival’s first ever hybrid 25th anniversary festival

2nd – 11th July 2021

Since it was established in 1996, Ledbury Poetry Festival has welcomed more than 3000 poets, from 150 countries, and household name poets such as Carol Ann Duffy, Roger McGough, Benjamin Zephaniah and Andrew Motion and celebrities including  Michael Palin, Joan Bakewell and Alexei Sayle to become the largest and most established and international poetry festival in the county.

Last year the pandemic saw Ledbury go online and run a hugely successful virtual poetry festival with attendees from around the world. 

Now for its 25th anniversary, Ledbury Poetry Festival announces the line up for its first ever hybrid virtual/physical festival

Characterised by its unique and completely of the moment pairings, the programme will be launched by Margaret Atwood in a pre-recorded conversation with Ledbury Poetry Critic Stephanie Sy-Quia, on Friday 2nd July.

Other unmissable events include a masterclass from Carolyn Forché, Juliet Stevenson presenting her film on Stevie Smith, the first ever Online Ledbury Poetry Slam and one of the Caribbean's leading writers Kwame Dawes in a discussion on collaboration with John Kinsella and Malika Booker. Hosts will include Jackie Kay, Neil Astley and Jonathan Edwards

Further highlights include Jorie Graham, one of the most celebrated poets of the American poet-war generation with Sarah Howe, Chen Chen, Julia Copus with Robert Selby, Billy Collins and Martina Evans, Fred D’Aguiar and André Naffis-Sahely, Eileen Myles and Nick Flynn … to name a few…

The Versopolis event is a fascinating exploration of Europe, as seen by poets from Slovakia, Belarus, Greece and Armenia, with Eleni Cay, Volha Hapeyeva, Danae Sioziou, Ruzanna Voskanyan. Since Versopolis began in 2014 it has offered opportunities to perform at festivals and have work translated to 321 poets from 39 countries. As Sieglinde Vanhaezebrouck, from Poeziecentrum in Belgium, says “Versopolis enriches our view on poetry and culture in Europe. More than ever it is important to build bridges, discover the other and share thoughts and poetry.”

Opportunities to participate include workshops, an open mic featuring poets from Zimbabwe and Botswana, the Slam, the community poetry showcase, one-to-ones with Robert Selby.

Fun events and happenings include a poetry reading for dogs and their owners, with Matt Black. Sally Crabtree’s Poetry Bingo and Sweetshop of Words. The Poetry Machine, the Spellwright and the Poetry Jukebox are popping up on Ledbury High Street. Unearth hidden poems on Ledbury’s first ever interactive digital poetry trail, and enjoy the Poetry on Platforms railway tour, culminating at Ledbury, Junction for Poetry. Families can enjoy Fetch Theatre’s Insect Safari, in Ledbury’s Walled Garden, with words by Casey Bailey, Romalyn Ante and Emma Purshouse.

Talks on poets of the past include William Wootten on Walter de la Mare and Julia Copus on Charlotte Mew.

UK poets include Julia Copus, Luke Kennard, Andrew McMillan, Phoebe Stuckes, Anthony Anaxagorou, Ruth Stacey, Rhian Edwards, Beth Calverley, Jean Atkin, Robert Selby, Martina Evans, Angela France, Jamie Thrasivoulou, Penelope Shuttle and Gillian Clarke

Chloe Garner, Festival Artistic Director, says, “25 years of Ledbury Poetry Festival is an extraordinary achievement. Started by a group of volunteers, Ledbury has grown into one of the biggest and best-known poetry festivals in the world. Ledbury is special because it is firmly rooted in the community and the town, but it has always taken an adventurous and open approach to what poetry is and how it can appeal. It has always been international, eclectic and fun. The sun always shines, everyone is friendly, and you can expect the unexpected!” 

“For 2021, we look back on 25 years of adventures in poetry. Even though the last year has been challenging, the future beckons, as we present the first ever hybrid Ledbury Poetry Festival with online, in person and live-streamed events. Always international, always thought provoking and guaranteed to entertain.”

'Ledbury Festival is the best in the country' Andrew Motion

'If poetry is your passion, try Ledbury Poetry Festival... a glorious 10-day early-summer festival with a good international line-up of names to savour and discover.' 
The Financial Times

[Ledbury] is the largest of its kind in the UK and also the most energised, giving a real sense of poetry as an important living, contemporary literary form’
Guardian

For more information please contact Kelly Pike
M: 07824812520 E: kelly@folkpublicrelations.co.uk

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