The Trustees of the Wenlock Poetry Festival are delighted to announce that a special event is to take place on Sunday 6 May 2018. The occasion will mark the successes of the Festival thus far and give a picture of plans that we have going forward. Central to the day will be a special celebration of the dedication of the Festival’s founder, Anna Dreda, to Much Wenlock as “a perfect place for poetry”.
The programme will feature the ever-popular poetry busk (at Priory Hall from 2-5pm) and an evening performance with poets Paul Henry, Jo Bell and Philip Gross (at The Edge at 7pm).
Please put this date in your diary! Full details will be available here (and elsewhere) very soon. In the interim, we’ll be sharing the great community work that WPF has been doing behind the scenes via our blog and social media channels.
By popular request, here is the list of some of the poems chosen by our guests at the Desert Island Poems sessions hosted by Fiona Talkington this year:
Saturday 23 April 2016
10.30 Daljit Nagra
WH Auden – Spain
Carolyn Forché – The Colonel
Seamus Heaney – A sofa in the forties
12.00 Matt Windle
Buddy Walefield – Convenience Stores
Buddy Wakefield – The Information man
GK Chesterton – The Donkey
14.00 Jonathan Edwards
Dylan Thomas – Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night
Charles Simic – Popular Mechanics
Deryn Rees-Jones – Lovesong to Captain James T. Kirk
Alan Gillis – Down through Dark and Emptying Streets
16.00 Jenny Swann
Keats – Ode on a Grecian Urn
Wendy Cope – Another Unfortunate Choice
Shakespeare – Sonnet 12 (‘When I do count the clock….’)
Adrienne Rich – Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers
Sunday 24 April 2016
10.30 Open mic session
Audience choice included:
Housman – A Shropshire Lad
TS Eliot – Four Quartets
Hans Børli – Writing Poetry
12.00 Pauline Prior-Pitt
Robert Frost – The Road Not Taken
Eaven Boland – Night Feed
14.00 Paul Henry
WS Graham – Loch Thom
Louis MacNeice – Meeting Point
15.00 Andrew Fusek-Peters
Gerard Manley Hopkins – The Windhover
Adrian Henri – Song for a beautiful girl petrol pump attendant
At the end, I go back to the beginning. Petrarch is where our sonnet story starts, and I’ve always been fascinated by the technical development, the different ways in which over time numerous poets have shaped their sonnets. I’m looking forward to discussing that at Saturday morning’s workshop.
A key poem for me, because it was the first time I got national recognition for a sonnet. I’d won two local competitions, but in 2000 this poem came first in the OUSS The Sonnet at the Millennium competition, out of more than eight hundred entries. The poem was stimulated by a Don McCullin photograph of a shell-shocked soldier.
In 2010 Guernsey ran a competition for “poems on the buses.” This poem, designed to be displayed and read on a bus, came third. It also started my intimate poetic relationship with Guernsey, where I’ve been placed third, second and second in three consecutive competitions (each with different judges).
One of the pleasures of living in Much Wenlock is that there are many footpaths which lead straight out of the town. You can keep walking the same paths regularly without any sense of boredom, because the changing seasons continually change the appearance of each path.
I wrote this after reading Sylvia Plath’s journals, which is a long, tough but fascinating experience. I was also trying to vary how I used the sonnet form, using rhythms which concealed the underlying pattern of the iambic line (that ti-tum ti-tum beat).
In the run up to the Festival, our Children and Young People’s Team has been busy taking some poetry magic into local schools. One of their recent events was held at Holy Trinity School in Priorslee, in conjunction with Redhill Primary School, where sixty children were entertained by poet Mark Niel, aka Sparky Mark.
This comes from my latest booklet of poems, Us and Them: the war in error. Terrorist jihadis have carried out appalling atrocities, but that means we have to be clear in our thinking about how we respond. How and why teenagers become radicalised is not simple.