Poetry Festival

Published 18th May 2016

An MBE, a Forward Prize Winner and an acclaimed stand-up poet lead line up at Southwell Library Poetry Festival 2016

Celebrated poets Lemn Sissay MBE, Daljit Nagra and Kate Fox will all be appearing at the ninth annual Southwell Library Poetry Festival this July. All three poets are festival first-timers.

The much-loved festival, organised and delivered by Inspire on behalf of Nottinghamshire County Council, takes place between 14 – 17 July. A cornerstone of the cultural calendar, the programme is packed with readings, performances and workshops to inspire the county with poetry.

Friday night’s headliner is charismatic poet, playwright, broadcaster and blogger Lemn Sissay MBE, and on Saturday evening Forward prize-winning Daljit Nagra will take to the stage. On Sunday, our popular Afternoon Tea event returns, hosted by the ever-witty stand-up poet Kate Fox, promising an afternoon of warmth, wit and cake.

There will also be talks and workshops, including a chance for writers to hone their performance skills with inspirational Mansfield-born poet and playwright Kevin Fegan, and a drop-in poetry surgery with Writing East Midlands.

A celebration of the region’s prolific small presses takes place on Saturday, with a panel event featuring representatives from respected local independent publishers. Nottinghamshire Archives present poignant poetry written by local soldiers from the First World War on Sunday.

This year, the festival opens a day earlier on Thursday evening with a special preview of an exciting exhibition of art and poetry set to tour libraries in the Autumn, and featuring readings from poets Jacqueline Gabbitas and Anna Robinson.

With a children’s event, talks on The Yorkshire Poets and Hardy, and more, it’s set to be a poetry-packed few days.

Councillor John Knight, Committee Chairman for Culture, at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “We’re looking forward to a great ninth year for Southwell Library Poetry Festival. This year’s line-up is simply exceptional – featuring top UK poets and including a wide range of events. Our aim with the festival is to inspire people with the power of poetry, and this year’s programme looks set to do just that.

“It’s also a particularly exciting year for the festival as it’s the first by Inspire – the Community Benefit Society set up to deliver culture, learning and library services on behalf of Nottinghamshire County Council.”

Tickets for the festival are available at the library or online (Eventbrite charges apply per ticket for online bookings), and early booking is recommended. The full programme and link to online bookings is available at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/southwellpoetryfestival


More about the headliners:

Lemn Sissay Poetry Reading, Friday 15 July at 7.30pm. Tickets: £12 / £10 (Adult event. Under 18s to be accompanied by an adult.)

“Hugely enjoyable; inventive and funny and touching” The Guardian

Lemn Sissay MBE is a human powerhouse. As well as receiving an MBE from the Queen for services to literature, he is an Honorary Doctor of Letters and Chancellor of Manchester University. A prolific poet, playwright, broadcaster and blogger, his work has been made into public art, appeared on multi-million selling albums and even inspired a violin concerto.

Lemn Sissay spent his early life in foster care and children’s homes and is a passionate advocate for improving the lives of disadvantaged children. He is a Foundling Museum Fellow, an ambassador for the Children’s Reading Fund and a patron of the Letterbox Club for looked-after children, a UK-wide scheme that operates here in Nottinghamshire. He also funds a PhD scholarship for careleavers.

He writes poems about love, family, the meaning of home and the state of the world. Passionate and intense, his performance style is mesmerising.

If you google his name all results relate to him. There is only one Lemn Sissay in the world.



Daljit Nagra Poetry Reading, Saturday 16 July, 7.30pm. Tickets: £10 / £8. Concessionary rate is also available for Inspire members. Visit www.inspireculture.org.uk (Adult event. Under 18s to be accompanied by an adult.)

“Nagra has done something amazing: he has written a poetry book that people might actually read.” The Observer

Daljit Nagra won the Forward Prize for his first collection, Look We Have Coming to Dover! and his work has been nominated for every major UK poetry prize. His most recent book, a retelling of the classic Indian Ramayana, was the Financial Times and New Statesman Poetry Book of the year. He is BBC Radio 4’s first Poet in Residence and his work appears on the GCSE syllabus.

Born in Britain of Sikh Punjabi parents, DaljIt Nagra’s poetry explores the experience of operating between two cultures, sometimes meeting, often clashing. His language mixes British slang with the Punjabi English of his parents’ generation, creating a unique poetic voice that is humorous, vibrant and unlike anything else you will read or hear. Immigration, KFC, Torvill and Dean, arranged marriage, Coronation Street – anything and everything can appear in a Daljit Nagra poem.



Tea with… Kate Fox, Sunday 17 July at 4.30 – 6pm. £10 / £8 (For adults).

“Funny and endearing with a cynicism that cuts through the whimsy.” (Sunday Telegraph)

Kate Fox is a stand-up poet and writer who has been Poet in Residence for Glastonbury Festival, Radio 4’s Saturday Live programme, the Yorkshire Festival and the Great North Run! She won the Andrew Waterhouse Prize for her first poetry pamphlet and her most recent collection, Fox Populi, has been described as ‘winning, witty and wise’ (Acumen)

When she isn’t performing at the comedy club circuit and festivals around the UK she is working on her PhD in Northernness and Solo Performance at the University of Leeds.

A background in radio journalism and a ready wit have won Kate the reputation of being a peerless plenary poet and she is much in demand for her ‘instant poems’ at cultural and corporate events.

Kate will host the popular ‘Tea with…’ event at Southwell Library Poetry Festival, so an afternoon of wit, warmth and downright hilarity is guaranteed.


For details of the full programme at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/southwellpoetryfestival

For further event information and library bookings call 01636 812 148. Credit and debit cards accepted.

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