cheltenham poetry festival 2015

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  • Cheltenham Poetry Festival is a triumph! - Alison Brackenbury


    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 or via the Tickets Hotline 0844 576 2210.


    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:

    Wilson 01242 237431 Playhouse 01242 522852 Everyman 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.

    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 Festivals birthday. Its five years since the Festivals launch, when we used this colour for the first time. Since 2011, weve 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 years 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 OBrien. He is joined by environmental poet Michael McKimm.

    We are also launching Dear World - a new booklet from the Cheltenham Poetry Festivals 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 Festivals (and Carol Ann Duffys) favourite poetry band Little Machine; a galaxy of acclaimed poets such as Claire Trvien, 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; childrens poetry shows and much more!

    Whether youd 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.

    For bookings call 0844 576 2210 or visit




    Cheltenham Poetry Festival Launch EventPhil Bowens All the Stuff plus Joy Amy Wigman and open mic6pm-7.30pm, Smokey Joes, 7/4All 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 50s songs and there will be poetry from Rick Vick. Its 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.

    Hear and Now - An Aural Adventurein 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.

    Cheltenham Poetry Festival Youth Slam! 7pm-9pm, Cheltenham Town Hall, 5Watch 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.

    Ben Norris & Lily Blacksell 7pm-8pm, The Wilson, 7/5The 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. Bens debut poetry pamphlet was published in summer 2014 by Nasty Little Press, and hes been described as a really exciting 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, 10/7Get ready to boogie along to the bards with Little Machine The most brilliant music and poetry band Ive 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.

    For bookings call 0844 576 2210 or visit 2

    Little Machine

    Cheltenham Improvisers Orchestra


    Martyn Crucefix & Olivia Byard1pm-2pm, Oxfam, 6/4Martyn Crucefix is considered to be one of our most important living poets. He has published five collections of poetry and his translation of Rilkes 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 Byards 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 Sleep2.30pm-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.

    Cinnamon Press: Writing the Road Cathy Whittaker & Connie Ramsay Bott11am-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.

    New Voices - Ben Parker & Aled Thomas6pm-7pm, Smokey Joes, 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 Thomass 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.

    The Minotaur is Not a Monster Myra Schneider& Anna Saunders Plus the launch of Dear World

    4pm-5.15 pm, Oxfam, 7/4Step into the labyrinth where poets Myra Schneider (emotionally vulnerable, richly allusive poetry Jane Holland) and Anna Saunders (a poet of quite exceptional gifts Bernard ODonoghue), 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 Festivals Frosted Fire Press and featuring the work of many of the poets reading at the Festival.

    For bookings call 0844 576 2210 or visit

    Ben Parker



    The Contradictions of Flesh - Sonia Hendy-Isaac & Clare Ferguson-Walker7.30pm-8.30pm, Smokey Joes, 7/5Sonia Hendy-Isaacs 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. Its 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 shes ever entered. She has performed with London-based outfit Tongue Fu and described as absurdly talented by Phil Jupitus.

    Mothers 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 Mothers Milk Books. Sarah and Angela will be joined by Dr Teika Bellamy of Mothers 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 Horovitz1pm-2pm, Playhouse Theatre Lounge, 7/4 David Morley is one of Britains 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 4s Cerys Matthews.

    Black Silent Waters: Ted Hughesas Artistic Father a talk

    2.30pm-3.30pm, Playhouse Theatre Lounge, 7/4Tim Liardet learned from Ted Hughes that a poets primary concern is the


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