2021 Full Programme

All events via Zoom

The timezone is GMT+1 (London).

Thursday, 21 October

8-9:30 p.m. Free event.
Welcome to the festival by Carrie Etter & Helen Dewbery.
Open mic with volunteers and regulars hosted by Helen Dewbery. 

We kick off with a one poem, maximum 40 lines, open mic featuring our regular festival goers, volunteers, and new voices. Sign up in advance via the Eventbrite booking.


Friday, 22 October

10:30-12:30, £15
Seminar
with Vahni Capildeo
Sitting with Discomfort: We can enjoy the instant shock quickly delivered by poems in performance or translated into visual media. What happens when a poem feels uncomfortable to us in some way? What happens if we decide to spend time with it, instead of clicking to the next? Let’s explore our complicity and our shifts in response, via slow and appreciative reading of texts by Solmaz Sharif, Shivanee Ramlochan, and Padraig Regan.


Vahni Capildeo is Writer in Residence at the University of York, a Visiting Scholar at Pembroke College, Cambridge, and a Contributing Editor for PN Review. Capildeo’s interests include poetry, non-fiction, silence, traditional masquerade, and collaborations. Capildeo’s 2021 winter journal, ‘Lighthouse and Anchorage’, twins Edinburgh and Norwich for the National Centre for Writing’s UNESCO project, ‘Imagining the City’. Recent work includes Like a Tree, Walking (Carcanet, forthcoming 2021).

7-8:00, £5
In Search of the Perfect Poetry Film
Join BPW’s co-director, Helen Dewbery, in her search for the perfect poetry film. Is it out there somewhere and if it is what would it be like?

8:30-9:45, £5
Evening reading with Kazim Ali, Mary Jean Chan and Cole Swensen. Hosted by Carrie Etter.
This event is a webinar.


Kazim Ali was born in the United Kingdom and has lived transnationally in the United States, Canada, India, France, and the Middle East. His books encompass multiple genres, including the volumes of poetry Inquisition, Sky Ward, winner of the Ohioana Book Award in Poetry; The Far Mosque, winner of Alice James Books’ New England/New York Award; The Fortieth Day; All One’s Blue; and the cross-genre texts Bright Felon and Wind Instrument. He is also an accomplished translator (of Marguerite Duras, Sohrab Sepehri, Ananda Devi, Mahmoud Chokrollahi and others) and an editor of several anthologies and books of criticism. After a career in public policy and organizing, Ali taught at various colleges and universities, including Oberlin College, Davidson College, St. Mary’s College of California, and Naropa University. He is currently a Professor of Literature at the University of California, San Diego. His newest books are a volume of three long poems entitled The Voice of Sheila Chandra and a memoir of his Canadian childhood, Northern Light.

Mary Jean Chan is the author of Flèche, published by Faber & Faber (2019). Flèche won the 2019 Costa Book Award for Poetry and was shortlisted in 2020 for the International Dylan Thomas Prize and the Seamus Heaney Centre First Collection Poetry Prize. Chan was guest co-editor at The Poetry Review in Spring 2020 and is a contributing editor at Oxford Poetry. Chan is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing (Poetry) at Oxford Brookes University.

Cole Swensen is the author of 19 books of poetry; her most recent, Art in Time (Nightboat Books, 2021), features hybrid poem-essays on innovative landscape art. A former Guggenheim Fellow, she’s a recipient of the Iowa Poetry Prize, the San Francisco State Poetry Center Book Award, and the National Poetry Series, and has been a finalist for the National Book Award. Also a translator of French poetry, prose, and art criticism, she has won the PEN USA Award in Translation. She divides her time between Paris and Providence, Rhode Island.

10-10:30 Drop-in poetry cafe. Free event.
Join fellow festival goers to talk about the day’s events in this informal gathering.


Saturday, 23 October

10:30-12:30, £15
Seminar
“Risks and Reboots” with John McCullough: How far do you stretch yourself as a poet? This workshop will encourage you to engage in thematic and formal departures, asking participants to begin poems from a range of surprising angles. We’ll discuss areas like reading and writing outside your comfort zone, experimenting with lines and stanzas, radical editing and techniques concerning composition and research that will help you to steer your writing into new territory.

John McCullough lives in Hove. His latest book of poems, Reckless Paper Birds (Penned in the Margins) won the 2020 Hawthornden Prize for Literature and was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award. In the Times Literary Supplement, head judge for the Hawthornden, Christopher Reid, described it as ‘a rare literary phenomenon . . . a frank and militant declaration of joy.’ John has won other awards, including the Polari First Book Prize, and his collections have been named Books of the Year in The Independent, The Guardian, andThe Observer. His poem ‘Flower of Sulphur’ is on the shortlist for this year’s Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.

2-3:00, £5
Poets & Publishers with Naush Sabah of Poetry Birmingham Review and Pallina Press and Martha Sprackland of Offord Road Books. Hosted by Carrie Etter.

Naush Sabah is Editor and Publishing Director at Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal. She is a trustee at Poetry London and a visiting lecturer at Birmingham City University. Her writing has appeared in the TLS, PN Review, The Dark Horse, Magma and elsewhere. Her pamphlet Litanies is forthcoming with Guillemot Press in November 2021.

Martha Sprackland is an editor, writer, and translator from the north of England. She was co-founder–editor of Cake magazine, and is a founding editor of multilingual arts zine La Errante and the independent publishing house Offord Road Books. Following two pamphlets, Glass As Broken Glass (Rack, 2017) and Milk Tooth (Rough Trade Books, 2018), Martha’s debut collection of poems, Citadel (Pavilion, 2020) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, the Costa Poetry Award and the John Pollard International Poetry Prize.

3:30-5:00 Free event.
Open Mic
hosted by Helen Dewbery
Join us for a one poem, maximum 40 lines, open mic featuring regular festival goers, volunteers, and new voices. Sign up in advance via Eventbrite.  

8:30-9:45, £5
Evening reading with Elena Karina Byrne, John McCullough and Patricia Smith. Hosted by Carrie Etter. This event is a webinar.


Elena Karina Byrne is a freelance editor, 25-year Poetry Consultant & Moderator for The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, poetry programs curator for the Craft Contemporary Museum, and Literary Programs Director for the historic Ruskin Art Club. She has taught or lectured at numerous institutions and organisations including the Poetry School, Cambridge University, University of Southern California, The Los Angeles Film School, and elsewhere.

A Pushcart Prize recipient, Byrne’s most recent collections are If This Makes You Nervous (Omnidawn, 2021) and No Don’t (What Books Press, 2020); individual poems have appeared in Poetry, The Best American Poetry, The Paris Review, BOMB, and elsewhere.She is now completing her first screenplays, short stories, and a collection of hybrid essays entitled Voyeur Hour: Poetry, Art, Film, & Desire.

John McCullough lives in Hove. His latest book of poems, Reckless Paper Birds (Penned in the Margins) won the 2020 Hawthornden Prize for Literature and was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award. In the Times Literary Supplement, head judge for the Hawthornden, Christopher Reid, described it as ‘a rare literary phenomenon . . . a frank and militant declaration of joy.’ John has won other awards, including the Polari First Book Prize, and his collections have been named Books of the Year in The Independent, The Guardian, andThe Observer. His poem ‘Flower of Sulphur’ is on the shortlist for this year’s Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.

Patricia Smith is the author of eight books of poetry, including Incendiary Art (Northwestern University Press 2017),winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award, the LA Times Book Prize, the NAACP Image Award and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize;Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah (Coffee House Press, 2012), winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets; and Blood Dazzler (Coffee House Press, 2008), a National Book Award finalist. She is a Guggenheim fellow, an NEA grant recipient, a former fellow at Civitella Ranieri, Yaddo and MacDowell, a professor in the MFA program at Sierra Nevada College, a creative writing lecturer at Princeton University, and a distinguished professor for the City University of New York. She is currently at work on her first novel and second children’s picture book.

10-10:30 Free event.
Drop-in poetry cafe hosted by Sarah Dixon.
Join fellow festival goers to talk about the day’s events in this informal gathering.


Sunday, 24 October

10:30-12:30, £15 
Seminar

“Approaches to Poetry Reviewing” with Maryam Hessavi and Sandeep Parmar: Sometimes formulaic, reviews are framed by critical assumptions. Looking at examples from a range of publications that revolve around similar texts, we will consider how others have framed and supported those critical judgments. How do we carry the reader with us? How do we avoid making general or grandiose statements? How do we choose the right evidence to support our critical claims? We will also look at a selection of inadequately supported reviews where judgments are more opinion than evidence-based claims. You will have the opportunity to not just reflect on the historical and cultural role of the poetry critic (via a few essays and resources on reviewing) but to also attempt to plan a review of your own. Please bring to the session a recently published book of poetry that you’ve read well enough to write about. Our session will involve discussion, a brief planning exercise and some workshopping of those review plans/outlines. We will also talk through the practicalities of pitching.

Maryam Hessavi is a freelance writer, poet and critic. She is an assistant reviews editor for The Poetry School and contributing editor for Ambit. Her work has featured in various publications and was recently selected for Carcanet’s New Poetries VIII anthology. As a committee member for the Poets & Players series, she helps to run free poetry and music events at The Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester. She is also a member of the Ledbury Poetry Critics.

Sandeep Parmar FRSL FRSA is Professor of English Literature at the University of Liverpool where she co-directs Liverpool’s Centre for New and International Writing. She is the author of scholarly books and critical editions of modernist women poets and two poetry collections, The Marble Orchard and Eidolon, winner of the Ledbury Forte Prize for Best Second Collection. Her essays and reviews have appeared in the Guardian, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The New Statesman, the Financial Times and the Times Literary Supplement. She is a BBC New Generation Thinker and co-founder of the Ledbury Poetry Critics’ scheme for poetry critics of colour.

2-3:30 Free event.
Afternoon debut poets reading with Miranda Barnes, Chaucer Cameron, Rachel Long, Caleb Parkin and Vik Shirley. Hosted by Julia Webb.

Miranda Lynn Barnes is a poet from the US, now resident in the UK. Her poems have appeared in New Welsh Reader, Shearsman, Tears in the Fence, Under the Radar, Marble Poetry, and Lighthouse Journal, among other journals. Miranda’s work has also appeared in a number of anthologies, including Bloody Amazing, Maths Poems, and A Hatchery of Shadows: Poems about Plants, Brain and Imagination. Miranda taught creative writing for five years at Bath Spa University, where she now serves as Research Publications Librarian. Her debut pamphlet, Blue Dot Aubade, was published with V. Press in 2020.

Chaucer Cameron is the author of In an Ideal World I’d Not Be Murdered (Against the Grain, 2021) She has been published in magazines and anthologies, including Under the Radar, Poetry Salzburg and The North. She is also the creator of Wild Whispers, an international poetry film project, and curates and presents poetry film at events and festivals. She is co-editor of the online magazine, Poetry Film Live.

Rachel Long’s debut collection, My Darling from the Lions was published by Picador in 2020. It was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, The Costa Book Award, The Rathbones Folio Prize, and the Jhalak Prize Book of the Year by a Writer of Colour.  She is the founder of Octavia Poetry Collective for women of colour, housed at the Southbank Centre. 

Caleb Parkin, Bristol City Poet 2020-22, won second prize in the National Poetry Competition 2016, the Winchester Poetry Prize 2017, and has placed on other competition shortlists. His poems have appeared in The Rialto, Poetry Review, Under the Radar, Poetry Wales, Magma, Butcher’s Dog, Lighthouse, and elsewhere. He tutors for Poetry Society, Poetry School, Cheltenham Festivals, and First Story, and holds an MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes (CWTP). He previously worked in BBC TV and radio production, as a teacher, and as a Senior Inclusion Worker. He lives in a human-canine pack in suburban Bristol. His debut pamphlet, Wasted Rainbow, was published with tall-lighthouse and his debut collection This Fruiting Body with Nine Arches Press in October 2021. 

Vik Shirley’s chapbook, Corpses (Sublunary Editions), was published in 2020, and her collection, The Continued Closure of the Blue Door (HVTN Press), and her photo-poetry book, Disrupted Blue and Other Poems on Polaroid (Hesterglock), were published in 2021. Her work has appeared in such places as Poetry London, The Rialto, Magma, Shearsman and 3am Magazine. She is currently studying for a PhD in Dark Humour and the Surreal at the University of Birmingham.

4-4:30 Free event.
Drop-in poetry cafe hosted by Helen Dewbery.
Join fellow festival goers to talk about the day’s events in this informal gathering.

8:30-9:45, £5
Evening reading with Raymond Antrobus, Vahni Capildeo and Forrest Gander. Hosted by Carrie Etter. This event is a webinar.

Raymond Antrobus was born in London to an English mother and Jamaican father. He is author of To Sweeten Bitter (Out-Spoken Press), The Perseverance (Penned In The Margins), All The Names Given (Picador), and children’s picture book ‘Can Bears Ski?’ (Walker Books). In 2019 he was a recipient of the Ted Hughes Award and won the Sunday Times/University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year Award and became the first poet to be awarded the Rathbone Folio Prize.

Vahni Capildeo is Writer in Residence at the University of York, a Visiting Scholar at Pembroke College, Cambridge, and a Contributing Editor for PN Review. Capildeo’s interests include poetry, non-fiction, silence, traditional masquerade, and collaborations. Capildeo’s 2021 winter journal, ‘Lighthouse and Anchorage’, twins Edinburgh and Norwich for the National Centre for Writing’s UNESCO project, ‘Imagining the City’. Recent work includes Like a Tree, Walking (Carcanet, forthcoming 2021).

Forrest Gander, a writer and translator with degrees in geology and literature, was born in the Mojave Desert and lives in northern California. His books, often concerned with ecology, include Be With, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and Twice Alive, coming out in 2022 from Arc in the UK. Gander’s many translations include Alice Iris Red Horse by Gozo Yoshimasu, Firefly Under the Tongue by Coral Bracho, and Then Come Back: the Lost Neruda Poems. He has received grants from the Library of Congress, the Guggenheim, Howard, Whiting and United States Artists Foundations.