2.00 – 3.00pm / Exploring Poetry with Read Regional

  Exploring Poetry is an hour-long session in which to read and discuss contemporary poetry in a friendly environment. Whether you already enjoy reading poetry or you haven’t picked up a collection since school, this session is for anyone who wants to find out more about contemporary poetry, how to read it and which poets to look out for. Anna Woodford will be leading this session at Kendal Library as part of Read Regional, a campaign to celebrate new books from the north of England. Anna will be discussing the work of Jack Mapanje, before Jack reads from his own work at 3pm.

Advanced Booking essential, 15 places max.

3.00 – 4.00pm / Main Reading

  We are really delighted to be working in partnership with Read Regional and Kendal Library to bring Jack Mapanje to Kendal Poetry Festival. Widely recognised as one of Malawi’s most celebrated poets, he will be reading from his sixth collection Greetings from Grandpa. His latest collection explores circumstances at home and in exile, in vibrant and compelling narratives. This reading will be held at Kendal Library.

TICKETS:  Free, but please book tickets
3.30 – 5.45pm / Young Writers Workshop

  Dove Cottage Young Poets session with poet Hannah Lowe. This workshop will be held at the Brewery Arts Centre.

Advanced Booking essential.

TICKETS:  Free for young people between the ages of 14 – 21
5.00 – 5.45pm / Tuning In

  Join Martin Kratz for a whistle-stop tour around the Festival. Martin will be talking about the poets, the concerns and pre-occupations their poems address and the ways their writing seems to work. There’s quite a range! Not sure which events to choose? Whether to try something new? For a taster of what’s to come, try this conversation in which Martin will be sampling some of the poems he’ll be especially listening out for.

6.30 – 7.00pm / Festival Launch

  Everyone is welcome to the Festival Launch to be held at 6.30pm in the Abbot Hall Art Gallery. Come and enjoy a celebratory glass of wine, meet our invited guests and members of Brewery Poets. The Festival will be opened by Michael McGregor, Director of the Wordsworth Trust. There will be a reading from our Young Poet in Residence Florence Jones, and a performance by our Young Musician in Residence Sam Nicholls.

7.30 – 9.00pm/ Main Reading

  Hannah Lowe will be reading from her second collection Chan, whose poems weave together stories of famous jazz musicians and family members, exploring issues of immigration, poverty and different ways of looking at borders. William Letford is a roofer by trade, and writes about the ordinary world from a unique perspective. His poetry slips between English and Scots dialect with ease and he is well known for his electrifying readings of his work. He will be reading from his second collection Dirt. Dove Cottage Young Poets Emily Humble and Seren Parkman will read alongside Hannah and William.

10.30 – 1.00pm / Workshop

 Workshop with Kathryn Maris, held at the Shakespeare Centre.

The new fragment

Roland Barthes listed these modes of writing as examples of literary fragments: ‘haiku, maxim, pensée [and] journal entry’.  Fragmented approaches to poetry, popular with the Modernists and again with the Postmodernists, is having another revival due, in part, to the influences of the internet and social media. In this workshop Katherine will discuss poets such as Nuar Alsadir, Lorine Niedecker, Sarah Manguso, Anne Carson and Sam Riviere, who all work, in different ways, with fragmentary techniques. There will be a gentle ‘homework’ to complete before the workshop (please email for information after you have booked your place) as well as some in-class writing. This class will not focus primarily on student poems and is instead more of a ‘reading’ workshop and opportunity for discussion, rather than a writing workshop.

Advance Booking essential, 16 places max.

TICKETS:  £16.50
11.00 – 1.00pm / Main Reading

   Chrissy Williams will be launching her first full-length collection Bear at this year’s festival. Her poetry is surreal, strange and completely original, inviting readers and listeners to look at life in a different way. Reading alongside Chrissy is Inua Ellams. Known for his powerful performances, his exploration of issues around masculinity and immigration is one that we felt needed to be heard at this years festival. Chrissy and Inua will be joined by Emily Asquith and Emily-Megan Foster of Dove Cottage Young Poets.

2.30 – 4.30pm / Main Reading

  Katrina Naomi is an engaging and thought-provoking reader. Through her work, she explores how poetry can be used to examine issues around violence, trauma and family. Malika Booker’s poetry explores the concept of home, weaving the art of storytelling and a passion for Carribbean culture. She is a dynamic and energetic performer, and festival audiences are in for a treat. Malika and Katrina will be joined by Hannah Hodgson and Bella Matarewicz of Dove Cottage Young Poets.

5.00 – 6.00pm / Open Mic

 Hosted by Dove Cottage Young Poets – sign up on the door to read your own poem. Everyone welcome.

5.00 – 6.45pm / Workshop

Writing Workshop with Chrissy Williams, based on the Abbot Hall’s Julian Cooper Exhibition. The exhibition comprises of 30 monumental paintings reflecting Julian Cooper’s travels to South America, the Alps, the Himalayas, the quarries of Tasmania and Carrara, as well as the Lake District. It traces the evolution of Cooper’s work to its current emphasis on the texture, shadow and irregular surfaces of rock and ice. This workshop will be held at Abbot Hall, South Gallery.

Advanced Booking essential, 16 places max.

7.00 – 8.30pm / Main Reading

   Kathryn Maris explores the world of relationships and power with both lyricism and humour. Her poetry is dry, witty and irreverant and her performance will surprise and delight audiences. Tim Liardet will be reading from his latest collection The World Before Snow. It is a book of passionate extremes, exploring identity, love and relationships, whilst pushing the boundaries of language and form. Tim and Kathryn will be joined by Dove Cottage Young Poets Rosa Matarewicz and Bethany Latham.

8.30 for 9.00pm start / Verbalise Open Mic

At the Brewery Arts Centre hosted by Ann Grant.

A special session of the monthly Verbalise Open Mic – with 24 open mic spaces available, each performer has a maximum time limit of 3 minutes before the whistle is blown and they must take their seat! Last year’s event was full of energy and all the slots were filled by a variety of voices.  So come along and perform or sit back and be entertained. We’ll also make sure there’s a 15 minute interval after the first 12 performers to give you a break from all the action! Booking in advance advised. Sign up on the door to read.

TICKETS:  £5 / £2 concessions
10.30 – 1.00pm / Workshop

  Writing Workshop with Katrina Naomi, held at the Shakespeare Centre.

Sustaining a Poem

How do we develop a poem, moving it on from the initial idea into something that feels satisfying? How do we go beyond our first thoughts, beyond what we thought was possible, so that we surprise ourselves – and our readers? This workshop will look at how to give your poetry legs and will show it how to run with the spark of your first idea, gathering other ideas along the way, taking your poetry to a new level. We’ll consider poems by W S Graham, Abigail Parry, Danez Smith and Greta Stoddart. The workshop will be suitable for beginners but will also offer plenty to those who’ve been writing for a while.

Advance Booking essential, 16 places max.

TICKETS:  £16.50
10.30 – 11.30am / Wayleave Press Talk

 Wayleave Press is a Lancaster based pamphlet publisher with a distinctive design style. Over the last 3 years the press has published 16 pamphlets, by poets mostly from the North West. Join us for a question and answer session with publisher and editor Mike Barlow, founder of Wayleave Press. He will be discussing how to get your work published and sharing his expertise on the process of putting a pamphlet together. Following the discussion this session will finish with readings from three outstanding poets with Wayleave pamphlets.

Moon Garden by Ron Scowcroft is full of considered, well-honed poems that draw you back to re-visit them for their humanity, careful imagery and subtle narratives.

Choosing New Omens by Rebecca Bilkau focuses on her move from England to start a new life in Germany. Her style has been described as ‘free-wheeling, forceful’ and ‘metaphorically charged.’

Out of Deep Time by Paul Mills reflects on the story of human evolution, presenting the reader with a view of humanity both affecting and broad in scope.

12.00 – 1.00pm / Discussion: The Poetic Line

  Linda Gregerson asks what is it that constitutes the poetic line? Is it a unit of thought? Of musical phrasing? Of tension between the expectations of syntax and the subversions of the figurative imagination? Is it, in the absence of metrical stricture and end-rhyme, largely a matter of “eye appeal”? Of course, to speak of the poetic line in the context of rhyme and meter is a very different enterprise than to consider the line in poems where traditional form no longer dominates. In this talk, Linda will be looking at examples from both ends of the spectrum and inviting you to think with her about the defining aptitudes of this most basic of poetic building blocks.

2.00 – 4.00pm / Main Reading

  Described in The Guardian as ‘popular but complex, comic yet serious’ Ian Duhig is one of the UK’s best loved and most generous of poets. Known for his humorous yet thought-provoking performances, Ian will delight and entertain festival audiences. He will be reading from his latest collection The Blind Roadmaker. Linda Gregerson is one of the most original and exciting contemporary American poets. Writing in The New Yorker, Dan Chiasson says that Linda Gregerson speaks ‘across the lines of individual circumstance and social identity’. Linda will be reading from her most recent collection Prodigal: New and Selected Poems. Linda and Ian will be joined by two Dove Cottage Young Poets Heather Hughes and Sophie Hansen, the Young Poet in Residence Florence Jones, and the Young Musician in Residence Sam Nicholls.

All Weekend
Exhibition: Julian Cooper

Throughout the Festival, Abbot Hall Gallery will be holding an exhibition by Cumbrian Artist Julian Cooper. His monumental paintings, diverse in scale and subject matter, are inspired by trips to South America, the Alps, the Himalayas, the quarries of Tasmania and Carrara, as well as literary voyages of the imagination. This exhibition will feature in Chrissy Williams’ workshop on Saturday afternoon.


Throughout the Festival, Waterstones will be at the Abbot Hall, and will be selling books by the Festival Poets. Waterstones in Kendal (located on Stricklandgate) will also have a range of poetry books for sale.

Wayleave (a small independent publisher run by Mike Barlow) will also be at the Abbot Hall, and will be selling books by the Wayleave poets.

Iridium, the dream shop for writers, will be selling pens, pencils, inks and stationery over the weekend. Iridium has ‘a passion for all things pen and paper’.


Martin Copley is the offical Festival Photographer and will be taking pictures throughout all the events. A gallery will be posted online after the festival.


Dove Cottage Young Poet Hannah Hodgson will be Blogger-in-Residence for the whole weekend.