Kendal Poetry Festival

Our heartfelt thank you to everyone who has walked this journey with us

Dear All,

We have decided to close Kendal Poetry Festival.

We could tell you that it’s because Kim is moving to Yorkshire, and it makes no sense for us to run an event located in a poetry community neither of us are part of. But that wouldn’t be the whole truth.

The truth is that running a festival is very hard work. KPF was founded in 2016, by Kim Moore and Pauline Yarwood, and since that point, it grew from a three-day event at Abbott Hall to a four-day festival, drawing writers and audiences from around the world to sites across Kendal, in person and online. We worked through a global pandemic and responded with 60 digital events over 10 days. We set new standards for accessibility and inclusivity; we mastered new technologies, and harnessed them to expanding the festival and improving accessibility. We managed all of this without compromising Kendal’s reputation for world-class poetry within a warm, friendly community.

We are very tired.

A festival organiser’s job begins the year before the festival, creating the programme, contacting poets, researching venues, beginning the months-long work of applying for funding. If it’s secured, then venues, website, poets, accommodation, volunteers, ticketing, technical staff, and a hundred other practicalities must be sorted before the immense task of marketing begins. Once the anxiety of ticket sales, train strikes, and last-minute disasters are over, then the festival starts, with its 18-hour days. Then it’s time to issue payments, settle the accounts and write your reports. Then it’s time to plan for next year. With most festival organisers working on a part-time basis, there’s an open expectation that you will work far in excess of your hours and your own limits.

We’ve both learned so much from Kendal Poetry Festival. We’ve worked with amazing poets and amazing audiences. We’ve felt ourselves to be part of a crucial, vibrant community. We’ve learned how we all gain from inclusive and accessible practice, and the many ways we can all work towards it. We’ve learned about our capacities, our passions, our limits and our friendship.

Our lives have changed, and we both have new roles, new priorities and new possibilities. Both of us will carry what we learned from KPF with us. Both of us will continue to advocate for the transformative potential of poetry, to bring world class poetry to audiences in the North, and to showcase new writers. We’ll continue to work from the belief that inclusive practice is best practice, and to harness new technologies to increase engagement, creativity and accessibility. And we will continue to work, laugh and plot together. Just watch this space.

Finally, we want to say a huge, heartfelt thank you to everyone who has walked this journey with us – Pauline Yarwood, The Brewery Poets, our Festival Manager Katie Hale, Wordsworth Grasmere, all of our guest poets, artists and volunteers, especially Dove Cottage Young Poets, our young Musicians in Residence, and of course our audiences, both online and in person.


Lots of love,

Kim Moore & Clare Shaw

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