Black Lives Matter Statement and Open Mic

A Statement From Kendal Poetry Festival

‘Change is going to come’

Poetry is one of the most human of art forms. It asks us to look closely, to think carefully, to feel deeply. It asks us to be open and honest and brave.

We believe that poetry has a part to play in the fight against systemic racism, and we proudly and unambiguously support Black Lives Matter.

Like many people, we were appalled at the death of George Floyd in America. However, we cannot be complacent or displace racism as something that happens only in other places, in other communities.

We recognise that systemic racism affects poetry, too. BAME people are under-represented in publishing, anthologies, journals, festivals, readings, and other aspects of the poetry community; BAME people are misrepresented in poetry which reproduces racist attitudes and beliefs; BAME people are betrayed by a poetry community that does not speak and act for change.

We recognise that the process of change demands commitment and that we need to be open, informed and reflective. Guided by resources such as Dr Muna Abdi’s “Advice for Being an Ally”, we are committed to actively questioning our own attitudes and actions. As well as continuing our work in ensuring diverse line-ups, we would like to open an online consultation process to determine what we and other poetry festivals can do to support BAME poets. If you have ideas or thoughts on how we can actively support BAME poets, please email us at

We are listening.

We encourage all literary organisations and groups, big and small, to stand with Black Lives Matter.

On the 27th June,7pm-9pm, Kendal Poetry Festival will host ‘Change is going to come’ – an online Open Mic, taking its title from a poem ‘I Can’t Breathe’ by one of our 2020 Festival poets Hafsah Aneela Bashir.

You can watch the performance of her poem here

Please email us via our Contact Page  if you would like to read a poem on the open mic around the theme of ‘Change’. Tickets will be £5 and all profits will be donated to ‘Artists Supporting Artists’, an initiative put together by the poet Sabrina Mahfouz to distribute funds to artists in need with the focus this time of distributing funds to Black Artists

If you would like to attend but cannot afford the ticket price, please email us. We have some free tickets available.

The Open Mic will take place on Zoom. Please be online ten minutes before the start of the event – the waiting room for the event will be open.

You can get tickets from Eventbrite here – please leave your email when booking tickets – the zoom link will be sent out by email two hours before the event starts.

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