Black Lives Matter Statement and Open Mic

Kendal Poetry Festival UK - Bringing a Poetry Festival to Kendal and the Lake District

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.

Festival News!

One step closer…


Clare and I are really excited to announce that we have been successful in our first application for funding towards the 2020 Kendal Poetry Festival from The Hadfield Trust. Part of this funding will be used to create a project that will honour and commemorate the life of local poet Alan Forsyth.

Alan was a talented local poet and artist and a passionate supporter of poetry and the arts, and we are very happy to be involved in creating something that will keep his memory alive in Cumbria.

We have a busy summer ahead as we get on with our Arts Council application for the rest of the funding that we need, so wish us luck, and keep an eye out here on the website for news of how we’re getting on.

Kendal Poetry Festival 2020 News

Kendal Poetry Festival UK - Bringing a Poetry Festival to Kendal and the Lake District

It’s hard to believe that six months have passed since the last instalment of Kendal Poetry Festival – those months seem to have flown by for more reasons than one! There’s lots of news and some big changes to report! The first piece of news and a date to put in your diary is an appointment with the next Kendal Poetry Festival, which will be 18th-21st June 2020.


The festival will be having a year off in 2019 – various circumstances have conspired to make this necessary. As many of you already know, I’m in the final year of my PhD, and felt that I needed a break from the festival this year so that I can finish off this huge part of my life. I’m also pregnant, and am due to give birth in June this year – not exactly compatible with running an intense three day festival!

I also have some sad news to share – my co-director and co-conspirator Pauline Yarwood has decided to step down from running the festival. Pauline has decided she’d like to concentrate on her own creative projects which have been put on the back burner whilst we’ve been running Kendal Poetry Festival for the last three years. Pauline has been a fantastic person to work with, and she has worked tirelessly to make the festival the success it has been. I have loved working with her, and will really miss our long meetings, fuelled with tea and biscuits and our even longer phone calls to fix not only festival problems, but general life problems!

I wish Pauline all the best with her future creative endeavours, which include poetry and potting, and am pretty sure that she will be around at the next festival, hopefully as an audience member, and with some time to put her feet up!







Here’s a statement from Pauline – who I like to imagine is writing this in between writing the odd poem or two…

It’s been a fantastic three years working with Kim and setting up the Kendal Poetry Festival. We had high hopes and idealistic aims when we started out, but we had no idea how successful it would actually be. We had an amazing line up of poets each year, and each year the festival has grown. The excitement and atmosphere at all the festivals was stunning, and it’s great that so many people loved being there and contributed to its success. One of the best things at the end of each festival was reading the feedback forms. The poets who were reading or running workshops and the audiences that supported us made some extraordinarily wonderful comments.

I am sad that I have decided to step down but it is also time for me concentrate on some more creative work of my own and I know that I am leaving the whole project and the future of the Kendal Poetry Festival in the best possible hands. Kim and Clare have the talent and vision to take KPF forward and I’m sure it will go from strength to strength, increasing in diversity, talent development and excellence as the years go by. It’s a bit daunting to announce that I’m intending to work on other creative projects – it means I have to do it. Whatever I do, I’ll be missing kitchen table talks and café meetings with Kim, and the excitement of planning. But, I will most definitely be there in 2020, for every single event. I wont miss a minute.


Whilst it’s sad to say goodbye to Pauline, I’m really pleased to announce that I have a new partner in crime ready to go! The brilliant poet Clare Shaw has agreed to co-direct the festival with me going forward, and we had our first official planning meeting today. I’ve known Clare for quite a few years now and have worked with her to run residentials and read with her many times over the years. I know she will bring her unique enthusiasm, energy and passion to the festival and I’m already starting to get excited about 2020.









Hand over to Clare here to say hello:

Poetry is a conversation; a living creature; a world. In just three years, Pauline and Kim have created a festival with a life of its own: their love of poetry and their commitment to diversity and inclusion hasn’t been an add-on, or tick on a funding bid – these are at the very core of the Kendal Poetry Festival. I love what these women have achieved, I love the South Lakes, and I love working with Kim Moore – so when Pauline decided to stand down, it was very clear to me that I wanted in. I’m excited, I’m slightly nervous, and I can’t wait to get started. See you in 2020!


That is all the news – as you can see there are some major changes afoot, but our core values will remain the same. In 2020, expect to see an exciting and diverse line up of poets, the inclusion of young writers from Dove Cottage Young Poets at the heart of the programme and bursary opportunities for low income writers and writers who identify as disabled to come and attend the festival for free.

Please keep your eye on our website for festival news – we will be posting updates here as we have them.










– Kim Moore