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

Meet our ‘Opening Doors’ Bursary recipients

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

We are very happy to announce the names of our three ‘Opening Doors’ bursary recipients.  We wanted to provide an opportunity for three writers to access the festival who might not otherwise be able to, and we’re really looking forward to welcoming Laura Potts, Frances Norton and Jamie Hale.  Laura, Frances and Jamie will receive accommodation over the weekend of the festival and a Festival Pass to access readings and discussions over the weekend.

Congratulations Laura, Frances and Jamie and another huge thank you to Ann from Brewery Poets who is hosting Laura and Frances for the weekend, and for Christine Webb, who provided a bursary for a writer who identifies as disabled.

Laura Potts is twenty-two years old and lives in West Yorkshire. Twice-recipient of the Foyle Young Poets Award and Lieder Poet at The University of Leeds, her work has appeared in Agenda, Prole and Poetry Salzburg Review. Having worked at The Dylan Thomas Birthplace in Swansea, Laura was last year listed in The Oxford Brookes International Poetry Prize and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She also became one of The Poetry Business’ New Poets and a BBC New Voice for 2017. Laura’s first BBC radio drama aired at Christmas, and she received a commendation from The Poetry Society in 2018.

Jamie Hale has written his whole life and studied English and Spanish BA (1st Hons).  He is interested in how poetry can sit alongside critical theory.  He explores the disruption of the relationship between self and body.  He has recently performed at the Saboteur Awards, Tate Modern and Barbican Centre.  His poetry has been most recently published in Poetry Quarterly, and his journalism has been published in the Guardian, Rooted in Rights, Unite magazine and the New Statesman.  He is currently developing a solo show exploring Shakespeare’s Richard III, and a nature poetry collection.

Frances Norton  lives with her husband and two teenage children. She is a lecturer and researcher at art school and a practicing artist,  musician and a poet. Her art work and poetry are about the patterns of life, and how that sequence believed to be unshakable, immovable, impermeable can become an interrupted ornament, and the variations,  imperfections,  mishaps and diversions that make life interesting. Her poetry and painting reflect and mirror each other.

Last Chance to Apply for a Bursary Place

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

The deadline for applying for one of our three Bursary places is midnight tonight! Two places available for a low-income writer and one available for a writer who identifies as disabled.

Please don’t hesitate to apply.  A bursary covers accommodation and some meals and a Festival Pass to get into most events.  Please see our previous post for more information

To apply email the following in ONE document to

1. Please send in one document with your name, date of birth and email address and a short biography (100 words)
2. A 200 word statement outlining why it would be difficult for you to attend without a bursary and how you would benefit from the opportunity.
3. Contact details of a referee – someone who knows your work and knows you personally.
4. If you are applying for the place at the Castle Green Hotel, please make this clear in your application, and outline your specific access needs. This place is open for writers who identify as having a disability as defined by Disability Rights UK: A physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

Deadline for submission is May 31st. Decisions will be made by mid-June and results announced on this website.

2018 Programme

We are really excited to reveal our line up for the 2018 Kendal Poetry Festival.

We enjoyed ourselves so much last year we decided to add an extra night! On Thursday 6th February we are running a ‘Writing Summit’ Open Mic night at the Waterside Cafe in Kendal, in association with Kendal Mountain Festival and hosted by Dove Cottage Young Poets.  The Open Mic is another chance for festival goers to read their own work. This third instalment of the festival will be full of our usual mix of readings, open mics, workshops and discussions.

We also have a limited number of Festival Passes availabe at £45 each, if you like to go to lots of events. A Festival Pass will give you entry to most of the events over the weekend, excluding the Afternoon Tea with Brewery Poets, workshops which should be booked separately and the Thursday Night Writing Summit Open Mic. Events can also be booked separately and prices range from £5-£8.

We have appointed a new Young Poet in Residence, Matthew Sowerby, who made his debut appearance at Kendal Poetry Festival in the Open Mic session, and has been a member of Dove Cottage Young Poets ever since.  Our Young Musician in Residence is Alistair Burton, a brilliant young violinist who is a student at the Junior Royal Northern College of Music.  Hannah Hodgson will once again be our Young Blogger in Residence, so watch this space for interviews and poems from our 2018 Festival Poets.

We hope you enjoy browsing the events, and look forward to seeing you in Kendal in September.

‘Festival of the Year’ finalist in the Cumbria Life Cultural Awards

Pauline and I were really excited today to find out that the judges of the Cumbria Life Cultural Awards have chosen Kendal Poetry Festival to be one of their finalists for the ‘Festival of the Year’ category.  For the festival to achieve this in its first year of existence is pretty special, and we couldn’t have done it without our wonderful audiences and our wonderful young poets and musician who made the atmosphere completely unique.  We’d also like to thank our ‘Dream Team’ of Festival Poets, who travelled the length and breadth of the country to come and read at the festival.

The results will be announced at a special awards ceremony on February 3rd at The Theatre By The Lake in Keswick.  This will be around the same time as we will hear from the Arts Council regarding our bid for funding, so if you see us looking slightly haunted and stressed this will be why!

We can’t release details of our 2017 line up until we have secured our funding, but we have got another fabulous line up for you, and we’re finding it very hard to stay quiet about it! Expect to hear some details of the programme very soon…