For the past year, Pauline Yarwood and I have been plotting to put together Kendal’s first poetry festival.
We’ve spent the year meeting at each other’s houses, making soup and cups of tea to keep ourselves going as we started to map out what we wanted the festival to look like. We drew up a dream team of poets, and sent emails off around the country to tempt said poets. We searched Kendal for possible venues. We worked out budgets and booked hotel rooms. We gathered biographies of poets and photos of poets and researched costs of brochures and websites. We contacted book stores and local businesses. We filled in grant applications and got advice from people who had ran festivals before.
Pauline and I first met at Brewery Poets, a poetry group that meets once a month in Kendal to workshop each other’s poems. Brewery Poets has always organised two readings a year at The Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal and a small amount of the funding for the festival comes through subscriptions from Brewery Poets. Some of the Brewery Poets will be volunteering throughout the festival, although we are also hoping that they get a chance to relax and be part of the audience as well.
When we found out at the beginning of 2016, that we’d been awarded a grant from both the Sir John Fisher Foundation and the Arts Council, Pauline was in Australia visiting family. We shouted down the phone at each other for a few minutes before moving on to dancing around the room. Since that rather giddy phonecall, we’ve been working hard to pull the festival together. It’s fair to say that we’ve become used to emailing each other at midnight or later.
Now we are only three months away, and as you can imagine, we’re both really excited about the prospect of all our hard work coming to fruition. The poets we’ve picked this year are unashamedly some of our favourite writers working today. I say some, because we couldn’t fit all our favourites in! There will be readings, workshops and talks about poetry and writing, all taking place in the wonderful location of The Abbott Hall Art Gallery.
Throughout the festival, members from the Dove Cottage Young Poets group will be reading alongside our invited guest poets. I’ve been working closely with the young poets for a couple of years now, and I can honestly say that they enthuse me about poetry every time we meet, and I’m sure they will do the same for audiences at the festival.
Friend of the festival and lovely poet David Tait went through a number of applications from the Dove Cottage Young Poets and selected Hannah Hodgson as our Young Poet in Residence at the festival. Hannah will read at the launch of the festival on Friday night and will receive some one-to-one mentoring from Clare Shaw.
No poetry festival would be complete without some brass playing of course and this year we have a Young Musician in Residence, David Griffiths, who is a fantastic young trumpet player based in South Cumbria. He will also be performing at the launch of the festival and in the Closing Reading of the festival.
A weekend pass is available for £33 which will get you into all the events of the festival, apart from the Brewery Open Mic and the Poetry Business Workshop. We’ll be posting regular updates on the website, so do keep your eye out. See you in June!