Nottingham Poetry Festival is bursting into life this week (26-29 May) with more than 3,000 expected to enjoy the celebration of creativity taking place across the city’s pubs, bookshops, libraries, theatres and community venues.
Opening with a launch party on 25th May, the poetry festival gets underway in earnest on Friday 26th with a four-day programme featuring nationally acclaimed poets Brian Bilston and Yomi Sode making their Nottingham debuts along with the very best of homegrown wordsmiths including Jah Digga’s brilliant collective Poets off the Endz.
While some shows are now sold out, there’s still time to pick up tickets for events including the immensely talented Yomi Sode on Sunday 28 May. Yomi is a ‘once in a generation’ artist and will be reading from his profound and moving debut Manorism ‘a thrillingly original book that examines the lives of Black boys and men in Britain’. Described as a beautiful storyteller, this thought-provoking show at the Royal Concert Hall is a must for all lovers of poetry and its power.
With loads of free festival events - from writing workshops, live music and open mics to secret poetry drop ins for shy poets, events for creatives of the future and writing for wellbeing - there is something for everyone.
Nottingham Poetry Festival’s Tommy Rosley said: “From being pushed to new limits by a global pandemic to baring all on stages across the city, the festival lives on because of the shared hope of the incredible community that has continued to rally behind its banner for eight years. With a new creative team in place, this year’s festival packs a punch with an amazing selection of events, workshops and safe spaces to create, collaborate and connect with Nottingham’s poetry community.”
This year’s outing takes place at venues across the city including Lakeside Arts, City Arts, The Old Cold Store, Waterstones, Five Leaves Bookshop, Hopkinsons, Fox and Grapes and many more. The Nottingham Poetry Hub in Sidedoor Studios, Cobden Place is the beating heart of the festival and place to find out what’s going on over the weekend. All the 40+ poems submitted to the festival will be on display in the hub along with poetry puzzles for all ages.
Top picks by the festival team
Festival Launch Party, Fox & Grapes, 25 May
The festival launch party gets things underway with an open mic, performance and poetry face painting at the Castle Rock Brewery - a long-standing supporter of the festival - Fox & Grapes pub in Sneinton. Perfect way to get a taste of what the festival has in store. All welcome.
Brian Bilston, The Old Cold Store, 26 May (Sold Out) & 27 May
Described as the Banksy of poetry and Twitter’s unofficial Poet Laureate, Brian Bilston’s Friday night show has already sold out with a very low number of tickets left for the extra matinee show added for Sat 27 May. With his lively humorous verse, Brian has become truly beloved by the online community. He will be reading poems, signing books and ‘generally inflicting myself on an unsuspecting or unreceptive public’. Be quick to grab the last few tickets.
Poets Off The Endz, Lakeside Arts, 27 May (Sold Out)
After a sellout show last year, Poets Off The Endz is once again sold out. The spoken word platform born from an online series of the same name is Jah Digga’s brilliant collective, and will deliver some incredible verse, Notts style.
World Jam’s Musical, Multilingual Poetry Open Mic, Five Leaves Bookshop, 27 May
A poetry open mic with an acoustic musical backing, where anyone in any language can speak and jam their words with musicians from around the world. Featuring anything from African drumming and improv, to opera singers and Ukuleles, World Jam aims to bring people of all backgrounds together and support the wellbeing and community integration of marginalised groups through music and poetry.
Creatives of the Future, Waterstones, 27 May
Whether you’re an aspiring writer, bedroom poet or just fancy a relaxed afternoon out, this is the place to find out how to get involved in Nottingham’s creative community in this special event designed for young people, by young people. Nottingham UNESCO City Of Literature’s Youth Advisory Board is inviting young people with an interest in the creative arts to join them for creative activities, open conversations and open mic performances.
Hopkinson’s Poetry Yard, 27 May
Performances, music, tasty treats and an open mic, plus mystery poetry activities for all ages. Nottingham’s first Young Poet Laureate Georgina Wilding will be helping you write a “poem for our planet”, a collaborative creation with Green Hustle Festival. LeftLion photography editor, Fabrice Gagos will also be in the building offering professional headshots for poets and creatives (book slot via festival website).
Creative Reactions: A Poetry And Artistry Workshop, Mimm Studios, 28 May
Take part in a workshop that explores different types of artistry with poetry. Feast your ears on music performances from JayaHadADream, Ty Healy and Omari Marsalis during which you will be guided in responding creatively to the performance whether with words,drawings or perhaps even dance!
Tear your Poem Apart with Josh Judson, Nottingham Writers Studio, 29 May
“Kill your darlings” It’s a piece of advice that writers receive at some point in their creation. This brilliant workshop will give you the space to look at one of your poems and get really ruthless with the editing. Maybe you have a piece you just cannot get right, or a first draft that you’re still unsure of, bring it along to this workshop with Nottingham poet Josh and find the poem hidden inside.
Nottingham Poetry Festival Closing Party, Fox & Grapes, 29 May
Help us close the festival in style and enjoy showcase performances curated
by the NPF team. Read us your poems at the “open all day and open to all, open
mic” or hear brand new poetry from festival workshop attendees, you can even illustrate your poems alongside our doodler in residence, Raphael Achache. Dancing and singing will be encouraged.
Five Leaves Bookshop is offering 15 percent off all purchases over the weekend, the alcohol free Hungry Ghost Cafe (next to festival hub) is offering 20 percent discounts; for a pint with your poetry, head to Fox & Grapes offering discounts to festival attendees, plus don’t miss collections from poets published by Bad Betty Press and Big White Shed available at festival venues to enjoy.
The festival has been awarded National Lottery Project Funding by Arts Council England and is supported by Confetti Media Group and Castle Rock.
For more information, go to www.nottinghampoetryfestival.com
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