This year’s poetry festival, which lasted for one week from 21 – 30 April took over from what was Nottingham Festival of Literature and was organised by the comedian, writer and poet Henry Normal.
The programme for the festival was full to the brim with over 50 events featuring a wide range of poets, both from inside and outside Nottingham, and featured big names in poetry such as Carol Ann Duffy and John Cooper Clarke. I attended the following events which showcased the breadth of poetic talent in our city.
On Saturday 22, a poetry slam took place at Nottingham Mechanics, judged by poet and facilitator Jim Hall, whose only criteria was that the poems made him feel something.
There were performances from Panya Banjoko, and former Mouthy poets, Joshua Judson, Matt Miller and Neal Pike, as well as other familiar faces from the poetry scene.
In the end, Jim chose a wonderful poet Gloria for third place, whose soft-spoken poems made an impression on the judge and audience alike. Second place went to emerging performance poet Jake Wildeman, with first place awarded to Matt Miller, whose poems about love and home were poignant enough to win him £30 in prize money.
Jim, who was assisted by Jeremy, the chair of Nottingham Poetry Society, said, ‘[Matt] really thought about the time limit. It was a whole journey within three minutes and I learnt a lot about him. It was quite a clear one for me.’
On Sunday 23, Rough Trade was the home of Book Off, which began with a workshop in ‘found poetry’ whereby participants used magazines to create poems by cutting or blacking out selected words. The day continued with a performance poetry workshop by Jamie Thrasivoulou and Sophie Sparham, which covered issues such as heckling, performing politically sensitive poems and the best way to introduce yourself to your audience.
Bridie hit her teammate Joshua’s face with a wet teabag to demonstrate schadenfreude
At this point, sportswear-clad poets began to assemble for Poetercize: the Poetry Game Show hosted by Stephen Thomas. This round was the decider between Bridie Squires and Joshua Judson vs Chris McLoughlin and Milla Tebbs. The event was delayed due to technical problems, but was handled with humour. The show featured That Welsh Woman, interpretive dance and audience participation.
Bridie hit her teammate Joshua’s face with a wet teabag to demonstrate schadenfreude, and Chris ate orange peel in a desperate bid to be the best…but in the end it was Chris and Milla who were crowned champions.
On Tuesday 25, Debbie Bryan in the Lace Market welcomed Some Poets from Big White Shed for an evening of performances from poets that have been published by BWS and poets that they would like to see published.
The event celebrated what Anne describes as ‘peer publishing’ and featured poems from Neal Pike, Stephen Thomas, Midnight Shelley, Trevor Wright and Jim Hall among many others.
Continuing the celebration of publishing was Mud Press on Friday 28 at the launch of their latest anthology Woman. Mud Press is a publishing house which was set up by Georgina Wilding.
The event took place at Cobden Chambers and replicated the festival vibe but on a smaller scale. There were live artists, music, face painting and a poetry kissing booth.
I’ve only covered a tiny portion of the poetry festival, and my experience was exactly what I wanted it to be. It was a week of celebration that both poets and poetry lovers could appreciate.