Well, only days to go before Wenlock Poetry Festival! The Festival launches on Friday 24 April with Kei Miller, Hannah Lowe and Luke Kennard, with Mia Cunningham – and it sweeps to a close on Sunday night 26 April when the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Queen’s Gold Medallist Imtiaz Dharker, Little Machine and, er, me, take to the stage in the Finale.
As Poet in Residence, I’m hugely looking forward to being based in Much Wenlock all weekend, and oxter-deep in poetry. My collaborative poetry and photography exhibition Luck’s Weight, opens on Friday at the official Festival launch, and will be in Priory Hall all weekend. Then at 9am on Saturday morning I’m taking part in the lovely Poetry Breakfast in Tea on the Square, with Anna Dreda and Steve Harrison. Words, coffee, croissants, this must be what heaven looks like. Next I’m starting off the Wenlock Poetry Busk, which opens at 12 noon in the Methodist Church, and in between events (and my own efforts to go to as many as possible) you’ll find me thundering away on my 1932 Imperial Typewriter in a corner of Priory Hall – please interrupt, I’m sure I’ll need to rest my fingers… I aim to hear the wonderful Jonathan Edwards, and I’m hugely looking forward to Michael Rosen (supported by my friend Paul Francis) on Saturday night.
Come Sunday I want to snatch a few minutes in the Ambulance with my friend Deb Alma, the Emergency Poet. I’ve been her assistant (Nurse Verse) before, but reckon it’s my turn on the couch to be soothed and given my poetic prescription. I also want to go see what Wenlock’s Publisher in Residence is up to – that’s Jane Commane at the discerning, innovative Nine Arches Press.
Then at 1pm I’m In Conversation with Roz Goddard up at The Edge. Roz is a wonderful poet, and furthermore I’ve been lucky enough to work with her (with her West Midlands Readers’ Network hat on) all winter as Reader in Residence at Southwater Library, and she is, simply, magic. Then I’m involved in presenting the prizes for Wenlock International Poetry Competition, which was judged by Imtiaz Dharker, one of my own very favourite poets. I helped with the sift, and the quality was terrific – so the winners have really earned it.
I shall rush off to catch Oversteps Poets reading at Wenlock Pottery, then back to the final performance of Expanding the Universe – a unique event involving two poets, a musician and an astrophysicist. I’d love to see Kathleen Jamie (supported by my friend Liz Lefroy) if I can – and then I need to get ready for that Finale. Find a minute to eat something. If I can.
Being Poet in Residence at Wenlock this year has been filled with wonderful opportunities that I’m so grateful for. This Festival really has a very special atmosphere, and is run by amazing people. Make sure you come and join in if you can!