The Poetry Trust Future - News Update

The Poetry Trust would like to make an important announcement regarding its future. Given the difficult funding situation in the arts at the moment, we have decided that it’s the right time to take a pause and review how we operate.

For many years The Trust has fought hard to raise enough funds for all the activity it undertakes as a year-round organisation and this precarious financial position does pose a threat to the future of the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. By re-setting the nature and scope of the organisation we can minimise that threat going forward.

With these changes to the structure and scope of The Poetry Trust, we are no longer in a position to have a full time Director and the role of Director has ceased. The rest of the team will also be leaving at the end of the year, for other opportunities or because their posts were closed. In addition to this, The Poetry Trust will be leaving its office at The Cut in Halesworth from the end of December.

The Festival
This is certainly not the end of the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. The Poetry Trust board is working closely with our key partners to effect a successful transition into a newer, smaller structure. The Poetry Trust’s related activities – The Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, the Aldeburgh Eight Seminar, The Poetry Prom and the Suffolk Young Poets Competition – will all be reviewed in the light of our future structure and costs.

Our Supporters
We would certainly like to thank all those who have supported The Poetry Trust. For those who have given money in direct support of the 2015 Festival – this has gone towards the costs of that. Donations received after 31 December 2015 will be returned to donors/Friends. If you are a Friend, please cancel your standing order from 1 Jan 2016. All sponsors and friends should have been contacted directly. If you have not received communications, please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

The Future
At this stage it is too early to answer if there will be a Festival next year. In early 2016, after our strategic review, we will make an announcement. Please be assured we are absolutely intent on maintaining the existence of our Festival, along with its excellence. A showcase for poetry and poets from around the world, a commitment to new voices, a close engagement with poetic craft – these are all the things you care passionately about and which we want to see endure. But we need to do this on a secure financial footing.

We are very keen to keep in touch and maintain the goodwill and support of our loyal friends. We will be issuing future updates as soon as we have more news to share. Please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you require information.



Aldeburgh Poetry Festival 2015 Gallery

Here's a chance to relive the 2015 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in pictures – we've just uploaded our Festival gallery to the website.

There are always too many excellent photo's to upload! Which to choose? We hope these will entertain and that you enjoy looking back at those moments.

Big thanks, as ever, to Festival photographers Peter Everard Smith and Nathan Berry for capturing the weekend so brilliantly.

The 2015 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival gallery


Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2015 – The Winner

From a shortlist of five outstanding titles, the three judges (Patience Agbabi, Tiffany Atkinson and Robert Seatter) unanimously agreed that the prize should go to Andrew McMillan for physical which is published in the UK by Cape.

Responding to the news of his win, Andrew said: “I’m overwhelmed to have won this prize, as I was to be nominated amongst poets who I admire and am lucky enough to be able to call friends. Aldeburgh has always been really kind to me, from when I first read there as a ‘New Voice’ in 2012; the protected writing time will be a wonderful way to get back into the swing of writing and start building towards a second collection. Aldeburgh feels like one of those rare places that celebrates and discovers new poets, at home and internationally. It’ll be a thrill to be back in that atmosphere – I began writing these poems not really believing anyone else would ever enjoy them or want to read them – it began as an act of redemption or of salvaging things from the unfortunate or accidental moments of my life – to be recognised in this way is more than I deserve, and I’m most grateful”

Robin Robertson – Poetry Editor at Cape and publisher of physical – writes:
“While one should never write with them in mind, prizes do offer some financial support and external validation: both particularly welcome to poets at the beginning of their careers. I was immediately taken by the vigour and tenderness of Andrew’s work, and look forward to seeing how it develops.”

The three judges commented as follows:

“physical demands a visceral response: we feel the breath, taste the sweat, hear these poems on the page. This intelligent homage to masculinity takes bold risks in form and content. Memorable and quite often, electrifying.” Patience Agbabi

“A dazzling meditation on contemporary masculinity, both unflinching and tender, intimate and performative, this collection marks the arrival of a significant new voice in contemporary poetry.” Tiffany Atkinson

“A journey into what it is to be masculine: muscular language that shape shifts its subject in utterly new and insightful ways.” Robert Seatter (Chair)

Now in its fourth year of generous funding by The Fenton Arts Trust, and with further two more years support agreed, the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize is valuable not simply as a cash prize – £2500 – but also for its emphasis on developing talent. Uniquely, the winner also receives a week of ‘protected’ writing time on the inspirational Suffolk coast and – most significantly – an invitation to read at the subsequent Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, thereby reaching the UK’s largest and most dedicated contemporary poetry audience.


Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection - shortlist announced

The three poet/judges were unanimous about the outstanding quality of entries and the difficulty of narrowing down to just five titles.
Patience Agbabi said: “The assurance of voice, the formal experimentation, the level of ambition in subject matter and delivery: these didn’t read like debut collections. Some poems made me gasp out loud, the language was so alive.”
Tiffany Atkinson said: “Each of these shortlisted books is an example of the power and dazzling potential of a new generation of poetic voices.”
Robert Seatter (Chair) said: “Every one of our five shortlisted poets felt like a winner – they had all written confident collections in coherent, consistent voices, they had all excited us with their very different visions of the world in language that was personal, authentic and thrilling.”

Liz Berry Black Country (Chatto & Windus)
Jim Carruth Killochries (Freight Poetry)
Karen McCarthy Woolf An Aviary of Small Birds (Carcanet)
Andrew McMillan physical (Cape Poetry)
Rebecca Perry Beauty/Beauty (Bloodaxe Books)

Two books – physical by Andrew McMillan and An Aviary of Small Birds by Karen McCarthy Woolf – also appear on the Forward Best First Collection shortlist, but in it’s 26 year history, only once has a poet scooped both prizes (Robin Robertson in 1997).

This year’s winner will be announced at the start of the first main reading at Aldeburgh Poetry Festival at 8.30pm on Friday 6 November 2015 at which last year’s winner, Helen Mort, will read together with Kei Miller and Jeremy Reed.

The Poetry Trust is extremely grateful to the ongoing support of the Prize by the Fenton Arts Trust.



Suffolk Young Poets Competition Winners

The most exciting part of winning a Suffolk Young Poets Competition prize is the experience of sharing your poem with the big Aldeburgh Poetry Festival audience in a brilliant venue at Snape Maltings. The event is a one-off opportunity for whole families and school groups to applaud Suffolk’s most talented young poets. Taking place early on Friday evening 6 November, the prizewinners’ reading is the perfect way to kick off the Festival weekend. This year 11 (one more than usual, they were so good) young poets will receive their prizes and read their winning poems alongside an exhilarating new poet for younger readers, Joanne Limburg. Her brilliant first collection for children, Bookside Down, was shortlisted, and highly commended, for the CLPE Poetry Award.

Special mention goes to Suffolk One on the outskirts of Ipswich with the strongest overall entries for which they receive the Hardiman Scott Cup.

Also this year, for the first time, the schools are taking part in Young Poets Friday, an afternoon of workshops at Snape before the reading takes place.

Read the poems here and more about the prize here

Book tickets here

With thanks to:
Arts Council England
East Anglian Daily Times
Ernest Cook Trust
The Limbourne Trust
Suffolk Poetry Society


The Autumn has Arrived

It’s been one of those years when summer seemed to switch off at the end of August and suddenly it really does feel like autumn. But we can definitely promise you at least one glorious bright spot on the horizon – it’s not long to the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival.

You’ll have seen the poets who will be providing this year’s Aldeburgh Experience – the ultimate poetry weekend jammed full of readings, talks and conversations. It means that, unlike other some other literary festivals, you can hear more from each poet than a brief reading. It’s a chance to get close to the nitty-gritty of their work and discover exactly how they write as well as the poems that have inspired them.

It’s been eleven years since American Tony Hoagland made his UK debut at Aldeburgh in 2004. We’re welcoming him back with his brand-new fifth collection, Application for Release from the Dream. At Snape Maltings in November you’ll be able to hear Tony read from his new book, deliver a Craft Talk on Idiom and Culture, he’ll be taking part in an international conversation about Poetry and Freedom with Kim Addonizio, Choman Hardi and Pedro Serrano, and leading the Festival Sunday lecture on Sharon Olds. By the end of the weekend you’ll have really got to know Tony’s work and his enthusiasms. That’s just one of the experiences that makes Aldeburgh so special…

Browse the full Festival programme if you don’t have a copy to hand.

And don’t forget you can now book your Festival tickets online


Little Champion

When I get hopeless about human life,
which, to be frank, is far too difficult for me,
I try to remember that in the desert there is
a little butterfly that lives by drinking urine.

And when I have to take the bus to work on Saturday,
to spend an hour opening the mail,
deciding what to keep and throw away,
one piece at a time,

I think of the butterfly following its animal around,
through the morning and the night,
fluttering, weaving sideways through
the cactus and the rocks.

And when I have to meet all Tuesday afternoon
with the committee to discuss new by-laws,
or listen to the dinner guest exhaustively describe
his recipe for German beer,

or hear the scholar tell, again,
about her campaign to destroy, once and for all,
the vocabulary of heteronormativity,

I think of that tough little champion
with orange and black markings on its wings
resting in the shade beneath a ledge of rock
while its animal sleeps nearby;

and I see how the droplets hang and gleam among
the thorns and drab green leaves of desert plants
and how the butterfly alights and drinks from them
deeply, with a stillness of utter concentration.

Tony Hoagland
from Application for Release from the Dream (Bloodaxe 2015)


Dean Parkin Stepping Down

Dean Parkin, Creative Director at The Poetry Trust, will step down from his post after this year’s Aldeburgh Poetry Festival 2015. ‘I feel that it’s the right time to leave, because I want to devote myself to a freelance career – as a poet and workshop leader –which has seriously taken off during the last three years. With big projects and ambitions lined up for 2016, it’s time to stop juggling! I’ve had 16 glorious years at The Poetry Trust and encountered many wonderful poets along the way. I’ve met and interviewed all my original heroes – Adrian Mitchell, Roger McGough and Brian Patten – and gained a few more on the way – Alastair Reid, Kay Ryan, Philip Levine and Thomas Lux. I’ve devised and edited a magazine (The Poetry Paper), I’ve curated The Poetry Channel, and I’ve got to programme the best poetry festival in the UK. All this with such a lovely team over the years. I couldn’t have asked for a more brilliant and absorbing job.’

Dean’s relationship with The Poetry Trust began in 2000, as co-ordinator of the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival Fringe, and he went on to become assistant to the then Director, Naomi Jaffa, before graduating first to Artists & Projects Manager and latterly Creative Director. ‘I’ve had a lot of fancy titles but essentially my role grew as the Trust and especially the Festival grew. When I started there were 12 events in one venue. Now there are 66 spread across 13 venues on two sites! Basically I’ve always done whatever has been necessary to make the Festival happen.’

Dean’s long-awaited first full collection – The Swan Machine (published by The Rialto) – will be launched at the Festival and the growth of his freelance career has ensured a packed diary throughout 2015. He’s in constant demand to work with people of all ages from 5 to 100 years. And this year he’s been particularly busy delivering his own Poem for Suffolk project which now climaxes with a five-date tour across the county (19-25 September, ‘I always intended to remain at The Poetry Trust to support its new Director for her first year in post, but I’ve also been aware of it being time to embrace a whole new challenge. While of course I’m sad to be leaving, I’m also excited as I feel like now is the best possible moment to make the break and invest full-time in my own work.’


Poetry Prom 2015

We had a wonderful Prom this summer, with the warmth in the room very much making up for the rain earlier in the day. Ellen, our Director, keeps being stopped in the street by people saying how good a night it was! Naomi Shihab Nye moved the audience to a wild ovation with an inspiring set that took in everything from unexpected gifts from a homeless woman in London to being an Arabic translator in an airport, each poem and story reflecting the joy that Naomi brings to – and draws from – every place she’s in. Mark Doty had the audience roaring with laughter and then brought them abruptly face to face with more serious and topical issues – such as the shooting of an unarmed boy – in a powerful and politically unafraid performance. Both poets loved their visit to the Snape Proms, and reportedly raved about it at their Edinburgh International Book Festival appearances later in the week. Both were deeply moved by their visit to Keats House in London with Poet in the City beforehand, and their talk with our new Chair, Robert Seatter, went down a storm. So their three-stop tour of the UK, organised by the Poetry Trust, has proved a great success! See more photos here


Helen Mort Podcast on The Poetry Channel

We're very much looking forward to welcoming Helen Mort - the 2014 Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize - to the Festival this autumn. In addition to her reading, she'll also be delivering a Craft Talk and leading the Masterclass. Back in the spring we welcomed Helen to Suffolk for her week’s writing retreat. This is another part of the unique Prize and for her retreat, she stayed in a house by the sea in Thorpeness (five minutes down the road from Aldeburgh). While she was there we sent our Creative Director Dean Parkin to interview her about her week on the coast and her Prizewinning book ‘Division Street’ amongst other things. To hear more, listen to the podcast now.




The 2015 Aldeburgh Eight Announced

‘Aldeburgh Eight’ is an eight day course linked to the international Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, offering a unique opportunity – professional and creative – for eight carefully selected poets early in their publishing careers. Seminar participants begin with an immersive three days at the Festival in November, immediately followed by an intensive five-day rural retreat at Bruisyard Hall in the Suffolk countryside. Previous graduates – for example Helen Mort who is coming back to read at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival this year – have gone on to win prizes, publication and wider acclaim. The tutors are Peter Sansom and Jackie Wills who helped pick the winners along with The Poetry Trust team who run the scheme.

We received a record-breaking 119 applications (up from 85 last year and 66 in 2013) this year. Congratulations go to John Challis (Tyne & Wear), Josephine Corcoran (Wiltshire), Suzannah Evans (Sheffield), Seán Hewitt (Cheshire), Anita Pati (London), Kathy Pimlott (London), Andrew Rudd (Cheshire), and Miranda Yates (New Mills), the eight poets who will be taking up this accelerated eight days of development. Age is no barrier to success on this scheme – poets this year range in age from 25 - 66 – and we’re looking forward to welcoming the 2015 Aldeburgh Eight to Suffolk this autumn.

‘Each year I’ve been struck by the seriousness and generosity of the writers, and have felt privileged to be part of something so worthwhile. The packed week has always felt more like a month, or maybe even a year – though much more fun than that sounds, because it goes by in the blink of an eye.’
says tutor, Peter Sansom.

With thanks to Bruisyard Hall, the Garrick Charitable Trust and the Idlewild Trust, and the Arts Council, for supporting this scheme.


Imtiaz Dharker joins Board of The Poetry Trust

We are pleased to announce that Imtiaz Dharker has joined the Board of The Poetry Trust. She is ideally placed in the international poetry world to help the Trust move forward to the next stage of its development under its new Director, Ellen McAteer.

Imtiaz is a long term friend of the Trust having memorably appeared at many of its events in the past. She first read at the 2010 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and went down a storm at the Poetry Prom in a packed Snape Maltings Concert Hall in August 2012. Imtiaz was also one of the judges for the 2014 Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize.

“I have long admired the achievements of the Poetry Trust, its ambition and insistence on quality. It provides a home for poetry not just at the wonderful Aldeburgh Poetry Festival but all year round, at live events and online, nurturing new talent and building audiences worldwide.” said Imtiaz on her appointment. “This is why I am honoured to join the board and work with the people who, even in challenging times, have made it an outstanding meeting-point for poets and poetry-lovers.”



Aldeburgh Poetry Commission 2015

The poet Gerry Loose and the photographer and land artist Morven Gregor have been commissioned to produce this year’s cross-art collaboration for the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in November. Previously awarded to Hannah Silva, the performance artist, and to Ian McMillan and Fran Crowe the year before (resulting in a book), this year’s project will be a visual art and poetry collaboration between Morven and Gerry across the two festival sites of Snape Maltings and Aldeburgh.

They came to visit the two sites this month. Gerry writes:
“Absolutely delighted to be offered the 2015 Aldeburgh Poetry Commission, I was equally excited to visit for the first time the various venues where the Festival happens. Overwhelmed by the evocative, provocative sea-, sky- and landscapes, not to mention the long littorals, thoughts, ideas and plans began bubbling from first sightings. My collaborator, the artist/photographer Morven Gregor and I were further enthused by hearing snippets of lore and history from our Aldeburgh and Snape Maltings hosts and guides. From this the possibilities of poetry and image began their first fusions. Drawing on our own boating and water dwelling histories together with decades-long experience of reading landscapes (all part of our different artistic processes) we can glimpse the directions our work can go to fulfil this challenging Commission.”



Two new podcasts to pick up today

We’ve published another double-bill of podcasts gleaned from last November’s Aldeburgh Poetry Festival.

Aldeburgh Backchat: Thomas Lux
Thomas Lux talks about his childhood in 1950s in America during an ‘Age of Science’ and being engaged by language as a teenager, the development of his writing process and the importance of being aware of every syllable.

Aldeburgh Backchat: Togara Muzanenhamo
Togara Muzanenhamo on living on a commercial family farm in Zimbabwe, finding poetry among the maize, soya beans and cattle and doing the mechanical work of writing and his ideal schedule.


Listen or download now from The Poetry Channel or via Soundcloud



The Poetry Prom 2015 - Mark Doty & Naomi Shihab Nye

We’re thrilled to announce this year’s line-up: Mark Doty and Naomi Shihab Nye, two world-class US poets, who are all set to appear on stage together for the first time at our 12th Poetry Prom in Snape Maltings Concert Hall this summer. So make sure you put the Wednesday 26th August in your diary now!

Both poets have visited Suffolk before – Mark, whose long-awaited ninth collection Deep Lane will be published in the spring, read at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in 2002. Naomi made her UK debut at Aldeburgh in 2006 and a new edition of her Selected Poems will be published to coincide with the Poetry Prom in August.

Although they have never read together, Mark and Noami love one another’s work and are pretty much as excited as we are at the prospect of this iconic summer reading. The tickets will go on sale in May – keep clicking back to this website for more details.

For more details of their work, visit the Poetry Prom events page.



New Tutor for Aldeburgh Eight

New Tutor For The Aldeburgh Eight

Since 2007 the Aldeburgh Eight (formerly the Aldeburgh Advanced Seminar) has provided an annual intensive, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for emerging poets – 56 of whom have now benefitted from working with co-tutors Michael Laskey and Peter Sansom. After turning 70 last year, Michael announced his decision to step down and following much thought (and liaising with Peter and Michael too) we are now delighted to announce that Jackie Wills will be the Aldeburgh Eight’s new co-tutor in 2015.

Jackie has published six collections, most recently Woman’s Head As Jug (Arc 2014). Her first Powder Tree (Arc 1995) was both a PBS Recommendation and shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize. A Royal Literary Fund Fellow 2009-12, she’s led schools and public courses for Arvon, and her numerous residencies include one at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in 2004. She has also been guest co-editor for The North and has reviewed for Poetry Wales and Warwick Review and Mslexia magazines. She has also returned to Aldeburgh as a member of the Festival audience – including last November – and she is delighted and excited to be co-tutoring the Aldeburgh Eight with Peter Sansom this autumn.

Applications for the Aldeburgh Eight Advanced Seminar (6 – 13 November 2015) will open in March. More details in next month’s STUFF.



Helen Mort In Suffolk This March

We’re very much looking forward to welcoming Helen Mort, our most recent Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection winner, to Suffolk at the end of March. She’ll be here for her week’s protected writing time – one of the unique and most valuable features of the Prize. Helen has won many awards throughout her writing life, not least because she started young, setting a record as a five times winner of the Foyle Young Poets Award. She’s moved up the ranks at Aldeburgh too – attending the Aldeburgh Advanced Seminar (now the Aldeburgh Eight) in 2009 and taking part in the Festival Masterclass led by Jamie McKendrick that same year. Then in 2011 as one of the New Voices, she read alongside Emily Berry, Hannah Lowe and Sam Riviere. And of course she’ll be back in Suffolk this autumn as one of the main poets on the 27th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival programme (6-8 November 2015). We’ll be interviewing Helen next month, so you can look forward to a new podcast later in the spring. In the meantime, here’s a poem from Division Street, her brilliant first collection.


The lives you have in other people’s dreams
are lives no less. Tonight, for instance,
you are kissing the proprietor of SPAR

in a store room full of oranges. A school friend
has you kneeling in a layby of a mountain pass
grappling with the front tyre of a truck,

and though your hair is jet black for disguise,
you are the photographer in your mother’s
nightmare, angling the camera at her door.

Each morning, you must gather up these lives
and hold them tight, walk carefully downstairs,
slow as the girl in your own brief dream

who clutched a dozen long-stemmed roses
to her dress, until they merged
into a bloodstain on her ruined breast.

Helen Mort
Division Street (Chatto & Windus 2013)


Helen Mort (left) with Catherine Ormell and Meryl Pugh at Jamie McKendrick’s Masterclass at Aldeburgh Poetry Festival 2009



Two new podcasts on The Poetry Channel

Two more podcasts are now available on The Poetry Channel, both harvested from last November’s Aldeburgh Poetry Festival.

Aldeburgh Backchat: Jen Benka
Jen Benka, the Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets, talks about the balance between her day job and her creative life as a poet, the unlikely origins of the Academy and the challenges in the digital age for poetry.

Aldeburgh Backchat: Tom Pickard
North-east icon Tom Pickard on co-founding the legendary Morden Tower readings in Newcastle and being mentored by Basil Bunting, and the inspiration of oppression and the best way to deal with anger in poetry.




Poetry Paper Issue 11 now available online

The very latest edition of The Poetry Paper is now available as a Flipbook online. Just click here to view Issue 11 – you’ll find the answers to our Question to All Poets, ‘What are you looking for?’. Six poets including Selima Hill and Julian Stannard respond to questions about ‘Finding Your Voice’; Dan O’Brien and photographer/reporter Paul Watson talk about their collaboration and the work of witnessing; Australia’s Bronwyn Lea dissects ‘the poetry bestseller’; Hannah Silva takes us behind her motivation and preparation for Schlock! Elsewhere, Kayo Chingonyi, Jonathan Edwards and Thomas Lux ruminate on teaching, and we go ‘Behind the Poem’ with Volker Braun. Not to mention great new poems from Kayo Chingonyi, Finuala Dowling, Suzannah Evans, Selima Hill, Thomas Lux, Dan O’Brien and Brian Patten.



Aldeburgh Poetry Festival 2014 Gallery

Here's a chance to relive the 2014 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in pictures – we've just uploaded our Festival gallery to the website. Big thanks, as ever, to Peter Everard Smith for capturing the weekend so brilliantly.

The 2014 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival gallery



Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2014 – Winner Announced

The winner of the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2014 – one of the most significant and long-established poetry awards in the UK – was announced at the opening of the 26th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival on Friday 7th November. From a shortlist of five outstanding titles, the three judges (Imtiaz Dharker, Robert Seatter and Anthony Wilson) unanimously agreed that the prize should go to Helen Mort for Division Street which is published in the UK by Chatto & Windus.

Winning this year’s Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize feels like a natural achievement for Helen Mort who has already benefited from The Poetry Trust’s talent development programmes. In 2009, she was one of eight up-and-coming poets selected for the highly-competitive Aldeburgh Advanced Seminar residential course in Suffolk; and in 2011 she took part in a ‘New Voices’ event at Aldeburgh Poetry Festival.

Responding to the news of her win, Helen said:

“Aldeburgh is a place I've always held dear – it was one of the first poetry festivals I ever went to and I fell in love with the location and atmosphere. The first time I attended, I was manning a stall on the main stage and listened to all the headline poets with a mixture of awe and exhilaration, never imagining I'd be one of them. And the chance to enjoy a week's protected writing time in Aldeburgh is much needed too. After you've written a first book, you crave time and space to return to the things that got you writing in the first place. So the Prize is not only recognition for my first book but a new start for my next project. I'm thrilled.”

Parisa Ebrahimi – Poetry Editor at Chatto & Windus and publisher of Division Street – writes:

“This is a wonderful moment for Division Street, and for Helen, who is the first ever Chatto poet to be awarded this prize. It is a fitting honour for a poet whose work will continue to grow in range and reach.”

The judges commented as follows:

Helen Mort negotiates Division Street with the skill of a tightrope walker. This is a poet taking finely-calculated risks with language, putting her life and times on the line, using every ounce of craft to balance on precarious edges.” Imtiaz Dharker

Division Street has it all: range and ambition, consistency of standard (no poem feels like a filler!), musicality and toughness, and poems that really address the here and now, while strangely seeming always to have been there – such a rightness and a deftness in her voice.” Robert Seatter (Chair)

“On every page there is music, toughness twined with tenderness, and always an amazing sense of control. Division Street is properly and richly ambitious, speaking to culture now in a way that is both eerily prescient (‘Seven Decapitations’) and a mirror to what has been lost (‘Scab’, ‘Pit Closure as a Tarantino Short’). That the book achieves this so consistently, and on so many levels – personal, psychological, historical – without ever sounding less than natural is a cause for celebration.” Anthony Wilson

To read the judges’ comments on all the shortlisted books, click here

Now in its third year of generous funding by The Fenton Arts Trust, and with further three-year support agreed, the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize is valuable not simply as a cash prize – £2,500 – but also for its emphasis on developing talent. Uniquely, the winner also receives a week of ‘protected’ writing time on the inspirational Suffolk coast and – most significantly – an invitation to read at the subsequent Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, thereby reaching the UK’s largest and most dedicated contemporary poetry audience. No other poetry prize offers such sustained investment and support.



They’ve built a Body Shop
in the old butchers’ district –
caul and pig skin giving way
to coconut oil, jojoba,
as if the cloying air
should remind us
there’s no such thing
as a simple kindness –
like the spring carnations
fetched from the earth to market stall
and while you wait, beheaded
for your buttonhole.

Helen Mort
from Division Street (Chatto & Windus)


Picture: (Below) Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize winner Helen Mort with Stephen Morris, Fenton Arts Trust



Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2014 – Judges’ Comments

The three judges were all agreed that each of the five titles shortlisted for this year's Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize was exceptional in its own right, and they were very keen to share their enthusiasm and admiration for each poet's achievement.


The short-listed collections are so different they could belong to five different worlds and yet each one sends up a flare that illuminates our times.

All of Fiona Benson’s Bright Travellers struggle to seed and flower, come to life out of arid beginnings, survive against great odds, or not. Against the currents of anxiety, danger and violence, these lives are given the tender attention of language which raises them towards the miraculous, ‘in a wind that knows we are mortal, porous,/a beautiful trick of the light’.

Niall Campbell’s poems live in the half-light between myth and the Moontide of the Hebridean islands where ‘the shadow casts out longer than the man’. This is spare writing, crafted to fit the solitude in the winter landscapes of the islands, their drowned wondering ‘whether they are now more moon than earth’.

David Tait’s Self-Portrait with the Happiness moves with great skill from Lakeland Fells to the ‘hefty rain’ in Guangzhou, from a sonnet written in the snow to phones that ‘rattled our pockets with voicemails’. While he holds nothing back in these poems of love, not-love and longing, the writing is precise and controlled, the tone starkly believable.

Jonathan EdwardsMy Family and Other Superheroes made me laugh out loud one minute and knocked me sideways with its beauty and honesty the next. This book reminded me that there is no substitute for finding the true voice, the experience that no-one else has lived or felt or had the heart to express in quite that way. This poet is an original, and I can’t wait to hear him read.


We loved and applauded Jonathan Edwards’ touching and humorous portrayal of Welshness (so hard to write well about affection, but he did it!); the muscular and wry lyricism of Helen Mort’s book bridging both the personal and the political; Fiona Benson’s deft probing of the darker side of the inner life; the authentic and charged world picture of Niall Campbell’s collection; and the precarious shifts and surprises of David Tait’s heart-delighting book.


On the basis of these five first collections, there is no reason to assume the careers of the poets who wrote them will be anything other than long, ambitious, and very fruitful. Tackling emotionally complex, often difficult material with honesty, directness and supreme technical control, each of them presents, opens up and navigates fully realised universes which give insight into what it is like to be alive in these islands at the start of the 21st century.

The 'sintered, nuclear core' of Fiona Benson's Bright Travellers is the body, from prehistoric fertility symbols and Van Gogh's bandaged ear to the rawness of miscarriage and childbirth. It is a book of griefs and miracles, circling again and again the question of what it means to be creative, and how we overcome the barriers that might prevent us achieving it. Bright Travellers weaves history, myth and landscape into a personal cry of gratitude for 'the marvellous elsewhere'.

The central metaphors of Niall Campbell's Moontide are that of the singer and the song: 'Am I some whistling ferryman,/ trailing my pen hand in the wake?' It is a book of stories, and stories about stories, beached whales, late whiskies, and messages in bottles which 'sink/ between the pier and the breakwater'. The book celebrates, 'allows' and answers all the songs it encompasses: 'day song, dusk song and night;/ the boatmen's tunes, the Spanish elegies.'

Jonathan Edwards's My Family and Other Superheroes walks that most difficult of poetic tightropes: the heartfelt memoir of family which dares to be both tender and funny. The titles alone are to die for: ‘Evel Knievel Jumps Over my Family’; ‘Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren in Crumlin for the Filming of Arabesque, June 1965’; ‘Half-time, Wales vs. Germany, Cardiff Arms Park, 1991’. Edwards has a fine way with set-piece forms which do not read like forms – and an even finer way with endings, pulling the rug from under the reader’s feet with surprise and delight.

‘What can we offer but love – / love and wonder’ is the question which permeates the poems of David Tait’s Self-Portrait with The Happiness. This is a book which merges self-awareness with undisguised frankness (‘As for beauty: I think I’ve experienced/ that moment in life that will flash/ before me at the end’) on the ‘hammerthrow’ of falling in love. Familiar with both midnight and the ‘cool gloom’ of dawn, Self-Portrait transforms those liminal spaces we all pass through – cigarettes at dawn, roadside lay-bys, the Gare du Nord, broken down cars and launderettes – into something strange and sacred.



Festival Programme Change: Volker Braun Withdrawal

With just days to go, Volker Braun has very sadly been forced to withdraw from this year’s Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. He has acute glaucoma and has been told by his doctors on no account to fly.

We are most grateful to acclaimed German literary translator Iain Galbraith for agreeing to step in at such short notice to ensure that the Festival can still showcase Volker Braun’s work. Iain will join Karen Leeder on Saturday at 2.15pm for the Talk: Bearing Witness – an exploration of the writing of Volker Braun and other leading German poets of the 20th century. At the Main Reading on Saturday at 7.30pm, he will read Volker Braun’s poems in German. And he will deliver the scheduled Close Reading on Sunday at 10.45am, focusing on the German war poem already selected by Volker Braun.

Iain Galbraith was born in Glasgow in 1956, grew up in the west of Scotland and studied Modern Languages and Comparative Literature at the universities of Cambridge, Freiburg and Mainz. His most recent publications include an anthology of Austrian poetry in English, The Night Begins with a Question (Carcanet/Scottish Poetry Library, 2007), and a substantial anthology of 20th-century Scottish poetry in German, Beredter Norden: Schottische Gedichte seit 1900 (Edition Rugerup, 2011). Recent translated volumes of poetry include Alfred Kolleritsch’s Selected Poems (Shearsman, 2007), John Burnside’s Versuch über das Licht (Hanser, 2011), and W. G. Sebald’s Across the Land and the Water: Selected Poems 1964-2001 (Hamish Hamilton, 2011). He has edited Michael Hamburger’s essays and poetry in German translation, in the volumes Pro Domo (2007) and Letzte Gedichte (2009), published by Folio Verlag in Vienna, and his German versions of British and Irish plays have been performed at more than a hundred theatres in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. He is a winner of the John Dryden Translation Prize, awarded jointly by the British Centre for Literary Translation and British Comparative Literature Association. He has also won the 2014 Stephen Spender Translation Prize for his rendition of a poem by Hamburg poet, Jan Wagner whose Selected Poems he has translated and which will be published by Arc in 2015.


Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize Shortlist

The shortlist for this year’s Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize has been announced. From a total of 53 entries, reduced to a long-list of 22 titles, this year’s three poet-judges – Imtiaz Dharker, Robert Seatter (Chair) and Anthony Wilson – have this week arrived at a hard-won collective shortlist for the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2014. Their individual shortlists spanned nine books – in other words, plenty of early consensus mixed with some different preferences – but they’re agreed on the following outstanding five as the final contenders:

Bright Travellers by Fiona Benson (Cape Poetry)
Moontide by Niall Campbell (Bloodaxe Books)
My Family and Other Superheroes by Jonathan Edwards (Seren Books)
Division Street by Helen Mort (Chatto & Windus)
Self-Portrait with the Happiness by David Tait (Smith/Doorstop Books)

The winner will be announced at the Festival’s opening main reading – on Friday 7th November at 8.30pm – and he or she will receive the cash prize of £2,500, a week of paid ‘protected’ writing time in 2015 on the East Suffolk coast, plus a fee-paying invitation to read at next year’s Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. More about the Prize, its judges and previous winners here.



Get yourself to #APF26 in November

Can the 26th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and the weekend of 7–9 November really be just weeks away? Well, you can certainly feel it in The Poetry Trust office, where there’s that tangible (aka terrifying) early autumn buzz (aka panic) once the phone calls and emails and enquiries start coming in thick and fast as we organise the safe ‘migration’ of thirty poets from all over the world to the East Suffolk coast. Not to mention the mountain of print-work to compile (hand-outs, signage, event sheets, Festival timetable etc). Oh, and the little matter of the 11th edition of The Poetry Paper… Busy? We’ve been known to get up before we go to bed by the time we hit October!

You’ll have heard about this year’s 60+ interconnecting events (22 free) and the three exhibitions. If not, head straight to all the programme details on our website or join the mailing list to be sent a paper copy. Between them, Naomi (Jaffa) and Dean (Parkin) have experienced over forty Aldeburgh Poetry Festivals and they both agree that there are two essential ingredients for that magic Aldeburgh experience. Firstly it’s the poets – 30 this year, all different ages, backgrounds and cultures: it’s their presence and energetic involvement in so many events and the rare pleasure of being in their company throughout the weekend. And secondly, it’s you – the audience, offering the uniquely attentive Aldeburgh listening that poets are stunned by and never forget.

If you’re a Festival regular, you’ve probably already booked your tickets – but if not, get cracking as they’re selling well. If you’re contemplating a first visit, then it’s time to take the plunge – around 40% of the audience in both 2012 and 2013 were new attenders and once bitten, forever smitten it seems, because everyone always says they’re coming back. Whatever, we promise lots of discoveries and encounters with new poets and new poems to keep us all sustained for the winter.



Patience Agbabi brought Chaucer to Suffolk

While November is all about the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival (as far as we’re concerned!), in October we presented Patience Agbabi at the Halesworth Arts Festival for a dazzling performance of her inspired remix of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Telling Tales, described by Jeanette Winterson as a “pilgrimage of punks, badasses, broken hearts, beat poets, silver-tongued fixers, town criers, beauties, sinners… a poem on wheels” and we’re thrilled to have had a Suffolk date as part of Patience’s extensive national tour. Click here for Patience talking about her lifelong passion for Chaucer and giving her favourite ‘pilgrims’ a 21st century identity. From the Miller’s Tale to the Wife of Bath’s, this boisterous and lyrical collection of tales gives one of Britain’s most significant works of poetry thrilling new life.

Telling Tales national tour is produced by Renaissance One.



Hegley & McMillan at The Poetry Prom

John Hegley and Ian McMillan made sure that everyone had the time of their lives at this year’s Poetry Prom on 28th August. Snape Maltings was full to bursting – not a seat to be had – and our partners at Aldeburgh Music say they’ve never before heard the concert hall “rocking with pure feel-good enjoyment and love of artists of any artform… wonderful (and stupid of it to be a surprise) that it was for poets.” You can see the story of the evening in photographs by clicking here.

Yes, it was undoubtedly more comedy stand-up than straight poetry reading, but if laughter is the best medicine then we reckon everyone went home ‘cured’. John and Ian entered into the spirit of the occasion with gusto and wonderful inventiveness, extending their ‘responsibilities’ to include the building (and demolition) of the stage set.

The delightful proof is now on YouTube (courtesy of Dean Parkin’s idea, iPhone filming, editing and post-production skills). Watch it below...



Announcing The Aldeburgh Eight

We’re delighted to announce the successful applicants for this year’s Aldeburgh Eight – eight poets early in their publishing careers who we’ve carefully selected for an incredible eight day poetry experience this autumn – three days at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, followed by an intensive five day rural retreat at the beautiful Bruisyard Hall.

Joining us in Suffolk this November will be Edward Doegar (32, London), Joanna Guthrie (44, Norwich), Matthew Howard (36, Norwich), Miriam Nash (29, London), Mary Noonan (56, Cork, Ireland), Richard Osmond (27, St Albans), Paul Stephenson (40, Paris) and Rebecca Watts (30, Cambridge).

We received a record-breaking 85 applications (up from 66 last year), most of which met the demanding criteria for consideration, many offering impressive credentials – evidence of the real demand for this kind of targeted, affordable accelerated development. Getting to a long list of 38 was relatively straightforward, but agreeing the final eight from the shortlist of 16 was really hard because we know how life-changing this advanced seminar can be and we’re sad to have had to turn down some really good poets. It took co-tutors Michael Laskey and Peter Sansom, together with The Poetry Trust’s Naomi Jaffa and Dean Parkin, a day of serious debate – the happy result being a group of poets whose existing and potential poems excite us all. Many congratulations to Edward, Joanna, Matthew, Miriam, Mary, Richard, Paul and Rebecca for winning their places amidst such stiff competition. We look forward to meeting them all in November at the Festival.

More about the Aldeburgh Eight programme.


The Naomi Jaffa Appeal

Under Naomi Jaffa's leadership, Aldeburgh Poetry Festival has delivered a remarkable international programme which has brought audiences over 100 poets from some 40 different countries. To continue and honour Naomi’s passionate dedication to presenting world class poets at Aldeburgh, The Poetry Trust is launching The Naomi Jaffa Appeal. With a target of £30,000, “The Appeal will generate a fund that can be used to help cover the costs of bringing international poets to the Festival, and will be a lasting legacy of Naomi’s vision and inexhaustible commitment over the past two decades.” (Peter Lake, Chair)

To help make a difference to the future success of the Festival, please make a donation.




Naomi Jaffa Stepping Down

Naomi Jaffa, Director at The Poetry Trust, will be leaving after the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in 2014. “After 22 years I’ve decided that it’s finally time to move on. It’s been so much more than a job because The Poetry Trust has been my family. I still love being here so it’s not an easy decision to leave. But this does feel like the right time to take the plunge – to explore something different for myself and for someone fresh to dedicate their energy and imagination to the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival.”

Naomi started in 1993 in a part-time capacity as Suffolk’s first Literature Development Worker, to assist Michael Laskey with the ever expanding festival he’d founded in 1989. In 1999, she became director of the then Aldeburgh Poetry Trust, with Michael as Chair. 2003 saw the birth of The Poetry Trust and a move to its first office – here at The Cut in Halesworth. In the last decade, both The Poetry Trust and Aldeburgh Poetry Festival have grown exponentially under her leadership and vision.

Peter Lake, Chairman of The Poetry Trust, says: “Naomi has decided that the time is right to move on and to find new challenges for her inestimable talent and drive. Her timing is faultless: the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival is the poetry festival in the UK and is now established at Snape; the First Collection prize has a committed partner in the Fenton Arts Trust; and the Aldeburgh Eight is a transformative model of talent development that will go from strength to strength. Naomi has been a great champion of contemporary poetry and leaves a clear legacy but, more importantly, she leaves a sound organisation and the right environment for the next Director to succeed. On behalf of the Board, I offer our heartfelt thanks to Naomi for all that she has achieved.”

Dean Parkin, The Poetry Trust’s Artistic Director says: “It’s been an amazing journey for Naomi. When I first worked for the Festival, as her assistant back in the late 90s, the whole operation was run from her desk in her very tiny front porch/office. We actually posted letters to poets back then – email and mobile phones didn’t exist! She’s done an incredible job – giving two decades of her life to the cause – and has brought her style, elegance and passion to poetry.”

The search is now on for a brilliant successor to take the Festival into its third decade and beyond. Full details about the post and application process are available here.


2014 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival Update

The 26th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival is shaping up to be particularly special, not least because it’s Naomi’s last year at the helm. 2014 will see the return of one of her favourite American poets Thomas Lux and we have a very good reason for bringing him back – the privilege of launching his Selected Poems, published by Bloodaxe this autumn.

As anyone present will testify, Lux’s reading back in 2000 was an amazing Aldeburgh experience. Tender, savage, surreal and funny – his arresting poems are among the most memorable in the Festival’s history. ‘Refrigerator, 1957’ was one of the best-loved tracks on our free ‘Greatest Hits’ CD which we released in 2003 (now a collector’s item) and it’s almost impossible to read the opening without hearing Lux’s inimitable delivery:

More like a vault – you pull the handle out
and on the shelves: not a lot,
and what there is (a boiled potato
in a bag, a chicken carcass
under foil) looking dispirited,
drained, mugged. This is not
a place to go in hope or hunger.

To enjoy the whole poem, delivered by the man himself, click here. And there'll be plenty more reasons to be in Aldeburgh this November to follow over the coming months… watch this space!


Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2014

In November 2014, whose name will join the ranks of Dan O’Brien, Olivia McCannon, JO Morgan, Tiffany Atkinson, Nick Laird, Henry Shukman, Esther Morgan, Colette Bryce, Tamar Yoseloff and Robin Robertson (to name but 10 of the 26 former winners of the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize)? We’re now open for entries and so the journey starts here. Full details can be seen here.

Poet and trustee on the Board of The Poetry Trust, Robert Seatter will chair the panel of three judges for his third successive year. You may well have seen Robert expertly steering the Festival’s main discussion, among his many other Aldeburgh responsibilities each November. And you’ll probably know that Seren have published his three fine collections, most recently Writing King Kong (2011).

He’s joined by Imtiaz Dharker who has published four collections in the UK with her fifth – Over the Moon (Bloodaxe) – due this autumn. Born in Pakistan and raised in Glasgow, she now lives between London and Mumbai and works as an international documentary film-maker and visual artist as well as a poet. She read at Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in 2010 and was part of a marvellous Poetry Prom in 2012 (reading alongside Paul Durcan and Marie Howe).

Anthony Wilson makes up the judging trio. Author of four collections including most recently Riddance (Worple 2012), Anthony has edited books on poetry and creativity for primary school teachers and his prose memoir Love for Now (Impress Books), charts his experience of cancer. He read at Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in 2002 and we’re delighted that he’s recently agreed to be this year’s Festival Blogger; his own disarmingly open poetry blog is one of today’s most popular and essential online reads.

The Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize carries both financial benefits and unique development opportunities for the winning poet. In addition to a cash award (£2,000), there’s a fee-paying invitation to read at the following year’s Festival plus a week’s paid protected writing time on the inspirational Suffolk coast. No other prize makes such a tangible investment in new talent. Entries close on Friday 26th July.


2014 Poetry Prom Line-Up Announced

After 11 years of featuring world-class ‘page’ poets at our annual Poetry Prom – the largest annual single reading outside London – we felt it was time for some serious hilarity. Our partners at Aldeburgh Music knew we weren’t joking when we shared the great good news that John Hegley & Ian McMillan had both said an enthusiastic ‘yes’ to our invitation. The 12th Poetry Prom will take place on Thursday 28 August at Snape Maltings Concert Hall and we’re anticipating a full house so put the date in your diary now. Tickets will go on sale in early May and should probably carry a health warning given that individually John and Ian are two of the funniest performers alive and so, together, who knows how much laughter the human ribcage can bear…

John Hegley has captivated and devastated audiences all over the country – in theatres and festivals and in numerous appearances on radio and television. His recent New & Selected Potatoes spans a thirty-year publishing career, drawing together new poems with greatest hits from 12 previous collections. He’s the stand-up man who brings the house down, our unofficial Comic Poet Laureate for whom ‘the aim is poignancy mixed with jiggery-poetry’.
Ian McMillan has been dubbed ‘The John Peel of poetry’ and the ‘Bard of Barnsley’ and his poems are characterised by the quickest quirkiest imagination, astonishing ingenuity and contagious warmth. A dynamic presence on stage (and on Twitter – 15,000 followers and 43,000 tweets @IMcMillan to date), one thing’s certain: he’s never at a loss for words.

Details of how to book will be included in the April edition of STUFF, but keep an eye on Aldeburgh Music’s website for publication of the Snape Proms programme.



Aldeburgh Poetry Commission 2014

After last year’s delightful cross-art collaboration between Ian McMillan and Fran Crowe (Pilotage), we’ve been thinking hard about who and what should be the recipient of the Aldeburgh Poetry Commission 2014. Ideas and suggestions have been plentiful, but nothing felt quite right until we started talking to Tom Chivers of Penned in the Margins… and suddenly we had the gut reaction we’d been seeking. A unanimous Yes! Tom introduced us to the work of poet, playwright and vocal performance artist Hannah Silva and we were knocked out by her exhilarating and singular approach to ‘text’ and knew we wanted her to be part of Aldeburgh 2014.

Penned in the Margins is producing Hannah’s next show – Shlock! – and we’re delighted to have agreed just this week that The Poetry Trust will be the commissioning partner and that Hannah will deliver the first public performance of Shlock! at Aldeburgh Poetry Festival 2014, with a tour proposed in 2015. To whet everyone’s appetite, here’s a summary description from Tom about the new show:

Schlock! is the result of a collision between Fifty Shades of Grey, the radical punk-pirate Kathy Acker and the sounds of Sonic Youth. In the grand tradition of literary terrorism, Hannah Silva layers, loops and subverts in pursuit of a violent sexual feminist satire. There are no safe words.”

It was a surprise bonus to discover that Hannah grew up just down the road from Aldeburgh and is definitely a ‘local girl’ who’s already achieved significant international recognition. And of course if she wins this year’s Ted Hughes Award for her shortlisted latest solo work Total Man, we’ll be extra thrilled. But mainly we’re just very excited to invest in the creative content of her next piece of work. Watch this space for updates as Shlock! develops over the coming months.



Dylan Thomas at The Pumphouse in June

We’ve lined up a timely jewel for our Poetry at the Pumphouse event as part of this year’s Aldeburgh (music) Festival. On Sunday 22nd June at 5pm, Helena Nelson will deliver an audio-illustrated talk on Dylan Thomas who she’s dubbed ‘the ultimate escape artist’. In this centenary year of the birth of the great Welsh poet, Helena promises to celebrate some of his glorious verbal tricks and contrivances, and to consider why biographers have had such difficulty in pinning him down.

Helena Nelson is a scintillating poet in her own right (she won the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize in 2003 and captivated audiences at the Poetry Prom in 2007) and a most acute editor and publisher (she founded the award-winning HappenStance Press in 2005). In 2014, to mark the double centenary of Dylan Thomas and his friend and fellow-poet Ruthven Todd, HappenStance publish prose pamphlets (by Robert Minhinnick and by Ruthven Todd) about the mythic life and death of a man who – although he died at only 39 in less than dignified circumstances – has acquired iconic status.

Tickets cost £7 and advance booking is strongly recommended once they go on sale later this month. They’ll be available from the Aldeburgh Music Box Office at 01728 687110 or book online



Podcasts This Way – Poetry & Beauty and Poem Show 17

Two new podcasts gleaned from the Festival are now ready and waiting to be downloaded from The Poetry Channel.

Poem Show 17 – Alison Brackenbury’s Festival Choice
Alison Brackenbury chooses three outstanding poems by fellow Aldeburgh poets: Olivia McCannon’s tender and powerful ‘Exactly My Own Length’, Conor O’Callaghan’s imaginative and crisp ‘High Road’, and Terrance Hayes’ sensuous and sumptuous ‘The Whale’. Listen now

Discussion – Poetry & Beauty
What does ‘beauty’ actually mean to contemporary poets and is it still relevant to their writing or simply an outdated concept? The subject of last year’s Festival discussion was illuminated and interrogated by Terrance Hayes, Ian McMillan, Katha Pollitt, and Vera Pavlova with her translator Steven Seymour. Chaired by Robert Seatter – and generously supported by online poetry magazine Ink Sweat & Tears – the edited highlights (20 mins) of their unique and stimulating exchange is available here.



The 25th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival In Verse

We’ll close the book on Aldeburgh Poetry Festival 2013 with an unsolicited yet very welcome poem by audience member and poet Jean Riley. She was celebrating her 10th Aldeburgh weekend last November and explains that ‘the words in italics are attributed to poets and were transcribed during their performances. I apologise for errors.’ Many thanks Jean for this resonant ‘review’ of the 25th Festival!

Jean says, I began writing poetry two years ago and was last year selected for the Ty Newydd Poetry Masterclass with Carol Ann Duffy and Gillian Clarke. Following this I travelled from Gloucestershire to the 25th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival to meet two Bedfordshire friends for a celebratory three-day treat on our tenth festival year; ‘In The Margins’ was written for these friends who’d had the brilliant idea to come to Aldeburgh all those years ago and, crucially, ask me to join them! In March I will be reading at The Cheltenham Poetry Festival… she writes of grief, space shuttles and poetry festivals!

In The Margins

In green, O’Callaghan in Aldeburgh,
feels more Irish, here, than ever,

says, the life we meant to love
that we ran screaming from

lived itself without us
and I miss what he said, next, turn

inside to a shuffled flash
that I’m living for myself, turn back.

McMillan, off his northern track,
fails to find the rough,

only smooth, disturbing perfection
of pebble, boat, blue skies, relies

on the rich rust and plastic pickings
from the barrel of his Barnsley, lifts

a ten-pence piece to cover the moon,
takes Walsall for inspiration, once, twice,

and jokes, avant-garde? ’aven’t practised!
Pavlova’s husband translates her, reads,

he called me the most beautiful woman
in the world because he forgot my name,

dreams her dreams, shares invitations
from this rich dessert, pert –

open me up in the middle,
read once more from your favourite part.

Poets and punters at bus stops!

get-you-back-to-me, Wrigley, drops,
not Chicago gum but Idaho cigarettes

for someone to find, return, tell him,
all your books are gone and I want one!

And Nurske, Nurkse? We stumble
on his name like his own hand, fumbles,

hesitates, reaches for the glass,
retreats, leg stretched forwards, back,

and everyone asks, are you all right?
he says, I asked for a translation

and ‘even the grass is singed’, comes back,
‘even the marihuana is melodious!’

And Brackenbury graces the Britten.
Roses, lapwings, starlings glisten and reeds

in their beds on the banks of The Alde,
lean, strain, to listen.

And Raine asserts be unafraid
of the mundane,

describes three kisses, individual, not vague,
an identity parade

of kisses caught in the act!
And poetry’s eye searches the margins,

finds beauty
in the space left by loss,

finds one short-listed for engagement,
love on all platforms, on all floors,

one with diamonds in his skin
who likes the flaws

and one who brings, more than,
Morello cherries conserved in her own jam.

Jean Riley
November 2013

Where words in italics are attributed to poets, they were transcribed during their performances. I apologise for errors.

Thanks to Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and the following poets – Conor O’Callaghan, Ireland / Ian McMillan, Yorkshire, UK / Vera Pavlova, Russia / Robert Wrigley, Idaho, USA / D. Nurkse, New York, USA / Alison Brackenbury, Gloucester, UK / Craig Raine, Oxford, UK / Terrance Hayes (not named) Pittsburgh, USA



The 26th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival

It is now officially programming season and we’re busily putting together the 26th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and have already lined up some brilliant poets from all over the world who will be heading this way in the autumn – so please do put 7-9 November 2014 in your diary now. We’ll be updating you with news about the line-up in our monthly STUFF newsletter (you can sign up for that by clicking here).

The 25th Festival is still very much in our memories though and we’ve got some excellent podcasts from last November’s event that we’ll be sharing with you in the coming weeks. You can also flick through a gallery of pictures chronicling the 2013 Aldeburgh Experience – just click here.

Hope to see you on the Suffolk coast this autumn!

Robert Wrigley at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in 2013


Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2013 – Winner Announced

The winner of the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2013 – one of the most significant and long-established poetry awards in the UK – was announced at the opening of the 25th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival on Friday 8 November. From a shortlist of five titles, the three judges (Peter Blegvad, Maura Dooley and Robert Seatter) unanimously agreed that the prize should go to the American poet and playwright Dan O’Brien for War Reporter which is published in the UK by CB editions.

Dan O’Brien picture

War Reporter is the result of a collaboration between poet Dan O’Brien and war reporter Paul Watson – who won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1993 photograph of a dead American being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu and who has since reported from the Balkans, Rwanda, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. The poems – 120 pages of individual narratives and reflections – bear unsparing witness to the incalculable damage inflicted by contemporary warfare, bypassing the disconnect that is often there when we watch reports filtered for TV viewing.

The three judges commented as follows:

“This big subject makes the reader uncomfortable, cynical, voyeuristic, repulsed but these poems give perspective to such scruples. Dan O’Brien’s voice is a blistering call to attention.” Maura Dooley

War Reporter is a great poetry book of our times: an honest, authentic and personal record of war, written with both admirable clarity and complexity. We applauded its fluid readability, its cumulative shifting perspectives and its integrity of voice.” Robert Seatter (Chair)

“Dan O’Brien’s book made me uncomfortably aware of my own responsibility, not only my ‘guilt’ but my ability to respond, emotionally at least. I felt stripped, less inured. Angrier, more appalled. It was painful, I didn’t like it, but I sensed it was probably crucial. War Reporter feels tragically necessary.” Peter Blegvad

Dan O’ Brien says that War Reporter is:

“An attempt to look as clearly as I can at the horror we exact upon each other, to not turn away from that truth. To be honest about the thrill of war also, that none of us is innocent of fear and its consequent aggression, however sublimated. And lastly, perhaps, to find solace, friendship, even art in the act of witnessing each other’s traumas. The support of The Poetry Trust and the Aldeburgh Prize is a testament to the connecting power of poetry. Maybe nothing’s been solved for good, we’re all fairly cursed and haunted, but the connection of poetry – this might give us some hope, or a sense of meaning, at least. The consolation of elegy, if nothing else.”

Publisher and editor of CB editions, Charles Boyle writes:

“An envelope containing four poems by Dan O’Brien was among the submissions pile I sat down to on my first day as a guest editor of Poetry Review last year, and I knew at once that behind these poems there was a whole book and that, given the chance to publish that book, I would. Like most of the other poetry books published by CB editions, War Reporter is less a ‘collection’ than a project, conceived as a whole. I hope it will be read both by anyone interested in what poetry can do and by people who are not usually interested in poetry at all.”

Now in its second year of funding by The Fenton Arts Trust, the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize is valuable not simply as a cash prize – £2,000 – but especially for its emphasis on developing talent. Uniquely, the winner also receives a week of ‘protected’ writing time on the inspirational Suffolk coast and – most significantly – an invitation to read at the subsequent Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, thereby reaching the UK’s largest and most dedicated contemporary poetry audience. No other poetry prize offers such sustained investment and support.


The War Reporter Paul Watson on the Examination of Women

Clean-shaven men are criminals. Cassettes
get unspooled and strung from checkpoint towers
festively like intestines. All their shoes
are black. Waving hello’s taboo. Women
doctors disappear, the female sick must
of course remain at all times enshrouded
in their burqas. As the doctor reaches
under the hem to feel only the part
of her that hurts. To look into her eyes
or at the surface of her tongue would prove
too difficult through the grille. Naturally
female doctors are called back. Male doctors
guide every examination blindly
from behind a closed door, where many hear
sick women bleeding to death. A poet
-doctor named Abdul Hamed once revealed
to me: The Taliban is a mystery
its Creator is unable to solve.

from War Reporter
Dan O’Brien (CB editions)


The Poetry Paper, Issue Ten

Have you got the latest Poetry Paper yet? Issue 10 is now available and still FREE! Featuring new poems from Richie McCaffery, Robert Wrigley, Olivia McCannon, Nikola Madzirov, Vera Pavlova and Kim Moore; exclusive contributions from Alison Brackenbury, Shazea Quraishi, Katha Pollitt and many more; David Constantine tells us how his poems are often stronger than he is; Vera Pavlova reveals a special ability for finding lost things. And the rest of this year’s contents? Find out for yourself!

Order your free copy here
or view a flipbook version here



Performing Logue

To mark the silver anniversary of this year’s 25th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, The Poetry Trust announced that three of the UK’s most outstanding young actors – Paul Ready, Jack Laskey and Ben Whishaw – would appear in Performing Christopher Logue on Sunday 10 November at 2pm in the Britten Studio at Snape Maltings.

This specially-devised event celebrated Christopher Logue (1926-2011) who delivered his masterpiece New Numbers in one of the all-time memorable readings at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in 1998.

All its ferocious wit, pain and relevance was given fresh life in a three-voice rehearsed reading by Laskey, Ready and Whishaw. And they also recreated Logue’s iconic Red Bird jazz suite – based on Pablo Neruda poems and not performed since the 1960s – with the help of a specially-convened quintet comprising some of the best musicians in the business (Maurice Horhut/piano, Pete Beachill/trombone, Joe Sharp/trumpet, Julian Bery/double bass and Andy Trim/drums).

Performing Christopher Logue was a co-production between The Poetry Trust and theatre company Spielhouse. It was one of the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival experiences of this – or indeed any – year.



Festival Programme Changes

When we programmed an Alternative Voices reading, our intention was to showcase three poets whose poems we believe deserved a wider audience, three of those too-often unheard voices that you’ll only find at Aldeburgh. We did not bargain on having to find alternatives to two of our three ‘original’ alternative poets – but several weeks ago, C.J. Allen withdrew from the Festival and much more recently, Julian Stannard informed us, with the greatest regret, that he would be unable to make it due to ill health.

After lots more reading and discussion about who would best fit our criteria, we’re fortunate and glad to announce that John Whitworth and Hubert Moore will instead join Seni Seneviratne to comprise the trio for Sunday’s Alternative Voices reading at 12noon. John Whitworth will now deliver the Saturday morning Close Reading at 10.45am (in place of C.J. Allen) and Julian Stannard’s scheduled talk on Michael Hofmann (Saturday at 10am) has been cancelled and all ticket purchasers will be refunded.

Hubert Moore was born in Oxford in 1934. After a career in teaching, he spent ten years as a writing mentor and presenter of workshops at the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture. He has published seven collections, most recently Whistling Back (Shoestring 2012) and a new book follows in 2014. David Constantine has called his poems ‘beautifully exact, full of cherishing and light’ – we welcome the opportunity to hear his deft and moving work at the Festival next month.

John Whitworth was born in 1945 and his tenth collection Girlie Gangs (Enitharmon) arrived last year. His anthology of love poetry Making Love to Marilyn Monroe was published by Faber in 2006 and he’s author of the popular Writing Poetry in the Writing Handbooks series (2001). He’s a versatile, erudite and funny poet, described by Les Murray as ‘a wise and rueful virtuoso’.



Catch up with our Festival Blogger

You may have already heard that this year’s Aldeburgh Poetry Festival blogger-in-residence is John Field. He’s well known for his Poor Rude Lines blog and has been providing monthly ‘dispatches’ for recent editions of our STUFF e-newsletter. On his blog you can already read the lowdown on Festival poets such as Nikola Madzirov, Richie McCaffery, Kim Moore, D. Nurkse, Shazea Quraishi, Robert Wrigley and Luke Samuel Yates. And posts will also now start to appear on the Festival blog on this website – you can read his latest despatch on Terrance Hayes’ exuberant ‘Friday: Poem’.

We also suggest you make time to attend John’s Poets Preview event at the Festival, early on the evening of Friday 8 November. It will provide you with an invaluable introduction to the work of four of the less familiar Festival poets. A perfect way to start the ultimate poetry weekend!

You can book tickets for Poets Preview online – just click here.



Alice Oswald at the Halesworth Arts Festival

Some of you will remember Alice Oswald’s last visit to Suffolk, when she launched Memorial – her radical new version of The Iliad – with a mesmerising extract at the Poetry Prom in August 2011. It made everyone hungry to hear the whole thing – and now we’re going to! On Monday 21st October at 7.30pm at The Cut in Halesworth – presented by The Poetry Trust as part of the Halesworth Arts Festival – Alice will deliver one of her guaranteed tour-de-force performances of Memorial in its entirety, off by heart. A rare opportunity to experience her inimitable live rendition of the text – absolutely as it should be heard.

As Alice explained in her 2010 interview with Naomi Jaffa: “I’ve done something a little bit bold, which is to get rid of the main narrative about Achilles… I’ve always been moved by the little biographies of the soldiers that crop up throughout The Iliad – the ordinary people who trip over, or die crying for their mother, or whatever it might be… I see it in two parts: there are the lives of the soldiers and there are the similes.”

Listen to this Alice Oswald interview on the The Poetry Channel.

Memorial has been something of a publishing phenomenon and is still making news two years after its Faber publication: the book has just won the £25,000 Warwick Prize for writing. Awarded every two years and open to works of fiction, science, history and poetry, Alice was the only poet to make this year’s shortlist of six books.

“I hope it has modern relevance” says Alice, “for me it’s incredibly important that each individual death is counted rather than someone’s death being more important than someone else’s… I’d be disappointed if it was only going to be heard by classicists!”

Tickets for Memorial at the Halesworth Arts Festival are £10.50. Book online now to ensure a seat.

P.S. If you’re Suffolk-based or fancy an October visit to this lovely part of the world, there are many Halesworth Arts Festival delights and there’s a 15% discount if you book for three or more events…


Olivia McCannon In Conversation

Following her reading as part of Poetry on the Fourth Floor on Wednesday 10 July with Julia Copus and Jo Shapcott, you can now hear an in-depth conversation with Olivia McCannon about her book Exactly My Own Length which won the 2012 Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize.

The interview was recorded during her protected writing time week (part of the Prize) which took place in Thorpeness on the Suffolk coast in May 2013. We sent The Poetry Trust’s Dean Parkin along to ask how she put the book together and what winning the prize meant to her. She also discusses and reads four poems from the collection too.

You can download or hear the 16 minute podcast by going to The Poetry Channel (click here).



Announcing The Aldeburgh Eight

We’re delighted to announce the successful applicants for the very first Aldeburgh Eight – eight poets early in their publishing careers who we’ve carefully selected for an incredible eight day poetry experience this autumn – three days at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, followed by an intensive five day rural retreat at the beautiful Bruisyard Hall

Joining us in Suffolk this November will be Sophie Clarke (23, Lincolnshire), Ryan Devin (35, Liverpool), Christy Ducker (41, Northumberland), Isabel Galleymore (25, Exeter), Cheryl Moskowitz (54, London), Richard Scott (32, London), Chrissy Williams (35, London), James Womack (34, Madrid).

We received a grand total of 66 applications and almost all met the demanding criteria for consideration, many offering impressive credentials – evidence of the real demand for this kind of targeted, affordable accelerated development. Getting to a long list of 24 was relatively straightforward, but agreeing the final eight was really hard because we know how life-changing this advanced seminar can be and we’re sad to have had to turn down some really good poets. It took co-tutors Michael Laskey and Peter Sansom, together with The Poetry Trust’s Naomi Jaffa and Dean Parkin, a day of serious debate – the happy result being a group of poets whose existing and potential poems excite us all. Many congratulations to Sophie, Ryan, Christy, Isabel, Cheryl, Richard, Chrissy and James for winning their places amidst such stiff competition. We look forward to meeting them all in November at the Festival.

More about the Aldeburgh Eight programme.



The Poetry Prom Gallery

Welcome to some pictorial highlights of this year's Poetry Prom.  David Constantine, Wendy Cope and Kay Ryan took to the stage at Snape Maltings Concert Hall on Wednesday 21 August for what was yet another fantastic Poetry Prom. Enjoy it in retrospect via our photo gallery.

Our trio of world class performers wowed the audience with their intelligence, humour and heart and held the near capacity audience spellbound between waves of laughter, reflection and applause.

“The 11th Poetry Prom delivered uplifting proof of the variety, power and sheer pleasure to be had from live poetry at its best. Funny, moving and thought-provoking. We couldn’t have asked for more.” (Naomi Jaffa, Director, The Poetry Trust)

Thank you to everyone involved for making this year’s Poetry Prom the best we could have wished for.


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View the Photo Gallery



Aldeburgh Poetry Festival 2013 Upate

Aldeburgh Poetry Festival Update

For the weekend of 8-10 November 2013 we hope you’ll be in Suffolk, joining us for the 25th International Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. This will be our silver anniversary – a quarter of century since the very first Festival which opened with James Fenton reading in the Baptist Chapel and was brought to a close by what’s become Aldeburgh’s ‘signature’ three-hander – featuring Gillian Clarke, Michael Hofmann and Edwin Morgan. The standard was set, you could say.

After last year’s exciting expansion, the Festival returns to the Snape Maltings campus and we’ve got some special events up our sleeve to mark the 25th anniversary. We’ll be unveiling the first Aldeburgh Poetry Commission: an intriguing collaboration between effervescent poet and broadcaster Ian McMillan and Suffolk-based eco-artist Fran Crowe, the results of which will be shared between Snape and Aldeburgh. We’ll also be returning to our atmospheric earliest home in Aldeburgh – the Baptist Chapel – for a series of ‘Chapel Lectures’. More to follow on that soon…

And of course there’ll be an abundance of readings, discussions, craft talks, lectures, performances and workshops – and always lots of opportunities to discover international and UK poets new to you. Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks.


Young Poets Poem Show

Young Poets Poem Show

A brand new Poem Show is now available on The Poetry Channel. Hot on the heels of our recent Young Poets Discussion podcast – which is on its way to becoming our most popular podcast ever clocking up 800 downloads a month – we wanted to continue to shine a light on young poetic talent.

That’s why we asked Leti Mortimer, poetry editor for online magazine Inky Needles and a member of at last year’s event team, to curate a Poem Show featuring three young poets from last year’s Festival – Caleb Klaces, Rebecca Perry and Andrew McMillan.
Download Poem Show 16

Our Facebook and Twitter followers (now topping 7,300!) will have already come across Leti – she’s been responsible for many of our recent status updates and Tweets which have resulted in us shifting a load of Poetry Papers in recent weeks. We’re looking forward to working with her more throughout the year…

In the meantime, check out Inky Needles. It’s an online magazine devoted to Poetry, Politics and Philosophy. Leti is focused on contemporary poetry and on providing a platform for likeminded people to share their work – submissions most welcome!
Here’s more information


An Awesome Foursome - London Reading in May

We’re delighted to have been asked by the Bush Theatre in London to curate an event in May as part of their series of evenings celebrating the written and spoken word. Taking place in the Theatre Library, each night is hosted by a different poetry organisation and to kick things off, on Wednesday 8th May at 7.30pm, we’ll be presenting An Awesome Foursome – a quartet of some of today’s most engaging and vital poets, all ‘graduates’ from our Advanced Seminar.

Tickets cost £12 and with just 48 seats available, advance booking will be essential. Call the box office on 020 8743 5050 or book online

Holly Hopkins lives and works in London. She received the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award twice and an Eric Gregory Award in 2011. Formerly she worked at The Poetry Society running the Young Poets Network and was festival blogger for Poetry International at the Southbank Centre. She is currently Assistant Editor at Eyewear Publishing and reading an MA in poetry at Royal Holloway. Her poems have been published in Poetry Review, The Rialto, Magma and The North and widely anthologised – most recently in Dear World & Everyone In It: New Poetry In the UK (Bloodaxe, 2013).

Hannah Lowe was born in Ilford, Essex and has lived in London, Brighton and Santa Cruz, California. She studied American Literature at the University of Sussex and has an MA in Refugee Studies. She has worked as a teacher of literature and creative writing, and is now studying for a PhD. Her pamphlet The Hitcher (The Rialto, 2011) was widely praised and her first book-length collection Chick was published by Bloodaxe earlier this year. A short chapbook Rx is forthcoming with sinewavepeak later in 2013. John Glenday says, ‘Hannah Lowe is a wonderfully evocative and lyrical writer. She handles form with an easy confidence but she is also a refreshingly able storyteller… one of the most exciting new voices in British poetry.’

Helen Mort was born in Sheffield and lives in Derbyshire. Five times a winner of Foyle Young Poets of the Year awards, in 2007 she received an Eric Gregory Award from The Society of Authors, and from 2010-11 she was Poet in Residence at The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere. She has published two pamphlets with tall-lighthouse – the shape of every box and a pint for the ghost – and her first full-length collection Division Street is forthcoming from Chatto and Windus.

Katrina Naomi is originally from Margate and lives in south London. Her pamphlet Lunch at the Elephant & Castle won the 2008 Templar Poetry Competition and her first full collection The Girl with the Cactus Handshake was shortlisted for the London New Poetry Award. She was the first writer-in-residence at the Bronte Parsonage Museum and has just been awarded a Gladstone’s Library Residency. She is completing a PhD in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths. Michael Laskey says, "Katrina Naomi is not afraid to take risks and knows how to 'tell it slant'. Her wide-ranging poems – whether touching, shocking, entertaining, compassionate or sinister – have a vital freshness."

Book online via The Bush Theatre box office

This is one of three London events we’ll be presenting this year – more details to follow soon…



Aldeburgh Eight: The Advanced Seminar

Applications are invited for ALDEBURGH EIGHT which will take place in Suffolk from 1pm on Friday 8th until midday on Friday 15th November 2013.

ALDEBURGH EIGHT is the natural progression of The Poetry Trust’s Advanced Seminar which ran successfully each March from 2007 to 2011. The principle aim remains – to devise a unique opportunity, professional and creative, for eight carefully selected poets early in their publishing careers.

What’s new in 2013 is that seminar participants will begin with an immersive three days at the international Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, immediately followed by an intensive five-day rural retreat led by experienced tutors Michael Laskey and Peter Sansom. A once-in-a-lifetime eight days of accelerated poetry development.

Participants will stay together throughout – during the Festival at Elizabeth Court in Aldeburgh (8-10 November) and then 12 miles inland at Bruisyard Hall, near Saxmundham (11-15 November). The Poetry Trust actively seeks eight poets with a strong publishing track record (magazines, anthologies, individual pamphlet and possibly a first collection), real promise and clear evidence of commitment.

Since 2007, 40 poets have ‘graduated’ from the Advanced Poetry Seminar. Most have gone on to secure significant recognition, with publication of a pamphlet or first collection as well as prize nominations and awards.

All applications must be received by Friday 17 May 2013 and successful applicants will be notified by Friday 31 May 2013

For more information please download a PDF file of the ALDEBURGH EIGHT flyer here.

Booking & Cancellation details here.

It was fantastic to spend time with other poets who are at the same stage as me, people who care as much about poetry as I do.
Hannah Lowe, participant 2011

Picture: Seminar poets at Bruisyard Hall in 2011



WANTED: Marketing & Communications Freelancer

We are urgently seeking a dynamic professional with digital flair to take a world-class poetry festival into the next stage of development.

The Poetry Trust has secured three-year Arts Council Lottery funding to expand its flagship annual international Aldeburgh Poetry Festival into Aldeburgh Music’s Snape Maltings campus. This transformational development creates more space for more people across a wider range of venues.

Your key task will be to generate new audiences for the Festival, and also to promote the range of associated activities: The Poetry Paper, The Poetry Channel, the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and The Poetry Prom.

You’ll be a creative thinker with strong strategic planning and effective management and delivery experience, someone capable of inspiring others locally, nationally and globally to get passionate about poetry.

Based in Halesworth, Suffolk this is a freelance contract for circa 45 days in 2013/14 for a fee of £5k plus expenses, annually renewable for two years.

Download the information pack & person specification here.

Application by email or letter, plus CV to:
The Poetry Trust, The Cut, 9 New Cut, Halesworth IP19 8BY

Closing date: Friday 10 May 2013
Interviews: Thursday 16 May 2013




Announcing Poem Show 16 - Klaces, McMillan & Perry


A brand new Poem Show is now available on The Poetry Channel featuring Caleb Klaces, Andrew McMillan and Rebecca Perry. Hot on the heels of our recent Young Poets Discussion podcast – which is on its way to becoming our most popular podcast ever clocking up 800 downloads a month – we wanted to continue to shine a light on young poetic talent.

That’s why we asked Leti Mortimer, poetry editor for online magazine Inky Needles and a member of at last year’s event team, to curate a Poem Show featuring three young poets from last year’s Festival – Caleb Klaces, Rebecca Perry and Andrew McMillan.

Our Facebook and Twitter followers (now topping 7,300!) will have already come across Leti – she’s been responsible for many of our recent status updates and Tweets which have resulted in us shifting a load of Poetry Papers in recent weeks. We’re looking forward to working with her more throughout the year…

In the meantime, check out Inky Needles. It’s an online magazine devoted to Poetry, Politics and Philosophy. Leti is focused on contemporary poetry and on providing a platform for likeminded people to share their work – submissions most welcome!

You can play Poem Show 16 in our podcast player below or download it from The Poetry Channel.


Sharon Olds wins Pulitzer

16 APRIL 2013 – Congratulations to Sharon Olds who has won the Pulitzer Prize.

This seems like a good moment to listen again to her wonderful conversation with Michael Laskey, which took place in August 2009, shortly before her appearance at The Poetry Prom in Suffolk.

We’ve loaded up the interview into our podcast player below… just press the play button (the arrow in the circle) on the bottom left of the player in the grey border.


Young Poets Poem Show Now Available

A brand new Poem Show is now available on The Poetry Channel. Hot on the heels of our recent Young Poets Discussion podcast – which is on its way to becoming our most popular podcast ever clocking up 800 downloads a month – we wanted to continue to shine a light on young poetic talent.

That’s why we asked Leti Mortimer, poetry editor for online magazine Inky Needles and a member of at last year’s event team, to curate a Poem Show featuring three young poets from last year’s Festival – Caleb Klaces, Rebecca Perry and Andrew McMillan.

Our Facebook and Twitter followers (now topping 7,300!) will have already come across Leti – she’s been responsible for many of our recent status updates and Tweets which have resulted in us shifting a load of Poetry Papers in recent weeks. We’re looking forward to working with her more throughout the year…

In the meantime, check out Inky Needles. It’s an online magazine devoted to Poetry, Politics and Philosophy. Leti is focused on contemporary poetry and on providing a platform for likeminded people to share their work – submissions most welcome!

You can play Poem Show 16 in our podcast player below or download it from The Poetry Channel.


Available Now! Klaces, McMillan & Perry on Poem Show 16


A brand new Poem Show is now available on The Poetry Channel featuring Caleb Klaces, Andrew McMillan and Rebecca Perry. Hot on the heels of our recent Young Poets Discussion podcast – which is on its way to becoming our most popular podcast ever clocking up 800 downloads a month – we wanted to continue to shine a light on young poetic talent.

That’s why we asked Leti Mortimer, poetry editor for online magazine Inky Needles and a member of at last year’s event team, to curate a Poem Show featuring three young poets from last year’s Festival – Caleb Klaces, Rebecca Perry and Andrew McMillan.

Our Facebook and Twitter followers (now topping 7,300!) will have already come across Leti – she’s been responsible for many of our recent status updates and Tweets which have resulted in us shifting a load of Poetry Papers in recent weeks. We’re looking forward to working with her more throughout the year…

In the meantime, check out Inky Needles. It’s an online magazine devoted to Poetry, Politics and Philosophy. Leti is focused on contemporary poetry and on providing a platform for likeminded people to share their work – submissions most welcome!

You can play Poem Show 16 in our podcast player below or download it from The Poetry Channel.


Young Poets Talk Poetry

Now available on The Poetry Channel – one of our intriguing, independent, behind-the-scenes at the Festival podcasts.


The inimitable Andrew McMillan conducts a fluent and searching conversation with Rebecca Perry, Caleb Klaces, Warsan Shire about what it means to be a ‘young poet’. They discuss attitudes to language, attention spans, writing on paper or laptops, books versus Kindles, and how growing up with the internet has affected their poems. Download, listen and enjoy!


Also recently uploaded was one of our brilliant Aldeburgh Conversations – Julia Copus talks to Robert Seatter about her latest collection, the revelation of Sylvia Plath, and how radio plays and poems can both work as ‘theatre of the mind’

So, do click along to The Poetry Channel, poetic fuel for the mind this winter!

Young poets picture


UEA Spring Literary Festival

This year’s UEA Spring Literary Festival features three poets renowned for their engagement with the natural world.

Michael Symmons Roberts is co-editor with Paul Farley of the prizewinning Edgelands, a radical examination of urban wasteland. His new collection, Drysalter, takes its name from the ancient trade in powdered chemicals and cures and is written as 150 poems of 15 lines.
Tuesday 5 March at 7pm

Ruth Padel’s The Mara Crossing addresses migration, a fundamental aspect of life which compels everything from the humpbacked whale to the human cell. Here she challenges our assumptions about what belonging and connecting might mean.
Tuesday 12 March at 7pm

Kathleen Jamie’s The Overhaul, has just won the Costa Poetry Award and has been shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize [tba Jan 14th]. In this new work, and her celebrated recent book of essays, Sightlines, she extends her investigation of how we take shape within the world as well as within ourselves.
Monday 18 March at 7pm (Note this date has changed from the previously advertised date of February 12th)


Picture of the three poets

Poetry Passports are great value at £14 and offer entry to all three events, while individual tickets are £7. Outside of Aldeburgh, it’s a rarity to get the chance to hear poets this calibre in the East of England – and these are three of the most fearlessly investigative, engaging and clear-sighted poets of our time. So make your way to UEA if you possibly can.


Auction raises £2,800

Bidding closed at midnight last night for Maggi Hambling’s original oil painting – the winning bid was £2,800. We are very thankful to Maggi, a keen supporter of The Poetry Trust, for generously donating this powerful small oil painting – part of her arresting Waves series – to help us raise funds.


Maggi Hambling picture

Maggi Hambling
Wave Curling (2010)
Oil on board 2010, 15 x 20cm


Aldeburgh Poetry Festival 2012 Gallery

The story of the 2012 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in photographs – a pictorial tour through the weekend, all the way from the opening reception in the Peter Pears Gallery in Aldeburgh to the final Britten Studio reading at Snape Maltings on Sunday afternoon.

Snape hallBritten Studio, Snape Maltings

54 events (14 free), twenty-five poets and the biggest and most attentive poetry audiences ever.  Re-live November and look forward to next year’s programme… (8-10 November 2013)

The 2012 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival Photo Gallery


Aldeburgh Poetry Festival is a record breaker

After years of bursting at the seams in Aldeburgh venues, The Poetry Trust upped its game this year when it expanded the Festival to Aldeburgh Music’s prestigious Snape Maltings campus – and it paid off. 4,054 tickets were sold (up 13% on last year) to 54 events hosting 25 poets across nine venues in Aldeburgh and Snape.

The Aldeburgh Poetry Festival has established a reputation as the UK’s pre-eminent annual celebration of national and international contemporary poetry attracting audiences to Suffolk from all over the UK and overseas. Renowned for the depth and creativity of its programme, this year’s Festival was no exception featuring a mix of the familiar and the new. Several events sold out ranging from discussions in small intimate spaces to packed houses in the Britten Studio at Snape seating over 320. Main readings featuring the likes of the popular Jackie Kay, Palestinian Ghassan Zaqtan, Anthony Thwaite (who stood in at 36 hours notice to replace D. Nurkse who was stranded in New York by Hurricane Sandy), South Africa’s leading poet Ingrid de Kok and the phenomenal South Korean writer and poet Ko Un attracted waves of ovation in true festival style.

Four up-and-coming poets all aged under 30 had their chance in the main-stage spotlight, and even younger participants from Suffolk aged 9 to 15 were able to show off their poetic talent. The prizewinners of the Suffolk Young Poets Competition read to an enthusiastic and supportive full house – and were then joined by Jamaican-born Valerie Bloom, well-known all over the world for her mix of English and patois poems.

Naomi Jaffa, Director of The Poetry Trust said: “It’s just beginning to sink in – that after a year of dreaming and planning and a lot of unknowns, the big expansion to Snape has really really worked. I’ve been wonderfully besieged all weekend by people rushing up to say what a fantastic time they’re having. And these are people who’ve been coming to the Festival for years and people who’d come for the first time. Audiences and poets have loved the superb venues and the events being conveniently close and we’re just thrilled to present our world-class programme in such a world-class setting. There’s no doubt that the Festival has just risen to a whole new level. At the same time, I think we’ve managed to preserve the crucial ‘Aldeburgh’ experience – with events starting and finishing each day in town, and a free shuttle bus so that all our poets and the many weekenders staying in Aldeburgh could easily enjoy the best of both worlds. The real magic, though, was the intent listening of such huge audiences to so many incredible poets.”

Suffolk Festival-goer Jeremy Solnick reckons it was “A terrific festival. The best I have been to. I was challenged and enthralled. I laughed, cried and was transported. Brilliant!”

Next year’s Aldeburgh Poetry Festival takes place 8 – 10 November 2013. And if you couldn’t make this year’s in person, you can still tune in to reports and pictures from poets and audiences, on the Festival blog.


Festival audience


Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2012 – Winner announced

The winner of the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2012 – one of the most important and long-established poetry awards in the UK – was announced at the 24th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival on Friday 2 November at 8pm. The recipient of this best first collection prize is Olivia McCannon for Exactly My Own Length published by Carcanet as part of their TheOxfordPoets imprint.

Olivia McCannon responded to news of her win with:

“I am grateful to the judges for their close reading and comments – a reward in itself. It will be a great privilege and pleasure to read to such a poetry-loving audience next year and to be part of the festival and the community it creates.”

On behalf of his fellow judges Esther Morgan and Alicia Stubbersfield, Chair Robert Seatter writes:

“In a very very close field, what we valued in Olivia McCannon’s book was the judged authenticity of her voice. Her collection has a subtle craftsmanship, and her clean and precise language rewards several re-readings revealing new layers of connection and meaning. Exactly My Own Length is surprising without ever being showy, feelingful without overplaying its sentiment, and universal without being predictable.”

Exactly My Own Length contains work spanning ten years. Roughly half of it was written in Paris, where Olivia lived full-time for eight years. French was her language of everyday communication, and as English became more foreign, she found that she was able to write with greater displacement. The second half came into existence during the last year of her mother’s life – “poems to hold onto when everything was slipping away” says Olivia.

Eleanor Crawforth, Editor of Carcanet said:

“The prize, and its accompanying support from the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, is a major landmark in the development of a young poet’s career, and Olivia’s win reflects the continuing success of Carcanet’s Oxford Poets imprint.”

David Constantine, former Editor of Oxford Poets adds:

“By choosing this book, the judges affirm a wider faith in the good of poetry that is rigorous, heartfelt, and rooted in common realities.”

In addition to the cash award (£2,000), the Aldeburgh prize carries two incalculable benefits for the winner. Olivia McCannon will receive a paid invitation to read at next year’s 25th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, plus a unique week’s paid protected writing time on the inspirational East Suffolk coast. No other poetry prize makes such an investment in new talent.
For further information, contact Tina Neill, 01986 835950 or email


Poem from Exactly My Own Length

At the Door

At the door of this house
We need a box in which
To post our troubles as we arrive.

Troubles must not enter this house
Only lightness and smooth cheer
Bunches of gerberas and jokes.

If we’re to keep up the walls of this house
Small things must not be made big
Big things must be made small.

The ticking bomb of this house
Is guarded by a sentry who may shout
To cover his deafness.

We who open the door of this house
Must enter stripped of clocks or watches –
Although you know what time it is.

At the door of this house
We need a box in which
To post our troubles as we leave.

Olivia McCannon picture



Due to Hurricane Sandy, and despite his very best endeavours, D. Nurkse has been unable to leave New York to reach the UK in time for the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. Until midnight on 31 October he was still expecting to make his flight, but circumstances beyond the control of any of us have conspired to make his trip impossible. He and we couldn’t be more sorry.

In terms of the Aldeburgh programme, we are extraordinarily lucky that Anthony Thwaite and Jane Duran have agreed to step in at such short notice to take on D. Nurkse’s four scheduled events at the Festival. We couldn’t be more grateful.

Anthony Thwaite will read on Saturday evening at 7.15pm (joining Jackie Kay and Ghassan Zaqtan with his translator Fady Joudah) and will be ‘in conversation’ with Christopher Reid on Sunday afternoon at 2pm.

Jane Duran will deliver the Talk on Lorca on Friday at 6pm and the Short Take on Saturday morning at 10am.

Full programme and how to book here

Read more about Anthony Thwaite and Jane Duran


Festival Blog Goes Live!

This year, for the first time ever, the Festival has a blogger in residence who will be running our first-ever Festival Blog. We hope festival-goers, poets, and friends who aren’t with us will follow the blog, comment on the posts, and generally enjoy it both during the festival and in months to come.

Katy Evans Bush picture
Katy Evans-Bush, who is both a poet and a blogger herself, will be covering events and the general festival vibe, as well as featuring photographs from festival-goers, and posts by poets and others. We’d love the blog to form a real record of the weekend, in all its ‘drunken variousness’ – so please send your photographs, captions, observations, to Katy.


Maggi Hambling Auction

Your opportunity to support the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and get a stunning and valuable painting in the bargain!

Bids are invited for Wave curling – Oil on board (2010), 15 x 20cm. This framed original work has been generously donated by Maggi Hambling to raise funds for The Poetry Trust. All proceeds will support our work and the development of the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival.

For further information and to submit a bid, click here.



New Talent at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival

New Talent at Aldeburgh

The Festival has a strong commitment to showcasing diverse and interesting emerging poets. This year’s Young Poets Reading (Saturday 3 November, 5.00-6.00pm, Britten Studio) features a quartet all in their twenties, all brimming with passion, technique and an authentic sense of voice. As soon as we read their poems, we wanted to hear them out loud. (Last year’s equivalent slot attracted an audience of almost 200, and this year we’re expecting a similar number at least…)

Caleb Klaces was born in 1983 and won a Gregory Award in 2012. His first pamphlet All Safe All Well (2011) showed an attractive and idiosyncratic intelligence at work. He also edits the collaborative and innovative website Caleb will also be delivering one of the Festival’s signature Close Readings – 15-minute free events where a poet looks in detail at a favourite poem – on Saturday 3 November (10.00-10.15am) in The Long Room.

Andrew McMillan was born in 1988 and is already a real poetry activist. His poems are seriously playful and inventive and his pamphlets include Every Salt Advance (2009) and The Moon is a Supporting Player (2011). He’s also an editor of Cake magazine, and will be putting his editorial skills to the test at the Blind Criticism event on Sunday 4 November (1.15-1.45pm) in the Pond Gallery – discussing two anonymous poems with David Wheatley.

Rebecca Perry was born in 1986 and is a graduate from the Aldeburgh Advanced Seminar in 2009, appearing at the Festival’s Masterclass in 2010. Her poems are appealingly intimate and assured and we’re delighted that her first pamphlet Little Armoured won the Poetry Wales Purple Moose Prize and was a PBS pamphlet choice. Rebecca will also be giving a Close Reading on Saturday 3 November (12.30-12.45pm) in The Long Room.

Warsan Shire is a Kenyan-born Somali poet and writer who is based in London. Born in 1988, she uses her work to document narratives of journey and trauma. Her poems are eloquent and both shocking and unflinchingly affirmative. Warsan will also be giving her own 15-minute Short Take on ‘Poetry as a Lifeline’ on Sunday 4 November (3.00-3.15pm) in the Jerwood Kiln Studio.



the day blows out the last
of summer’s unimportant failures
a bird drops from the sky
looking like a shadow of a tiny parachutist

a man jumps on the bus and asks
if anyone can split a twenty
we’re all skint
a girl shouts into the silence
the laughter rippling down the bus
sounds like paper being squashed
into a wastebin

Andrew McMillan
The Moon is a Supporting Player
(Red Squirrel Press 2011)

Andrew McMillan picture


Winners of the Suffolk Young Poets Competition 2012 announced

595 entries were received for the 2012 Suffolk Young Poets Competition from 28 schools and the judges chose 11 winning poems and 23 highly commended poems. The 11 successful young poets will receive their £20 book token prizes and read their winning poems alongside one of the UK’s favourite poet-performers for children – the irresistible Valerie Bloom – at the 24th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival on Saturday 3 November 2012. Click here to read more about the competition and the winning poems.


The Journey Of The Aldeburgh Poetry Festival: The Movie

As you’ll have heard, this is a momentous year for the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival as we prepare to expand to six new venues at the wonderful Snape Maltings campus in just six weeks time. More room to welcome more people at last! To celebrate these exciting plans and to attract new audiences, we’ve been busy making a short film – The Journey of the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival – which is now available to view on youtube.

The film introduces the new location and why the Festival just has to expand. It also ‘stars’ our two delivery men (as featured in this year’s programme booklet) plus contributions from poets and audiences.

A big thank you to all those who shared their eloquence on camera about what makes Aldeburgh Poetry Festival so special (and apologies if you didn’t make the final cut).
Editing 50 hours of footage down to under five minutes has been a demanding process but we think it tells the story we want to tell.

Why spend money making a film? Because we thought it’d be the very best way to explain what’s happening with the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival over the next three years.

Please do watch it and then promote/share/tweet the film - - to help us spread the word!


New three year funding for Aldeburgh First Collection Prize

One of the most influential and established prizes in the UK for a first book of poems – the award will double this year to £2,000 and be re-titled The Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize from 2012 to 2015. Fenton Arts Trust Chair, Stephen Morris, said:

“It‘s a special pleasure to support this prize because Shu-Yao Fenton founded The Fenton Arts Trust in memory of her husband Colin, throughout his life a lover of English literature and of poetry in particular.”

Fenton Arts logo


The 2012 Poetry Paper Coming Soon

With the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival now just two months away, we’re busy putting together this year’s edition of The Poetry Paper, our Festival ‘newspaper'’ which celebrates our Festival poets (and recent Poetry Prom trio too!). If you’d like to advertise in this year’s issue you’ll need to get in touch now with Tina Neill (our new Marketing & Comms Manager) who will be happy to sort

In case you need reminding of the rare delights of The Poetry Paper, take a look at the online version of last year’s issue. We’re sure you'll have seen them around – we distribute 5,000 copies of each issue between November and March at festivals, other readings series and lots of cultural venues across the UK. And never forget the extraordinary fact that The Poetry Paper remains completely FREE to readers. This is only possible thanks to the income from advertisers and the generosity of poets who donate their words. It’s been said that The Poetry Paper is ‘simply a throughly good read’. We ask simply what other UK publication offers specially-commissioned interviews, articles, new poems and other poetical diversions, all beautifully presented and free to the widest possible poetry audience?!




2012 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival Programme

We’re delighted to announce that this year’s Aldeburgh Poetry Festival programme is now available: 25 poets from all over the UK and beyond – America, Ireland, South Korea, Palestine, Somalia and South Africa – will travel to Suffolk this autumn (2-4 November) to take part in 55 interconnecting events (13 free).

Particular highlights must include:

• Jackie Kay and Maggi Hambling discuss the female artist
• South Korea’s foremost living writer Ko Un reads at his first UK festival
• actor and producer Greg Wise and Christopher Reid re-live the page-to-screen journey of The Song of Lunch
• John Agard brings his own spin to the language of cricket and poetry in a new ‘mock lecture’, Sun Stops Play
• Michael Rosen and Valerie Bloom investigate Why Children Need Poetry

Other Festival unmissables:

• South Africa’s Ingrid De Kok reading in the UK for the first time
• The Palestinian experience from Ghassan Zaqtan
• One of Ireland’s best-kept literary secrets – ninety year old Leland Bardwell
• Two outstanding East Coast American poets – D. Nurkse and Philip Schultz
• New talent showcase readings for a dazzling range of poets at pamphlet and first collection stage
• Katy Evans-Bush – renowned for her literary blog Baroque in Hackney – as Festival blogger-in-residence

This is a momentous year for the Festival as it expands into superb performance spaces on the Snape Maltings campus (just six miles up the road from Aldeburgh). At last, more room to welcome more people. A detailed site map and an introduction to the six new venues are in this year’s booklet. Read it online here

We really hope to see you in Suffolk this autumn for what’s going to be a very special 24th International Aldeburgh Poetry Festival!

Below: Here’s one of our ‘Word Box’ delivery men – this year’s programme booklet ‘cover star’. You’ll be seeing more of him in our forthcoming short film about the ‘journey’ of the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival (details of that to follow).

APF delivery man picture


2012 First Collection Prize

The deadline for this year’s Aldeburgh First Collection PrizeFriday 27th July – has passed and the usual stack of last minute jiffy bags arrived in The Poetry Office at the end of last week.

We received 79 entries this year - one of which will receive the £1,000 prize plus a week’s paid ‘protected’ writing time and a reading at the following year's Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. Last year’s winner Nancy Gaffield (Tokaido Road from CB Editions) will be heading to Suffolk in November. ‘I never imagined that my book would achieve such recognition’ said Nancy hearing news of her win: ‘Aldeburgh commands so much respect that I could not have wished for a better reception for my work.’

The 2012 judges – Esther Morgan, Robert Seatter (Chair) and Alicia Stubbersfield – will soon receive this year’s entries and must agree their shortlist (of up to five titles) by Friday 14 September. The winner will be announced at the opening main reading of this year’s Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, on Friday 2 November. For more details about the prize and a list of previous winners please click here.


2012 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival Programme

After a hectic few weeks, the Festival programme is about to go to press and should be landing on your doormats in late July (assuming you’re on our mailing list – if you aren’t, join here)

As you’ll have heard, this is a momentous year for the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival as we’ll be expanding to Aldeburgh Music’s superb performance spaces at Snape this November. More room to welcome more people – at last! And we can’t wait to share this year’s exceptional line-up of 25 poets – from America, Ireland, Palestine, Somalia, South Africa, South Korea and all over the UK – featuring in over 50 events. We’ll be detailing lots more about the poets and their Festival events over the coming months – on this website, on our Facebook page, via Twitter and in our STUFF newsletter. And in August look out for the short film we’ve been making – about the journey of the Festival and including a whistlestop tour of the Snape Maltings site.

So do keep clicking back to us – we’ve got lots of pre-Festival tasters lined up! We hope you’ve already got the weekend of 2-4 November marked in your diary and that you’re looking forward as much as we are to a fabulous 24th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. All will be revealed shortly!

boxes picture


May Day Celebration for Aldeburgh Poetry Festival

Van with boxes picture

After a year of great uncertainty, we’re very glad (and relieved) to let you know that we have been awarded significant Grants for the Arts Lottery funding to back the transformational development of the Festival over the next three years. The 24th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival will definitely go ahead, so you can ink the weekend of 2–4 November 2012 in your diary today.

Now that the Arts Council has endorsed our exciting plans for the Festival’s future, we can share them with you. After a decade of being more or less at capacity, we’ve been given the green light to expand into glorious new venues – Aldeburgh Music’s superb facilities at Snape Maltings.

This year the main readings will take place in the beautiful Britten Studio which seats 340. And the craft talks, close readings, discussions and other events will be spread across several similarly high quality spaces – holding 60 to 125 – on the Snape campus. More room to welcome more people to the Festival. There’ll be a big foyer area just for the bookstall and, at last, a dedicated place for food, drink and conversation: a real Poetry Festival café with views across the Suffolk marshes.

Expanding to Snape is the natural development of our relationship with Aldeburgh Music. Together we’ve already presented nine triumphant Poetry Proms – bringing audiences of 800 for live poetry each summer – and now it’s time for this same partnership to deliver an unrivalled poetry experience each autumn.

Rest assured, the spirit of the Festival and its unique format won’t change. The same programming team is still in charge and we can guarantee the customary fresh line-up of brilliant poets from all over the world. And we’re definitely not abandoning Aldeburgh. Each day will start and finish in our traditional Peter Pears Gallery and James Cable Room venues. We’re sure that most of the audience – and certainly all our Festival poets – will continue to stay in the town. That’s why we’ll be running a free shuttle bus service between Aldeburgh and Snape (a 10-15 minute trip) throughout the weekend. Because we know that part of the Festival magic will always include walks on the shingle, fish and chips on the sea wall, browsing in the Aldeburgh Bookshop.

We’ll certainly keep you in the picture about what’s happening in this momentous year. We’re making a short film to introduce the Snape locations and to explain more about the Festival’s next chapter – available in June via our website and on YouTube. We’re launching a new Festival Friends scheme in the summer – with a range of new benefits on offer. And of course the full Festival programme will be coming your way in August.

Do join us this November for the unmissable Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in its exceptional new setting. The best place for the best words.



Aldeburgh First Collection Prize

We’re delighted to announce the judges of this year’s Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. Robert Seatter, whose third collection Writing King Kong (Seren) was recently published, will Chair – joined by Esther Morgan whose third collection Grace (Bloodaxe) was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and Alicia Stubbersfield whose fourth collection The Yellow Table (Pindrop Press) will be published later this year.

In addition to the cash award (£1,000), the Aldeburgh prize carries two incalculable benefits for the winner: a fee-paying invitation to read at the following year’s Festival, plus a unique week’s paid protected writing time on the inspirational East Suffolk coast. No other poetry prize makes such a tangible investment in new talent. Entry details are here.

Winner of last year’s prize, Nancy Gaffield, who’ll be taking her place in the line-up at the 24th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival (2–4 November 2012), was astonished at her win last autumn. “For me, Tokaido Road was a book that just had to be written: how it would be received was a complete unknown. I never imagined that it would achieve such recognition. Aldeburgh attracts support from so many distinguished poets and commands so much respect, that I could not have wished for a better reception for my work.”

Judges picture


Kay Ryan’s Q & A now available

With April being US Poetry Month, we thought we'd take the opportunity to celebrate Kay Ryan’s appearance at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival last November and share the best of her refreshing Q&A session with Naomi Jaffa.

It’s available now at The Poetry Channel, along with six Festival 2011 podcasts: Robert Seatter’s conversations with Fleur Adcock, Jane Draycott, Maurice Riordan and Chris Wallace-Crabbe, plus new Poem Shows. Here’s some more details in case you need persuading.


Kay Ryan Q & A
Naomi Jaffa asks the questions as recent US Laureate Kay Ryan discusses the uselessness of poetry, the strange way she discovered Emily Dickinson, her love of the edges of poems – ‘If you only like crusts you get rid of the middle of the sandwich’ – and the introduction of a phrase new to most of us: ‘the stink of the lamp’.


Poem Show 12 – Memory & Preservation
Three memorable poems demonstrating the preservative powers of poetry. Maurice Riordan explores how and what we remember in his nostalgic and rueful list poem ‘Gone With The Wind’; followed by Leontia Flynn’s tender and candid ‘My Father’s Language’; and to finish, Christian Campbell passionately memorialising history, wit and friendship in ‘Oregon Elegy’.


Poem Show 13 – Human Relationships
Three inter-generational poems from Aldeburgh 2011 about human relationships. In ‘The Lovers’, 90-year old Fergus Allen shows age is no barrier to recalling the pleasures of the flesh; Emily Berry’s ‘Our Love Could Spoil Dinner’ fuses deadpan tonal control with wonderfully left-field intimacies; and Robert Hass’s ‘Privilege of Being’ beautifully captures the absurdity and the ecstasy of love.


Kay Ryan and Naomi Jaffa picture


The Poetry Paper Issue 8

The 8th edition of The Poetry Paper was launched at the 23rd Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and copies are now available. Our best ever issue (we think), it’s a veritable and stylish-as-ever cornucopia of poetry treats. You'll find essays by Robert Hass and Kay Ryan; Alice Oswald talking about Memorial, her new version of Homer’s Iliad; interviews with Helen Dunmore and Jackie Kay; Jane Draycott on her approach to Pearl; Luljeta Lleshanaku’s development as a poet in Albania; new poems by Fleur Adcock, Fergus Allen, Roger McGough and Oliver Reynolds, and lots more. 24 packed pages. And what’s more, it’s FREE (yes, really) and distributed nationally to numerous poetry/literature/arts venues and outlets across the UK, and by mail on request (UK only). Email us to request your copy. Or enjoy it right here, right now in a special flipbook e-read version.

Liz Bentley


Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2011

Nancy Gaffield pictureNancy Gaffield’s Tokaido Road has won this year’s Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2011. The news was announced by The Poetry Trust’s Director, Naomi Jaffa at the start of the 23rd Aldeburgh Poetry Festival on Friday 4 November.
Many congratulations to Nancy – and also to her publisher, Charles Boyle of CB Editions.
Read a poem from Tokaido Road.

In addition to the cash award (£1,000), the Aldeburgh prize carries two incalculable benefits for the winner. Nancy Gaffield will receive a paid invitation to read at next year’s 24th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, plus a unique week’s paid protected writing time on the inspirational East Suffolk coast. No other poetry prize makes such an investment in new talent.

A year ago, Nancy was still waiting to hear if her book would be published and she was simply astonished at the news of her win:

“For me, Tokaido Road was a book that just had to be written: how it would be received was a complete unknown. I never imagined that it would achieve such recognition. Aldeburgh attracts support from so many distinguished poets and commands so much respect, that I could not have wished for a better reception for my work.”

The book (which was also shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection) was described by Robert Seatter, one of this year’s three judges, as “a remarkable piece of subtle, sustained and surprising writing. Taking as its starting point a set of period Japanese prints, Nancy reinvents these images as a revelatory journey which feels both fresh and timeless. It’s as if every word must have been written before, but comes new off the page.”

“The poems are strong in atmosphere and realisation, fluid, involving, at home with the uncertain, with human grief, memory, longing, history”, according to fellow judge Penelope Shuttle. “Here, then, is poetry as time machine, providing what Elizabeth Bishop required of poetry – ‘mystery, accuracy, and spontaneity’.”

Charles Boyle, Founding Editor of CB Editions said:
“However good, first collections from small presses are rarely noticed by more than a handful of dedicated readers. Even to be on the shortlist for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize makes a big difference: attention is focused, and the book begins to gain the readership it deserves. The prize deserves the continuing support of everyone – the Arts Council included – interested in widening the audience for new poetry.”

The judges for the 2011 Aldeburgh First Collection Prize were Michael Laskey (Chair), Robert Seatter and Penelope Shuttle. Their 2011 Shortlist comprised:
  Rachael Boast     Sidereal (Picador)
  Tom Duddy          The Hiding Place (Arlen House)
  Nancy Gaffield     Tokaido Road (CB Editions)
  Ed Reiss              Your Sort (Smith Doorstop)
  Jacqueline Saphra The Kitchen of Lovely Contraptions
    (Flipped Eye Publishing)

First Collection Prize Shortlist

The Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, established in 1989, was the first UK award designed to recognise and benefit a poet at first book stage. Supported from 2003 until 2008 by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation (as the Jerwood Aldeburgh First Collection Prize), it is one of the UK’s oldest and most influential prizes for contemporary poetry. Previous winners include Tiffany Atkinson, Colette Bryce, Christian Campbell, Nick Laird, Esther Morgan, Robin Robertson, Henry Shukman and Susan Wicks.


The 23rd Aldeburgh Poetry Festival

We’re back and unpacked from the 23rd Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. We’d like to thank all the poets and all the audience for making it a very special event this year – absorbing, exhilarating and uplifting. It feels definitely worth the year’'s work.

We hoped you enjoyed the Aldeburgh Experience. Poets always say that it’s the audience that makes the Festival special – phenomenally big and extraordinarily attentive – so thank you if you were among this year’s multitudinous attenders. And if you couldn’t make it this time, the good news is that there will be another Festival next year. We’ll be announcing some exciting plans soon – and the dates for next year. So do keep clicking back to this site and definitely ‘like’ our Facebook page!

Festival discussion picture


The 23rd Aldeburgh Poetry Festival is here

We’ve been planning it all year and finally the 23rd International Aldeburgh Poetry Festival is upon us. The town’s shop windows are festooned with poster poems and 25 poets are now gathering in a small seaside town on the Suffok coast from all over the world. 53 events (15 free); 21 sold out or just about to; 3,128 tickets already issued. It’s going to be… quite something!

We hope we’ll see you there – but if you aren’t able to attend (or you’re reading this after the Festival), listen out for our Aldeburgh podcasts on the Poetry Channel. We’ll be posting a whole host of these in the coming days and weeks and one directly from the Festival over the weekend.

We’ll also be announcing the winner of our First Collection Prize on Friday and there’ll be news of that here too.

In the meantime, we’d like to wish everyone a very happy Aldeburgh Poetry Festival.



Aldeburgh Poetry Festival 2011 Video Show

We're counting off the days to the 23rd International Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and to whet appetites even further we've put together some tasters of the poets who will be making their way to the Suffolk coast very shortly (click on the poem titles in italics to see these poets in action). For instance...

You won't want to miss Roger McGough at Aldeburgh. He'll be showing the range of his work with a Family Reading, a more adult set in his cabaret event and he'll also be subject to a Q & A from TPT's very own Dean Parkin. Here's Roger delivering the very moving poem A Fine Romance. There really is only one Roger McGough!

‎Fleur Adcock is another poet we're delighted to be welcoming back to Suffolk. As well as reading, she'll be discussing the 21st Century Poem, reconsidering the work of George MacBeth and also giving a Close Reading. Here's Fleur reading two wonderfully Adcock-ian poems - Weathering and Things.

Aldeburgh has a tradition of bringing the best American poets to the UK and so we're excited to have Kay Ryan at the Festival for her first reading in this country. A fomer US Poet Laureate, she's very much followed her own style. Here's Kay reading a particularly delicious poem Turtle.

It's an American Poet Laureate double-bill because we've also got Robert Hass winging his way from San Francisco. He's a giant of US poetry and also an authority on Haiku and Polish grand master Milosz (he'll be doing events on both at Aldeburgh). Here he is celebrating the Haikus of Issa at the Dodge Poetry Festival.

Just four reasons why you can't afford to miss the UK's best annual celebration of contemporary poetry.



Invaluable Festival Support

Without the generous support – large and small – of multiple funders, individual friends, local businesses, national organisations and many more, the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival simply wouldn’t be possible. The Poetry Trust is extraordinarily grateful, especially in this difficult year, and with the 23rd Festival fast approaching, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our crucial and generous funders.

You can see who they all are:
Festival Supporters
Corporate Friends


Poetry Channel Latest

We’re still basking in the afterglow of August’s successful Poetry Prom with two new podcasts celebrating the event on The Poetry Channel this September.

Now available is a Poem Show Special, featuring three highlights from the night, one each from Helen Dunmore, Jackie Kay and Alice Oswald. You can also hear some audience reaction to the Prom – and what makes it such an exceptional event. And later this month we’ll be posting an Alice Oswald Interview about her new book, Memorial (her ‘’version’ of Homer’s Iliad). Look out for more details in this month’s forthcoming STUFF (our e-newsletter). For the freshest Poetry Trust news delivered to your inbox, sign up for it here.


Fabulous Poetry Prom

Yet again, the Poetry Prom demonstrated the power and appeal of hearing brilliant poets read their own poems. Helen Dunmore, Jackie Kay and Alice Oswald were on terrific form on 23rd August and it was a real privilege to present their vividly contrasting styles and voices.

Alice wondered how on earth we get an audience of over 700 to a poetry gig in deepest Suffolk. But for the ninth year in a row that’s exactly what happened – with more than a third of the audience experiencing live poetry in the incredible setting of the Snape Maltings Concert Hall for the very first time. And if proof were needed that most poetry books sell at readings, then look no further than the Poetry Prom: it took the poets quite a while to sign some of the 250 books that were sold.

All three poets kept wonderfully to time – reading for 25 minutes each – and there’s a sample poem from each in our latest Poem Show podcast, available on The Poetry Channel. Helen opened, engaging us all from the start with her stylish confidence, warmth and wisdom. Jackie’s infectious humour and humanity bounced us between laughter and lump in the throat – and back. And for oral and aural poetry at its most potent, Alice treated us to a preview extract from Memorial – her new ‘version’ of Homer’s Iliad – which isn’t due to be published until October (but Faber got advance copies to Snape in time).

A big thank you to our three great British women poets for such a memorable poetry night.

Prom Photographer: Peter Everard Smith


Aldeburgh Poetry Festival 2011 Programme

We’re delighted to announce that this year’s Aldeburgh Festival programme is now available – 25 poets from all over the UK and beyond: Albania, America, Australia, The Bahamas, Ireland, Jordan and New Zealand – coming to Suffolk this autumn (4-6 November) to take part in 52 interconnecting events (14 are free).

We’ll be putting the spotlight on the poets and their events in the coming months on this website and in STUFF (our monthly e-newsletter). For now though, we think you’ll just want to have your own look through the programme – it’s available to download online here or you can always join our mailing list here and we’ll pop one in the post to you.

Austerity measures have inspired Silk Pearce’s design this year. To save paper, production, postage and distribution costs, our programme booklet is shorter and in black and white. And instead of commissioning a new illustrator, we’ve been recycling, using photographs from Peter Everard Smith’s unique Festival archive (Peter’s been our ‘poet catcher’ with a camera since 2003). We think it looks really stylish and certainly there’s been no cut in the quality of the artistic programme.

Though the programme booklet is shorter, you can find more info about the poets this year on this website – if you browse the programme online here, you’ll find a full biog about each poet and a sample poem under their events. Our small (smaller than ever!) dedicated team have worked harder than ever to put together this year’s Festival – we think it will be worth it and we hope that you’ll want to join us in Aldeburgh this autumn.



Poetry Paper Advertising 2011

Reserving advertising space in The Poetry Paper 2011

The Poetry Paper is our stylish annual newspaper – interviews, articles and new poems from the poets we’ve brought to Suffolk during the year for the Festival and the Poetry Prom. Copies are free, nationally distributed and snapped up fast. It is also available in full (and free) online - last year's issue can still be seen here. The Poetry Paper is the best way of extending the reach of the Festival and celebrating this year’s team of poets.

Now onto its eighth edition, The Poetry Paper has become an eagerly anticipated annual fixture and advertising space is allocated on a first come, first served basis. For a fourth-year running we have frozen the cost in recognition of the tight budgets many organisations face. Advertising space starts at just £170.

All print advertisers will also receive a web advert - with logo, weblink and up to 50 words of text.


Nationally distributed and targeted at poets and creative writers, poetry and literature enthusiasts and arts/contemporary culture audiences. 5,000 free copies will be distributed from November 2011 until March 2011.

Specific outlets include:
• Aldeburgh Poetry Festival 2011
• T S Eliot Prize reading, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre (1,200 capacity audience in 2010)
• Arts & cultural centres (Southbank Centre, Kings Place, Snape Maltings, Dancehouse, Troubadour etc)
• Other poetry and literature festivals (Cambridge WordFest, The Cúirt, StAnza, UEA Literary Festival etc)
• Arvon Centres; University Creative Writing Departments
• Bookshops & libraries (including Scottish Poetry Library, The Poetry Library)
• Arts editors of all national newspapers


Exclusive interviews with Alice Oswald and Simon Armitage, contributions from 2011 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival poets (including new poems), commissioned articles and some quirky diversions. The Poetry Paper is 28 pages long and a maximum of six pages are allocated for advertising. This is a non-profit-making enterprise, with advertising revenue ploughed straight back into covering most of the design, production and distribution costs.

Next steps...

If you're interested in advertising or would like to be sent a copy of last year's Poetry Paper please contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call 01986 835950.


The Poetry Prom 2011

We’re delighted to announce that this year The Poetry Prom (Tuesday 23 August at 7.30pm) will feature a unique trio of great British women poets: Helen Dunmore, Jackie Kay and Alice Oswald, and celebrate once again the range and pleasures of the spoken word. The Poetry Prom is part of The Poetry Trust’s ongoing partnership with Aldeburgh Music, and takes place in the beautiful Snape Maltings Concert Hall. It really is a wonderful setting for a poetry reading and we hope to see you there. In the meantime, here’s some more info about this year's Poetry Prom Three:

Helen Dunmore is one of this country’s major literary talents. Best known as a novelist – she won the inaugural Orange Prize for Fiction – she also writes short stories, children’s books, radio plays and, of course, poetry. Winner of the National Poetry Competition in 2010, she has published eight collections of richly lyrical and humane poems.

In these times, we should be glad of this voice.
The Guardian

Another of our most acclaimed, all-round writers – memoir, short stories, books for children, plays and a first novel which won the Guardian Fiction Prize – Jackie Kay also began with poetry. Her searching explorations of identity and belonging are courageous and often very funny. She has published seven collections and is an irresistibly natural and warm performer.

Kay’s humour and optimism are transcendent.
Sunday Herald

Alice Oswald is a born poet, embracing and extending the canon of English poetry. Innovative and accomplished, she won the T S Eliot Prize in 2002 for the second of her five collections. Her powerful poems demonstrate a love of the oral tradition, a passionate concern for the planet and a deep affinity with the natural world. And her on-stage delivery is mesmerising.

Oswald emerges as an inheritor of some of Britain’s greatest poetic voices, an heir to Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney and Geoffrey Hill.
The Times

Performance suitable for adults and teenagers.

Tickets £14, £12, £10, Prom £6
(General booking opens Monday 6 June)

In partnership with    logo

Sponsored by    logo

Picture of the three poets


Prom Poet Alice Oswald on The Poetry Channel

To whet the appetite for Alice Oswald's forthcoming Poetry Prom appearance in August, go directly to The Poetry Channel where we’ve just uploaded a podcast of her revelatory 2007 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival interview about ‘Poetry & Landscape’ with former Arvon Director, Ariane Koek.

Director of The Poetry Trust, Naomi Jaffa, recently had to listen (really listen!) to this interview from start to finish for transcription purposes. And she was completely hooked - "It was a marvellous conversation! The kind of Radio 3 or 4 programme you'd have to stay sitting in your car until the end of (if you're interested in Alice's work / her singular approach to writing poetry / our relationships with landscape)." So, do go download!



Your Very Own Poetry Channel Listen Again Service

Are there any stand-out poems or talks you remember from previous Aldeburgh Poetry Festivals? We’re currently putting together this summer’s programme for The Poetry Channel and would love to hear which are your favourite poems (or poets) or talks you’ve heard at Aldeburgh over the years.

Armed with your suggestions, we’d like to put together a special 'Aldeburgh Audience' Poem Show or perhaps upload a memorable Craft Talk or Close Reading which you’d really like to hear again. So do please email us and let us know your Festival favourites from the past and we'll see what we can do...

Below: Our podcast producer Nick Patrick captures the words of American poet Marie Howe at last year’s Aldeburgh Poetry Festival launch

Picture of Nick Patrick


Arts Council England Funding Decision

The Poetry Trust has not been awarded NPO status from Arts Council England for the period 2012-15. The Arts Council has been a long term supporter and funder of The Poetry Trust and we’re grateful for its investment to date, for how much it has valued the importance and quality of what we do for contemporary poetry.

This NPO decision is clearly a major blow and disappointment which will take time to digest. However, nothing changes the importance or quality of what we do for today’s poets, for poetry audiences and for poetry itself – all of which comes together with fantastic energy at our internationally acclaimed and hugely well-attended Aldeburgh Poetry Festival (now in its 23rd year).

The Poetry Trust’s board of trustees and core team will now examine how best we can go forwards and whether the organisation has a viable future. There may be other Arts Council funding avenues to explore. There are certainly partnership opportunities to consider. Although it’s too early for specific answers or plans, our first priority will be to look to existing and new funders and friends to make sure that, at very least, the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival can have a future.

Please email if you can support The Poetry Trust in any way.


Seminar Success

Another Seminar and another success - eight energised poets left Suffolk on 18 March revitalised and energised after an intensive five days of writing and talking poetry -  It has left me with new friends, poets to discover, said Liz Berry, and a head fizzing with ideas.

The eight lucky poets were Liz Berry (30, London), Jamie Coward (38, Sheffield), Ramona Herdman (32, Norwich), Hannah Lowe (34, London), Alex McCrae (31, Washington DC), Fiona Moore (51, London), Jocelyn Page (44, London) and Luke Yates (27, Manchester) and were certainly a talented bunch of poets. We really look forward to reading more of their work in the future and seeing them go onto to publication and no doubt picking up a few awards along the way.

The Poetry Trust has been running this Suffolk ‘retreat/hot-house’ for poets either near, at or just beyond first collection stage at Bruisyard Hall in Suffolk for four years. The course was a great week and both the tutors and participants came away refreshed and enlivened. Let's leave it to two of the participants to say what the week meant to them...

The seminar gave us all a great opportunity to articulate stored anxieties, concern, reflections and wisdom and to think productively about ways forward. It was fantastic to spend time with people who care as much about poetry as I do. Hannah Lowe

I will go away revitalised, with a much more vigorous approach to my practice – sorry! – my writing. What has impressed me most of all is the dedication of the staff and tutors – all of them. They really care about this stuff. Jocelyn Page

Seminar 'Eight' Biographies


Andrew Motion’s First Stage Play

The Poetry Trust is delighted to announce an exciting new partnership with the HighTide Festival Theatre this year. We’re proud to be co-producing Andrew Motion’s first stage play – Incoming – which will be previewed at the 5th HighTide Festival in Halesworth (7/8 May) and then performed in the Theatre Tent at Latitude Festival in Suffolk (15–17 July) and at the 23rd Aldeburgh Poetry Festival (4–6 November).

Andrew Motion has chosen to make his debut as a playwright with a controversial work about the war in Afghanistan. Incoming tells the story of Danny, a soldier killed in Afghanistan, his grieving widow Steph and their young son Jack. The play examines Britain's place in the world, the sacrifices made for that place and the repercussions, both private and public, of those sacrifices. It promises to be a first play of true wisdom and sensitivity.

HighTide Festival specialises in the discovery, development and performances of new plays by highly talented new dramatists. The range of plays is always stimulating, with individual productions often outstanding and clearly destined for great things. HighTide Festival happens at The Cut Arts Centre (home of The Poetry Trust) and makes imaginative and brilliant use of the building’s atmosphere and different performance spaces. If you like quality contemporary theatre and would like to experience another of Suffolk’s world-class cultural treasures, book now for this year’s programme. It’ll be brilliant!





The Poetry Channel - Conversation & Mass Workshop

Another two podcasts have been added to The Poetry Channel to put a spring in your step in March:

Aldeburgh’s Open Workshop
What has 800 fingers, 160 feet and 80 heads sprouting fresh ideas and new poems? It’s the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival’s ever-popular mass writing workshop, annually led by Michael Laskey and Jeni Smith. Nick Patrick investigates its collective writing energy and appeal…

Aldeburgh Conversation 2010: Imtiaz Dharker
Imtiaz Dharker in conversation with Robert Seatter, discussing her wide range of influences – everything from the lullabies sung by her grandmother, Glaswegian swear words and the importance of the image to her writing.


Poetry Foundation monthly Poetry Lecture

The Poetry Trust has teamed up with Poetry Foundation (Chicago). Throughout November the leading US organisation for poetry is featuring our Seamus Heaney podcast (recorded at this summer's Poetry Prom) as their monthly Poetry Lecture. They've created a great new programme - with Christian Wiman (editor of Poetry) talking about Heaney's poetry and incoporating the Poetry Prom's unique conversation between Heaney and Michael Laskey, co-founder of the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival.
Listen here.



An exhilarating weekend of words

According to Mandy Coe: "The three days of the festival are but the visible part of this event. The team's accumulated years of experience shine, not just through their professionalism and excellent planning but in enabling something much more rare to happen: everyone - performers, audience, children and seniors alike - are valued and equal participants... creators! All my writing life I have heard the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival spoken of with awe; now I know why."

Here's a chance to explore or re-visit some of the pleasures of the weekend.

The Guardian Books blog announces Christian Campbell as the winner of the 2010 Aldeburgh First Collection Prize for Running the Dusk (Peepal Tree), with judge Jo Shapcott praising his "bravura performance". Whilst last year's winner JO Morgan read in the Jubilee Hall (and copies of his Natural Mechanical sold out immediately) alongside Matthew Caley and Don Paterson in an exceptional three-handed reading that sets the standard for the weekend.

Acclaimed travel-writer Hugh Thomson, blogs the Festival weekend with thoughts on everything - from Stanley Kunitz's principle that "poetry should exploit the lyric tension of the fact that we are both living and dying at the same time" to which Aldeburgh poet boasts the best hair. And catch some 'fringe' blogs from young artist Rosie Kirton and poetry publisher Charles Christian at Ink, Sweat & Tears

Following his talk on The Poetry Archive, Andrew Motion buys our Poetry Channel producer Nick Patrick a pint and shares his thoughts on "not wanting to live in a country of dark theatres & closed libraries with no literature festivals." Eavesdrop on their open and engaging conversation live from The Mill Inn, Aldeburgh, now on The Poetry Channel.

Swedish writer and Nobel Prize nominee Lars Gustafsson describes Aldeburgh as "one of the finest quality festivals of Europe" before making a swift exit from his conversation with Bernard Kops about 'The Subversive Poet' - following 'lively exchanges' - and heads straight to London to discuss this hot Festival topic on Radio 4's Start the Week. Listen again

Finally, enjoy the Festival photo gallery and listen to our Aldeburgh Takeaway podcast in which Imtiaz Dharker, Inua Ellams, Mandy Coe and others share their thoughts on what they'll 'take away' from their first Aldeburgh Poetry Festival.


The Festival in pictures

A journey through the 22nd Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in pictures. Enjoy portraits and group shots from the Festival launch through to the final Sunday reading from Festival photographer Peter Everard Smith.

Aldeburgh beach

Click for: Festival Gallery


Aldeburgh Poet Lars Gustafsson

Aldeburgh poet Lars Gustafsson was on Start the Week on BBC Radio 4 on Monday 8 November, talking to Andrew Marr and guests about his Aldeburgh Poetry Festival discussion - 'The writers responsibility to challenge the establishment'. Anyone who caught the event at Aldeburgh will know what a deeply perceptive & reflective man Lars is - if you missed it do 'listen again'. You can also hear Lars in coversation with Robert Seatter, Head of BBC History in a new podcast on our Poetry Channel.



How was it for you?

If you made it to the 22nd Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, while it's fresh in your mind, we'd be enormously grateful if you'd make time to complete our online Festival survey. Your feedback and ideas will help inform plans to develop the Festival and The Poetry Trust's year-round programme. In the current climate of arts funding cuts and an uncertain future, we need more than ever to understand what our audiences value and where we can make improvements.

To complete the survey please click here:

All survey respondents will be entered into a prize draw with a chance to win a signed copy of Carol Ann Duffy's new pamphlet - The Twelve Poems of Christmas (Volume Two) from the small and stylish independent publisher Candlestick Press.

Please do share your thoughts - it's the best way for us to understand the Festival from the audience perspective and go on developing the programme and the quality of the experience.

Thank you!


Hot off the press

Featuring exclusive interviews with Seamus Heaney & Don Paterson, Bill Manhire on how to keep writing, an introduction to Marie Howe - plus new poems from Jack Underwood, Caroline Bird, Toon Tellegen and more. The Poetry Paper is back and it's the best yet. Aldeburgh Poetry Festival audience members were the first to get their hands on this perfectly packaged triumph of content and style. And if you couldn't make it to the Festival, for the first time you can enjoy The Poetry Paper online through an interactive flipbook. The not-for-profit Poetry Paper is made possible because of advertising revenue generated from the literature/arts sector. The Poetry Trust would like to thank these organisations for their support.



The 22nd Aldeburgh Poetry Festival

We're settling back into the office after an absorbing and exhilarating Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. And we'd like to say a big thank you to all the poets and the Aldeburgh audience for making the 2010 Festival rather special.

We've already started work on bringing you some of the highlights of the weekend. Three new podcasts are available on The Poetry Channel. Relive the Festival Launch with poems from Mandy Coe, Bill Manhire, Marie Howe, Harry Clifton & Dorianne Laux. Enjoy celebrated Swedish writer Lars Gustafsson talking to Head of BBC History (and TPT board member) Robert Seatter. And don't miss Andrew Motion live from the Mill Inn, Aldeburgh sharing a pint with BBC producer Nick Patrick. Gustafsson also appeared on Radio 4's Start the Week on Monday 8th November talking to Andrew Marr about his Festival topic 'The Subversive Poet'. Anyone who caught the event at Aldeburgh will know what a deeply perceptive & reflective man Lars is, do 'listen again' if you missed it.

Look out for more Aldeburgh 2010 podcasts in the coming weeks - behind the scenes interviews and discussions with Festival poets, Poem Shows and the best bits from this year's programme and the Aldeburgh Experience.



The Guardian Books blog comments on Aldeburgh First Collection Prize winner

Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2010 - Winner announced

The winner of the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2010 - one of the most important and established poetry awards in the UK - was announced at the 22nd Aldeburgh Poetry Festival on Friday 5 November at 8pm. The recipient of this best first collection prize is the young Caribbean poet Christian Campbell for Running the Dusk (Peepal Tree Press). The Guardian Books Blog comments on the announcement.

Judge Jo Shapcott praised the collection as a "bravura performance" describing Campbell's poems as "energetic, fluid and musical and full of loss, hope and imagination." The book, which was also shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, was described by fellow judge Neil Rollinson as "the clear stand out among all the volumes I read."

Campbell responded to news of his win with:

"Let's just say that I'm 'feeling good' in the Nina Simone way! I'm honoured to be a part of a moment of great energy and transformation in contemporary poetry in the UK. It's very, very difficult for any young poet, and for any Caribbean poet, to get this level of recognition."

Jeremy Poynting, Founding Editor of Peepal Tree Press said:

"Christian is a hugely talented poet; his patience in waiting until he had a collection he was really comfortable with is a model for all young poets. We always felt confident Running the Dusk would be recognised for its outstanding qualities - its wit and its warmth."

In addition to a £3,000 cheque, Christian Campbell receives an invitation to read at next year's 23rd Aldeburgh Poetry Festival (4-6 November 2011), plus a week's protected writing time on the inspirational East Suffolk coast.

Further information, contact: Alice Kent, 01986 835950 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)