The Return of Henry Normal

We could all use some good news, so we are happy to announce that last year’s hugely entertaining festival headliner and Radio 4 favourite, Henry Normal, is returning to the borough on Wednesday 15 March 2023 to launch his new book, The Fire Hills. And you are invited!

Hosted by Kent Libraries at Southborough Civic Centre, this will be a free evening event. Enjoy selected readings with the chance to meet the author and to buy signed copies of his books. Limited spaces available so booking essential. Please reserve your free ticket here.


The Gift of Words

With Christmas almost upon us, why not give someone you love – which might be yourself! – a gift that will go on giving throughout the New Year. Inspiring writing courses, subscriptions and, of course, wonderful books are on offer from some of our excellent local writers. Here is a small selection.

Hurry along to The Book Room on St John’s Road in Tunbridge Wells. This pop-up treasure trove has been created by local writer Anna Wharton and curated by fellow authors. With Christmas book ‘hampers’ available as well as children’s books, this is the perfect place to find wordy treats – but it is only popping up till Christmas Eve, so don’t wait!

In need of writing inspiration? Then look no further!

For writing prompts, reading suggestions, poems & more, Sarah Salway offers a subscription to her monthly Substack newsletter, Everyday Words, for just £5 – but there is a free offer at the moment so don’t hesitate!


For in-person writing guidance, Charlie Bell offers popular courses suitable for all levels. Poet, educator and Chair of our festival committee, Charlie brings a wealth of experience to his friendly and accessible classes in the Tunbridge Wells area.

Don’t forget that the Kent & Sussex Poetry Society hosts a monthly meeting and offers peer-led poetry workshops for members to receive feedback on their writing. The meetings are a mix of in-person and online events, each featuring a renowned guest poet, often with open mic opportunities. Meetings are free to members (annual membership just £15 – a perfect Christmas gift for anybody interested in poetry!) and £3 for guests.

Wishing you all a Very Merry Wordy Christmas!


Loads of Odes this Autumn

If you missed the wonderful Imaginary Landscapes at the festival earlier this year, you have the chance to enjoy this captivating event at Canterbury Festival this month. Internationally acclaimed performers Chris Tutton (poetry) and Anne Denholm (harp) will appear on Tuesday 25 October at St Peter’s Methodist Church in Canterbury, at 8.00 pm.


While for those who like to stand up and perform their own words, the next Word Up! open mic takes place at Tunbridge Wells Forum on Wednesday 2 November – go on, you know you want to!


Plenty of poetry to enjoy this season, right on our doorstep. If you would like your poetry event featured in our blog, please do get in touch!

Hello Again!

Well, hasn’t time flown? Following a wonderfully varied and successful festival back in June, we have taken a summer breather and we are re-emerging with ideas for 2023. These very much include collaborations with more venues and organisations within the local community and beyond. Watch this space…

Meanwhile, poetry is positively buzzing in Tunbridge Wells. Our friends at Word Up! have relaunched their popular and well established open mic spoken word and slam events based at the Forum, while the high-profile spoken word artist George the Poet comes to the Assembly Hall on October 5.

Prominent and critically acclaimed local poet Jessica Mookherjee, who featured at our festival this year, launches her latest collection, Notes From a Shipwreck, on October 25 at Waterstones in Tunbridge Wells.

Don’t forget that the Kent & Sussex Poetry Society hosts a monthly meeting. These are a mix of in-person and online events, each featuring a renowned guest poet, often with open mic opportunities. Follow us and follow them to keep up with the poetry action!


The final leg of our Poets in Pubs pub crawl last night, and what a triumph these events have been. Taking in Southborough, Rusthall and the Top of the Town itself we’ve entertained and been entertained by old friends and new faces alike, introducing special guests like A. P. Staunton and Roger West to new audiences along the way. And it goes without saying that our guest MC’s, Harry Barden and John Wheeler, have done Voices and regular hosts (Pam) Flitt & (Ivor) Folio proud.

Huge thanks to all, and to the lovely people at Even Flow, Rusthall Club, and Plant Base for making us all so welcome, with an extra special thank you too to all those who have cut their performance teeth with us at these evenings; first timers are the life blood of community poetry, and we have been delighted by both the number and quality of newbie readers we’ve gently nudged into the limelight. The warmth and generosity of our regular Voices audiences plays a big part in that process, so thanks again from Pam and Ivor to all the old lags who make these events so special.

Next stop for Open Mic action is the festival’s Wordplay Fun Day and Verse-a-Tility variety evening at Tunbridge Wells Forum on Sunday (26th), where we’ll be catching up with Harry Barden and A P Staunton again, along with a host of other special guests and performances. This is far too big an event to do justice in a paragraph here, so we’ll post a dedicated blog with full details soon.

Still plenty to come before Sunday, though, with Siân Thomas offering an al fresco workshop in Ashdown Forest on nature and poetry this afternoon (Thursday 23rd) and Costa winner Hannah Lowe sharing her words in an intimate reading and book signing at Waterstones tomorrow.

The latter, we should advise, is now SOLD OUT, so if you haven’t got tickets you have missed your chance (we did warn you!). There are still a few spaces left for Sian’s workshop if you act quickly, and we are hoping the grey clouds currently hovering will be quickly chased away to provide the glorious backdrop the forest afforded us last year.