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.

Hooray For Henry!

Well the subject line says it all for this one, but just in case you missed it last time round this is your last chance to buy tickets for our festival headliner


He’s joining us this evening (Sunday 19th) from 7:30pm at Trinity Theatre and we can’t wait! If you have yet to buy your tickets grab them while you still can, because whatever your taste in poetry or comedy Henry is sure to tick all the right boxes and has the pedigree to prove it. Whether TV, radio, or live performance Henry has been delighting audiences for over three decades, and having been instrumental in setting up two major poetry festivals himself there’s not much he doesn’t know about keeping festival audiences happy and entertained.

Henry’s planned tour in support of libraries in 2020 / 21 was scuppered by Covid and lockdowns. Confined to barracks, Henry instead shared a tour of his home, posting videos for each of the library venues he had intended visiting. This is taken from day two…

Well here we are…

halfway through our festival with a wealth of wonderful poetry and workshops already under our belts, but there’s still much more to come in the second half, including tonight’s Poets in Pubs open mic at Rusthall Club with special guests Harry Barden and A P Staunton.

Continuing with local poets and poetry groups on Saturday afternoon we have Pop up Poetry at Trinity Theatre Café, setting the stage admirably for our headline act Henry Normal on Sunday evening.

If you don’t know Henry yet you really should book tickets to get to know him. Wit, raconteur and superb wordsmith, his live show blends poetry, monologue and razor-sharp observational comedy to please all.

Workshops this week include a link-up with New York for Suzanne Cleary’s Power of Not Knowing, exploring the element of surprise in poetry, while Sarah Salway and friends invite us into their Poetry Pod to share their enthusiasm and insight into collaborative writing. Also this week we have the rescheduled Performance Poetry workshop with John Wheeler, so if you couldn’t make the original date you now have a second opportunity to get involved.

Still much more to come as we head into week three, so check back soon for the Sunday update and BUY TICKETS!

We have lift off…

Two reading events at Tunbridge Wells Forum got the festival off to a cracking start over the jubilee weekend with a celebration of local poetry on Saturday and an Under 18’s open mic on Sunday.

Our youngest reader, Ava, delighted us with a self-penned poem about volcanoes that really blew us away!

Moving forward, we have our first headline performance of the festival tomorrow (Wednesday) evening when we welcome internationally acclaimed artists Anne Denholm (Celtic harp) and Chris Tutton (poet) to Penshurst church to share their collaborative project “Imaginary Landscapes”. This promises to be a very special event, and we are delighted to be one of the first festivals (we were pipped at the post by Hay-on-Wye) to include it among their programme. Tickets available HERE

In addition to Imaginary Landscapes we also have our first Poets in Pubs open mic this week at Even Flow café bar. We already have a good selection of names in the hat for this one, but if you get in quick we might just manage to squeeze you in. Contact the venue on 01892 739991 for latest updates on availability.

With two workshops coming up too we’re certainly living up to our motto of ‘poetry for all’, and there’s plenty more to come in weeks two and three. We hope you can be part of it all and to see you soon.

Almost there…

So time to buy your event tickets, book your workshops and sign up for our open mics.

Yes, there are just a few days to go until our Festival begins with a taster and showcase of local talent at Tunbridge Wells Forum on Saturday 4th June. Lots of local names, including many who will be leading workshops in the coming weeks, so a good introduction to what we have on offer.

Speaking of which, check the video below for a mixtape of this year’s programme and a few reminders of last year’s events.