Goodbye 2021, Here’s to 2022

Following an amazingly successful series of events for 2021 the festival committee met on Friday evening to officially wind up this year and start planning for 2022. Early days, but with a packed two week programme now under our belts despite the uncertainties arising from Covid and its lockdowns we feel confident that we can deliver an even bigger and better festival next year.

This year has been a major learning curve, but the universally positive feedback we have received has reassured us that we’re very much on the right track. Our aim from the outset was to deliver “poetry for all, big and small” and our community events certainly lived up to that intention. Next year, with fewer restrictions (we hope!) to contend with we’ll be offering many more opportunities for local poets to share their writing, for lovers of poetry to share their enthusiasm, and for those who might think that poetry isn’t their thing to discover that they DO like poetry after all!

As the final word on 2021 we would like to thank again everyone involved in getting the festival off the ground and all those who contributed their time and skills to creating the various events and workshops. A huge thank you too to all who attended those events, whether online or in the real world: we couldn’t have done it without you!

The gallery below features some highlights from this year. We were mostly too busy reading or listening to get our cameras out, so forgive us if your favourite event isn’t featured. Better yet, if you took pictures or video why not send them in and we’ll add them to the website…

That Went Well…

Charlie Bell: “Selfie”

The final event in our 2021 festival took place on Friday evening with festival committee chairman, Charlie Bell, hosting his “Lockdown Selfie” before a sell-out audience. As well as showcasing Charlie’s poetry and his personal reflections on the world events that have thrown all our lives into turmoil over the past eighteen months, the evening included music from The Gastric Band and further readings from guest poet Natalie Thomas. Raising over £500 in ticket sales and donations for McMillan Nurses, “Lockdown Selfie” proved a fitting end to our festival fortnight, which achieved everything we had hoped for and more.

Our goal when organising the festival was to provide a series of events that would offer “poetry for all, big or small”. This goal was certainly accomplished, most notably within our Wordplay Fun Day takeover of the Tunbridge Wells Forum, which catered for children of pre-school and school age at all skill levels with a series of writing workshops and art activities in the garden area. Adults were equally well catered for inside the building, with open mics and panel discussions, and an evening staged event celebrating humorous verse in popular culture throughout the ages. We were also delighted to offer a platform to Arts Without Boundaries, who shared their community poem, “Food”, to a highly entertained and appreciative audience.

It would be foolish to attempt to do justice to all of the events within the festival fortnight in this summary: our headline act, Luke Wright, the workshops and reading events, the open mics… If you found us too late for 2021 take a look at what you missed HERE, and make sure to book your seats early next year, when, Covid and other disasters – natural and unnatural – willing, we’ll be offering an even bigger and better bill of fare.

Finally, thank you to all who contributed to the festival fortnight, and to those who bought tickets, reserved places, or just dropped in on any of the events that took place. See you next year!

A Week On…


A day late, in fact, with a progress report as it’s now Tuesday of week two, but we needed to catch up on our sleep after Sunday’s Fun Day and Pam Slam. An exhausting but exhilarating close to a week of events that leaves us glowing with pride and admiration for all who have contributed.

We will be curating photographs and other memories of the festival to offer a retrospective in the fullness of time, but for now let’s just concentrate on week two and the events still to come.

Tonight, of course, we have the first of our final two staged events, with Steve Walter’s and Roger West’s Remember the Earth… This promises to be something very special, blending poetry and mixed media in real time in one of the loveliest venues our town has to offer. Amazingly there are still a (very) few tickets left available, so if you haven’t yet got yours now is the time to hit the link above.

Our fortnight concludes on Friday with festival chair Charlie Bell’s Selfie: The Lockdown Edition, and if you’ve left it this late for tickets you’ve left it too late, which is why we haven’t included a link! Those of us who have got tickets will bring you all up to speed…

Between Remember the Earth and Selfie there remain several reading and workshop events too, some of which still have a handful of tickets available. Grab them while you still can.

A Cracking Start…

As the heading suggests the festival is now well underway and the first two events have been wonderful successes. Thank you to all who logged in for Arrival at Elsewhere and to those who joined us at Grub & Liquor for our Voices Special Poets in the Pub. Heavens we had fun!

Still plenty to come in this first week, though, with a wide selection of workshops and readings and two major staged events before the weekend is out, the first being our headline performer, Luke Wright, at Saloman’s tomorrow (Thursday 19th) evening and the second our combined Wordplay Fun Day and Pam Slam takeover of Tunbridge Wells Forum on Sunday 22nd.

While the clock is very much ticking there may still be just enough time to sign up for today’s (Wed 18th) Ashdown Forest workshop, readings and open mic Poetry Bathing.

As advised, we have MUCH more to come during the festival this week so please do check our full listing for details.

And then there’s next week, of course, with an equally impressive line up of online and real world workshops, readings and open mic opportunities, as well as two more staged events (more about those in our next blog) to enrich your evenings.

The Clock is Ticking…

Yes, we’re really shifting up a gear as we finalise the event listings for what is now a very packed festival.

In addition to the staged events detailed in the image above you’ll also find a host of workshops and reading events, meetups, panel discussions and open mics featuring poets local and international. With a good mix of virtual and real world interaction there are opportunities for all to get involved, despite the complications of Covid-19.

Tickets are now available for almost all events (check individual events for links) and the few events that remain to be finalised will be added shortly, so remember to check back regularly. We’ll also be adding a full, chronological listings page for quick reference, downloadable to the device of your choice, so you need never miss a thing!

Under Starter’s Orders…

And we are very happy to confirm our first official events of the 2021 Tunbridge Wells Poetry Festival as we take over the Tunbridge Wells Forum for the afternoon and evening of August 22nd.

While full details of what will be on offer are still being confirmed we can safely say that the planned programme will be very special indeed, kicking off from 2:00pm with a free entry Wordplay Fun Day that will appeal to all ages. With a range of activities encompassing poetry workshops through to live performance, readings, open mics and panel discussions there will be opportunities for all to get involved and create something unique, or to relax and be entertained by others flexing their creative muscles.

The Wordplay Fun Day will wind down in time for tea with the venue briefly closing while we catch our breath before throwing wide the doors again at 7:00 for our evening event, The Pam Slam Grand Slam. The Pam Slam, rescheduled from last year, is a ticketed event celebrating all aspects of humorous verse from its earliest days as performance art in the amphitheatres of ancient Greece through to the present. This journey will include familiar favourites from the comic verse canon, together with songs and sketches inspired by them. With the emphasis firmly on words and wordplay, the Pam Slam Open Mic section of the evening will offer local poets the opportunity to put on their Ayres and graces with their own Pam-style verses.

More news and events coming soon, with something VERY special only a couple of dotted I’s away from confirmation, so watch this space!

Hello Again

Welcome back from all at the Tunbridge Wells Poetry Festival. After Covid-19 put paid to our 2020 event we are keen to get up and running again this year. While the ongoing situation demands that we proceed with caution, we are pleased to advise that plans are taking shape for two major events in late August, to be augmented with workshops and similar community projects once dates and venues have been finalised.

More news coming soon, but in the meantime we would like to whet your appetite with an online version of Kent & Sussex Poetry Society’s 2020 Folio, showcasing the poetry of local writers, several of whom are involved in organising the Festival itself.

The Best Laid Plans…

Ah, we had so many good things lined up for you this summer, but sadly coronavirus and lockdown had different plans and it’s time now to reluctantly put this year’s festival to bed.

Fear not, though, we will be back next year (unless something equally unexpected and wide-reaching scuppers our plans again!) and if the interest generated by this year’s non-event is anything to go by it can only mean bigger and better things to come.

At this stage, of course, we are in the same boat as everyone else and have not a clue what the next few months will hold, but if opportunities do present themselves between now and 2021 for group events to go ahead we’ll certainly do our best to take advantage of them. For now, though, it only remains to say farewell and to hope that 2021 will be kinder to us.


And welcome to this the first message from The Tunbridge Wells Poetry Festival, 2020. As I write it is early March, and plans for the festival are starting to solidify. You can find details of the individual events elsewhere on this website, along with a brief account of how the festival came about, but this “Latest News” area will become increasingly relevant as we approach the official starting line in June.

Here, at the outset, we would like to thank Kent & Sussex Poetry Society for taking up the baton and helping sponsor the event, particularly those members of the society who are directly involved with the admin and promotion of the festival. We would also thank those who will be contributing to and/or hosting the many happenings listed: a considerable mix of talent offering workshops, musical and spoken-word events, art collaborations, and open mics at various venues around our lovely town. There will also be a number of off-piste “pop-ups” yet to be fully imagined, but let’s not ruin the surprise with speculation!

Looking briefly backwards, thanks should also go to those who helped organise the first festival in 2018 for offering such solid foundations on which to build. The gallery below offers a small selection of pictures from some of the venues and events that took place then…