Welshpool Poetry Festival/Gwyl Farddoniaeth Y Trallwng is in its third year. The festival brings some of the very best in contemporary poetry to Mid Wales through the generous support of Arts Council Wales and the Mary Hignett Bequest Fund (Rotary Club of Oswestry). The festival is about breaking down barriers to poetry, championing new, emerging and established poets here and beyond our borders.


Deborah Alma

Deborah Alma has an MA in Creative Writing, is Emergency Poet in her vintage ambulance and is editor of Emergency Poet-an anti-stress poetry anthology and The Everyday Poet – Poems to live by (both published by Michael O’Mara). Her True Tales of the Countryside is published by The Emma Press. She lives with her partner the poet James Sheard on a hillside in Montgomery.

James Sheard

James Sheard was born in Cyprus in 1962, and spent his childhood abroad, mainly in Singapore and Germany. His debut collection, Scattering Eva, was shortlisted for the 2005 Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Glen Dimplex Award for Poetry. Dammtor published in 2010 and was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and The Abandoned Settlements is his recently published third collection. He lives in Mid-Wales and lectures at Keele University.

Sophie McKeand

Sophie McKeand is an award-winning poet and the current Young People’s Laureate for Wales. Her poetry has been published widely including Poetry Wales, Tears in the Fence and The Lonely Crowd. She has published two pamphlets Prophecy: conversations with my Self and Hanes and an album DRKMTR, and her first full-length collection, Rebel Sun, is out with Parthian books in spring 2017. Next year she is selling-up to live in a van with her partner and two dogs to travel Europe.

Luke Kennard

Luke Kennard won an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 2005 and his first collection of prose poems The Solex Brothers was published later that year. His second collection The Harbour Beyond the Movie was published in 2007 and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection, making him the youngest writer ever to be shortlisted. His fourth book of poems, A Lost Expression was released in 2012 alongside a science-fiction novella, Holophin which won the Saboteur Novella award. He has a PhD in English from the University of Exeter and lectures at the University of Birmingham. His fifth collection of poems, Cain, was published in 2016 and selected as a book of the year by The Guardian and The Sunday Times. His first novel, The Transition, was published in January 2017.

Helen Mort

Helen Mort was born in Sheffield. Her first collection ‘Division Street’ was shortlisted for the Costa Prize & the T.S. Eliot Prize. In 2014, she won the Fenton Aldeburgh Prize. Her new collection ‘No Map Could Show Them’ (Chatto & Windus) is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Her first novel ‘Black Car Burning’ is due from Chatto in 2018. She writes a blog called Freewill.’ Helen is also a runner and climber and the author of ‘Lake District Trail Running’.


Friday 9 June

Education Outreach Day with Sophie McKeand at Ysgol Maesydre with their year 6 students.
Evening performance 7.30pm at Welshpool Library – James Sheard, Deborah Alma, Sophie McKeand. Tickets £7.50 to include free drink.

Sat 10 June

Workshop from 10am – 12noon with Helen Mort in the interesting surroundings of the Old Court Room, Welshpool Town Hall. Tickets £5.
Emergency Poet free consultations with Deborah Alma in her ambulance from 12 noon – 4pm in the car park at the Church House.
Masterclass from 1–3pm with James Sheard in the Church House. Tickets £5.
Open Mic with host Pat Edwards from 4–6pm in the Church House. Free event.
Evening performance 7.30pm at the Church House – Luke Kennard and Helen Mort. Tickets £7.50 to include a free drink.

Adults’ poetry competition

The adults’ poetry competition is on the theme of borderlands... real and imaginary... and will be judged by the poet James Sheard.

The results of the competition and the judges’ comments can be downloaded here.

Kids’ poetry competition

To help us celebrate this year’s Welshpool Poetry Festival we’re having a poetry competition to tie in with the Viking exhibition at Powysland Museum in May and June. Apparently the Battle of Buttington near Welshpool was fought in 893, between a Viking army and an alliance of Anglo-Saxons and Welsh!

Cartoon: Paul Kielty kieltyascharged@gmail.com

The competition has now closed.