Welcome to Welshpool Poetry Festival/Gwyl Farddoniaeth Y Trallwng. Once again, we bring to Mid Wales some of the very best that contemporary poetry has to offer. What an absolute joy to be at the helm and to be able to curate events that I just know you are going to love. This year we are hugely grateful for the support of the Mary Hignett Bequest Fund and Rotary Club of Oswestry for significant funding. With the help of our many supporters, we have been able to keep prices affordable, respond to your feedback asking for activities to extend to the Sunday, and to still provide a free open mic and schools outreach. If last year is anything to go by, tickets will sell out quickly, especially where there is a fixed limit on numbers. My advice, if you see it and you fancy it, book straight away to avoid disappointment! Warmest wishes to my team and to you for helping make this one of the best and most relaxed little festivals around. Croeso i pawb.
Pat Edwards, Curator


Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards’s first collection, My Family and Other Superheroes (Seren, 2014) received the Costa Poetry Award and the Wales Book of the Year People’s Choice Award. It was shortlisted for the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. His second collection, Gen, was published by Seren in 2018. He lives in Crosskeys, South Wales, and works as a teacher.

Caroline Bird

Caroline Bird is a poet and playwright. She has five collections of poetry published by Carcanet. Her most recent collection, In These Days of Prohibition, was shortlisted for the 2017 TS Eliot Prize and the Ted Hughes Award. A two time winner of the Foyle Young Poet’s Award, her first collection Looking Through Letterboxes was published in 2002 when she was 15. She won a major Eric Gregory Award in 2002 and was shortlisted for the Geoffrey Dreamer Prize in 2001 and the Dylan Thomas Prize in 2008 and 2010. She was one of the five official poets at the 2012 London Olympics.

Liz Berry

Liz Berry was born in the Black Country and now lives in Birmingham. Her first book of poems, Black Country (Chatto, 2018), described as a ‘sooty, soaring hymn to her native West Midlands’ (Guardian) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, received a Somerset Maugham Award and won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Award and Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2014. Her pamphlet The Republic of Motherhood (Chatto, 2018) was a Poetry Society Pamphlet choice and the title poem won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem 2018.

Deborah Alma

Deborah Alma has an MA in Creative Writing and is the Emergency Poet prescribing poetry from her vintage ambulance. She is soon to open the first walk-in Poetry Pharmacy, dispensing poetry from her home in Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire, where there will be workshops and retreats, a café and on-line shop. Deborah is editor of Emergency Poet – an anti-stress poetry anthology and The Everyday Poet – poems to live by (both Michael O’Mara). She has a pamphlet True Tales of the Countryside with Emma Press and her first collection Dirty Laundry (Nine Arches) was published in 2018. Deborah is the editor of #Me Too – rallying against sexual harassment – a women’s poetry anthology (Fair Acre Press) which won a Saboteur Award. Deborah lectures at Keele University.

Richard O’Brien

Richard O’Brien’s publications include The Emmores (The Emma Press, 2014) and A Bloody Mess (Valley Press, 2015), and work in a range of magazines and anthologies. Richard won an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 2017, and currently works as a Teaching Fellow in Shakespeare and Creativity at the University of Birmingham. He has been a commissioning editor at the Emma Press, and is the Birmingham Poet Laureate 2018–2020

Gaia Harper

Gaia Harper is a Shrewsbury-based young poet whose work centres on sexuality, pop culture and youth. She is a three time winner of the Foyle Young Poet of the Year Award and has been published in several anthologies. She is currently working on her first pamphlet.

Programme of Events

Please go to the Eventbrite booking link for all ticket sales and adult competition entries. The Children’s Competition and Open Mic are FREE.

Friday 7 June

Education Outreach Day at local school with Bethany Rivers This is a pre-arranged event coordinated with the school so is not available for booking.
Bethany Rivers is a poet and teacher who facilitates inspirational writing workshops. Her pamphlet, Off the Wall, was published by Indigo Dreams and her collection, the sea refuses no river, is due out in June with Fly on the Wall Press. Bethany’s book, Fountain of Creativity: ways to nourish your writing, is due out in the spring with Victorina Press.
Poetry Workshop with Richard O’Brien 4–6pm at The Court House, Town Hall. £12.
Poetry Reading with Richard O’Brien & Gaia Harper 7–9pm The Court House, Town Hall £7.50 (inc free drink)
Both these poets are former Foyle Young Poets, an accolade which acknowledges huge potential and is a recognised mark of quality. We are delighted to bring these two fine young poets together and commend the work that the Foyle Young Poets movement does to support excellence.

Saturday 8 June

Saturday Surgery with Jonathan Edwards 10:30–12:30pm The Royal Oak Hotel, £10.
A rare opportunity to both offer and receive analysis and feedback for ten poems brought by 10 participants, chaired and facilitated by Jonathan Edwards. Each poet will be invited to read their poem with no explanation or introduction and to receive constructive feedback, before being invited to join in the discussion about their work. With places limited to 10, each poet will get a full ten minutes spent on their work and will benefit from the rich range of knowledge and experience of fellow poets, as well as the expertise of Jonathan Edwards.
Emergency Poet 12–4pm Deborah Alma will be administering poetry prescriptions from her vintage ambulance on the lawn at Church Hounse. Free.
Poetry Workshop with Caroline Bird 1.30–3:30pm The Church House. £12.
Open Mic 4.30–6:30pm Church House. Free.
Sign up on the day for a chance to read your own work to a friendly but discerning audience. Bring your own refreshments and enjoy this informal gathering of poetry lovers.
Poetry Reading with Caroline Bird and Liz Berry 7:30–9:30pm Church House. £7.50 inc free drink.
A chance to hear two astonishing and very different poets read from their collections in intimate surroundings. Don’t miss this!

Sunday 9 June

Poetry Workshop with Liz Berry 10am –12noon Church House. £12.
Sunday Panel with Caroline Bird 12.30–1:30pm The Church House. £5.
This is something new for the festival, a question and answer session hosted by Pat Edwards. The audience can get to know our guest poet a little better and have an insight into her life and work and the writing process. What better way to close the weekend before you journey home full of inspiration.

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Open poetry competition

This year’s winning poems are:

  1. Makeover by Tina Cole
  2. Hen Coop by Helen Kay
  3. Calling by Kathryn Bevis

The following poets were commended by our judge Liz Berry: Jeff Phelps, Annette Isles, Jane Burn, Estelle Price, Paul Waring, Steve Harrison and Kate Wise

Young People’s Poetry Competition (Ages 7–14)

This year’s winning poems are:

  1. Water by Junayd Asghar
  2. Guinea Pigs by Jonty Eyre
  3. Let the Sun Shine Down by Jade or Julie (sorry?) Dillon

Theo Savoury had two poems commended – As Night Turns and Dales Grows. Many thanks to our judge Deborah Alma. All poems were judged anonymously. Very well done!