Exeter Poetry Festival 2016 Programme


This year we are going back to our roots, offering the best the West Country poetry scene has to offer, while inviting to Exeter some special guests from further afield.

Monday 3rd October

Hannah Silva with Tim King and Mantie Lister

Venue: The Bikeshed Theatre, 162-163 Fore Street, Exeter EX4 3AT

Start: 7.30pm

Admission: £6 (£5 concessions) from the Bike Shed Theatre Box Office or on the door


Image courtesy Hannah Silva

The 2016 festival begins with a bang with the return to Exeter of Hannah Silva, poet, playwright and performer known for her innovative explorations of form, voice and language in performance. Her debut poetry collection Forms of Protest (Penned in the Margins, 2013) has been widely praised and was Highly Commended in the Forward Prizes. She won the Tinniswood Award for Best Radio Drama Script with her verse play Marathon Tales (co-written with Colin Teevan for BBC Radio 3) and has been shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry for Total Man.

Hannah will be appearing with two luminaries of the Exeter performance poetry scene, Tim King and Mantie Lister. Tim, slam and festival performer, co-hosts the popular monthly Taking the Mic event in Exeter Phoenix; Mantie has a growing performance reputation and is a former Bard of Exeter.

Tuesday 4th October

The Broadsheet

Venue: The Queen’s Cafe, The Queen’s Building, Exeter University, EX4 4QH

Start: 7.00pm

Admission: £3 on the door.

Image courtesy Simon Williams

The latest issue of The Broadsheet, edited by Simon Williams and Susan Taylor, is launched with a flourish and readings by many of those whose poems have been selected for this annual publication, traditionally a Festival highlight.

Wednesday 5th October

The Mind of the Artist: Eliza Kentridge  and Mark Solms

Venue: The Devon and Exeter Institution7 Cathedral Close, Exeter, Devon EX1 1EZ

Start: 7.15pm

Admission: £8 (£6 concessions) from Exeter Phoenix Box Office or on the door

Freud famously declared that artists retain their infantile fantasies to an unusual degree. In effect, he argued that they are more narcissistic and less reconciled to reality than non-artists. Does this theory hold water? Psychoanalyst Mark Solms will address the question in dialogue with poet and artist Eliza Kentridge , using her as a sort of ‘case example’.


Image courtesy Mark Solms

Mark Solms is Director of Neuropsychology at the University of Cape Town. He is a member of the British, American and South African Psychoanalytical Associations, and has won many awards, including the Sigourney Prize. He has published over 300 articles and six books. He is editor and translator of the forthcoming Revised Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (24 vols) and the Complete Neuroscientific Works of Sigmund Freud (4 vols).


Image courtesy Eliza Kentridge

Eliza Kentridge was born in Johannesburg in 1962. She moved to England in the late 1980s and has lived in Essex for the past 25 years. She is an artist who works in many media, though she is primarily known for her stitched drawings and applique flags. Her literary leanings, evident since childhood, now result in her first book of poetry: Signs For An Exhibition.

Thursday 6th October: National Poetry Day

NPD 2016 Messages.jpg

Inside the tent.

Venue: Poetry Tent outside Exeter Cathedral Refectory, 1 The Cloisters, Exeter, EX1 1HS

Start: 2pm to 5.30pm

Admission: free


Image: Wonge Bergman

Do you have a poem inside you that you want to get out?  Come to the Poetry Tent on Cathedral Green and we’ll help you get it written on a poster for our competition. All ages.

Indigo Dreams tour

Venue: City Gate Hotel, Cellar Bar, Lower North Street, Exeter EX4 3RB

Start: 7.30pm

Admission: £3 on the door


Image: Indigo Dreams

National Poetry Day is celebrated by a reading from 5 poets, all published by the innovative independent poetry publisher Indigo Dreams.

Poets are: Ben Banyard, Mab Jones, Bethany W. Pope, Helen Boyles and Simon Williams.

Friday 7th October

Annie Freud and Penelope Shuttle

Venue: Ballroom, Exeter Community Centre, St. David’s Hill, EX4 3RG

Start: 7.15pm

Admission: £8 (£6 concessions) from Exeter Phoenix Box Office or on the door

Our Friday night reading traditionally features South-West poets with national and international profiles, and this year we’re proud to welcome Penelope Shuttle and Annie Freud.


Image courtesy Annie Freud

Annie Freud’s first collection of poetry The Best Man That Ever Was (Picador 2007) marked the start of a third career, following one as an embroiderer and another in local government. Her third collection, The Remains (Picador 2016) is concerned with what is left when everything is broken or lost. She was one of the Poetry Book Society’s Next Generation Poets in 2014.


Image courtesy Penelope Shuttle

Penelope Shuttle is a former winner of a Cholmondeley Award and a Forward Poetry Prize; her most recent publications are: Redgrove’s Wife (Bloodaxe Books, 2006); Sandgrain and Hourglass (Bloodaxe Book, 2010); Unsent (Bloodaxe Books, 2012); and Four Portions of Everything on the Menu for M’sieur Monet! (Indigo Dream, 2016).

2015 RDLF logo

Sponsored by the Ronald Duncan Literary Foundation 

Saturday 8th October

Archetypes: poetry workshop with Julia Copus

Exeter Community Centre, St. David’s Hill, EX4 3RG

Start: 2.15pm

Admission: Workshop places £25 (limited to 12 participants), tickets from Exeter Phoenix Box Office

Factions and sectors of humanity have always fascinated poets, and many of the poems written about them are among the most memorable we have. Philip Larkin takes a moving but uncompromising look at old age in The Old Fools, P.K.Page brilliantly captures the unpredictable, rambunctious nature of Young Girls, and American poet laureate Ted Kooser somehow convinces us that Surveyors have travelled to our roadsides straight from the middle ages. How do such poems manage to be both general and specific? And how can we make use of this knowledge to enrich our own writing?

Join poet Julia Copus in this stimulating three-hour workshop to find out. Julia will also take you on a whistle-stop tour of the line-break and demonstrate how lines can be manipulated to create a range of effects. You will come away with the makings of your own poem, and there will also be time to hear, share and discuss what you produce, should you wish to do so.


Image courtesy Julia Copus

Julia Copus was born in London and now lives in Somerset. She has published three collections of poetry: The Shuttered Eye (Bloodaxe, 1995), In Defence of Adultery (Bloodaxe, 2003) and The World’s Two Smallest Humans (Faber and Faber, 2012). All three collections are Poetry Book Society Recommendations. She has won First Prize in the National Poetry Competition and the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem (2010). In 2012, she was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for Ghost Lines, a cycle of radio poems following the journey of a couple undergoing IVF treatment. Her latest poetry collection was published in 2012 by Faber and shortlisted for the T.S.Eliot and the Costa Poetry awards. In 2008, she was made an Honorary Fellow at the University of Exeter. Julia is also an experienced judge and is currently on the judging panel for the T.S.Eliot Poetry Award and Encore Award for best second novel of the year. This year also sees the publication of her third picture book for children, The Shrew that Flew (Faber, 2016).

Devon poets on paper

Venue: City Gate Hotel, Cellar Bar, Lower North Street, Exeter, EX4 3RB

Start: 7.15pm

Admission: £3 on the door.

Another Festival tradition – a celebration of 4 Devon poets who have had collections published in the past year.

helen evans

Image: Helen Evans

Featuring Ian Beech, Helen Evans, Susan Taylor and Simon Williams.


Image: Ian Beech 

Sunday October 9th

Mincing to Denmark.

Venue: Studio 36, Denmark Road, Exeter, EX1 1SE

Start: 2.15pm.

Admission: £3 on the door. (All admission monies go to support the gallery)


Photo courtesy Studio 36

A selection of the Mincinglake Poets, a loose affiliation of non-millionaires and accredited wordsmiths, will present some of their latest work in the unique setting of Studio 36.

Curated by Liz Adams with Ann Gray, Chrissy Banks, David Woolley, Mark Totterdell, Alasdair Paterson and Damian Furniss.

Exeter Poetry Slam 2016

Venue: The Bikeshed Theatre, 162-163 Fore Street, Exeter EX4 3AT

Start: 7.30pm

Admission: £6 (£5 concessions) from the Bike Shed Theatre Box Office or on the door

Slam 2

Image courtesy Tim King

The Festival concludes with the annual Exeter Poetry Slam, hosted by Morwenna Griffiths and Tim King. Twelve of the finest poetic performers from the South West will go head to head in a gladiatorial contest reminiscent of the heyday of the Roman arena, slammers compete for the coveted title of Poetry Slam champion, under the eyes of the  Caeser-like judges. To apply to take part, email: slam@speakinsong.co.uk

Partners 2016


2015 B logo

ExCite Poetry

2015 EP logo

Exeter Phoenix

2015 EPh logo

Ronald Duncan Literary Foundation

2015 RDLF logo

The Bikeshed Theatre

2015 TBST logo

University of Exeter

2015 UOE logo

City Gate Hotel


Indigo Dreams


Exeter Cathedral


Devon and Exeter Institution


Exeter Community Centre


Studio 36



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