Category Archives: Festival News

Fringe Sunday Part 2: Exeter Poetry Slam, 6th October 7.30pm, The Bike Shed Theatre

Exeter Poetry Festival Slam 2013 hosted by Morwenna Griffiths and Tim King

Exeter Poetry Festival Slam 2013 hosted by Morwenna Griffiths and Tim King

Sunday 6th October 2013

EXETER POETRY SLAM 2013 hosted by Morwenna Griffiths and Tim King
The Bikeshed Theatre, 7.30pm – £5
Tickets from The Bikeshed box office or phone 01392 434169
To take part email

12 of the finest poetic performers in the south-west will go head-to-head in the fourth instalment of this annual competition hosted by Morwenna Griffiths and Tim King un the convivial surroundings of Exeter’s The Bikeshed Theatre

The Bike Shed Theatre bar - quiet before the storm

The Bike Shed Theatre bar – quiet before the storm

Taking the Mic co-presenters Morwenna Griffiths and Tim King proudly host the fourth Exeter Poetry Slam!

12 of the finest poetic performers in the South West will go head to head in the 4th instalment of this annual competition. Previous winners include Ian Royce Chamberlain, Robert Garnham and Daniel Haynes, so expect the very highest standard of competition.

The Slam will be held over three rounds, comprising three heats, a semi-final and final. The winner of each heat and the two highest scoring runners-up will qualify for the semi-final. The two highest scoring poets in the semi-final will compete head-to-head in the final.

To apply to take part, please email:

Slam! poets will also be asked to supply a biographical note of no more than 40 words (strict maximum)  by Monday 30th September 2013, to be read by the referees to introduce each contestant to the audience.

12 contestants, 3 rounds, 1 winner, much kudos.

Prizes and judges to be confirmed.

Tickets £5.  Free with a Membership.

Exeter Poetry Festival 30th September to 6th October 2013 Programme

Exeter Poetry Festival 2013

ExCite and its partners are delighted to announce the Exeter Poetry Festival 2013 programme.

The festival programme was launched on September 5th 2013 at the Exeter Phoenix when a packed house enjoyed readings by Carol Ann Duffy and Ann Gray.

The festival will take place from Monday 30th September 2013 to Sunday 6th September 2013 at venues around Exeter.

We’ll be featuring the poets performing at the festival over the next few weeks in the build-up to festival week.


Monday 30th September 2013

THE BROADSHEET with the Bard of Exeter Simon Williams City Gate Hotel, Cellar Bar, 7.30pm – £2, free to readers

Thursday 3rd October 2013

NATIONAL POETRY DAY with Sean O’Brien and Jo Shapcott Exeter Barnfield Theatre, 7.30pm – £12.50 Book at the Barnfield box office online or phone 01392 271808

Friday 4th October 2013

BEYOND BORDERS with Roddy Lumsden, Peter Finch and Hannah Silva Exeter University Queen’s Building – Lecture Theatre 7.30pm – £9 Book at the Exeter Phoenix box office online or phone 01392 667080

preceded by

EXETER UNIVERSITY MA SHOWCASE with Barbara Farley, Isabel Galleymore, Louise Jenkins, and Naomi Williamson Exeter University Queen’s Building – Senior Common Room 6.30pm – Free Event

Saturday 5th October 2013

FESTIVAL WORKSHOP with Greta Stoddart Exeter (Temporary) Library, 2pm-5pm – £12 To book contact

EXLIBRIS launches ‘Making History’ Royal Albert Memorial Museum, 5.45pm By invitation only – if interested email

TRIPLE BILL with Lemn Sissay, Dizraeli and Benin City Royal Albert Memorial Museum, 7pm – £12 / £9 (concessions) Book direct from the museum or via

Sunday 6th October 2013

STUDIO 36 with Marcus Wylie (workshop), Rachel McCarthy and Alasdair Paterson Gallery 36, Denmark Road, Exeter – £5 (workshop), £5 (reading), £8 (all day) Pay on the door, in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support

EXETER POETRY SLAM 2013 hosted by Morwenna Griffiths and Tim King The Bikeshed Theatre, 7.30pm – £5 Tickets from The Bikeshed box office or phone 01392 434169 To take part email

Exeter Poerty Festival 2013 back

Carol Ann Duffy in Exeter, Devon at the Exeter Phoenix on 5th September 2013 at 18:45


proudly presents


Reading in Exeter, Devon for the first time since her appointment as Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy is joined by fellow poet Ann Gray on Thursday 5th September 2013 at 6.45pm at Exeter Phoenix .


Exeter Phoenix, Bradninch Place, Gandy Street, Exeter, EX4 3LS.

Tickets: £12/£10 students including booking fee. Telephone: 01392 667080.


The event will launch the Exeter Poetry Festival 2013 and is promoted by Excite, the Poetry Society Stanza for Exeter and Devon.

RAMM Pamphlet Competition 2013



ExCite Poetry, the Poetry Society Stanza for Exeter and Devon, will launch a poetry publishing arm on the 5th October, during the Exeter Poetry Festival 2013 (3rd – 6th October 2013).

ExCite Poetry will publish single-author poetry pamphlets and anthologies with a focus on supporting emerging and established poets in Devon. Pamphlets will be in both print form and, uniquely, electronic form with voice recording, for sale via Apple iBooks.

The inaugural pamphlet will be an anthology response to items in the collection of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter. Contributions will be from local school children, renowned poets in Devon and via open submission to find the best emerging talent.

Terms and conditions for open submission are below.

The deadline for entries is August 24th.

An invitation only launch event will be held in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum on the evening of the 5th of October 2013, at 6pm, with readings from contributing poets. Press queries should be directed to or via  phone on 07854 598552.

Terms and conditions for open submission to RAMM pamphlet project

• Poems must respond to an item(s) in the collection(s) housed in galleries 2 (‘Down to Earth’) and 3-4 (‘Making History’) in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in central Exeter.

• Any style of poem is allowed but it must not exceed 25 lines including the title and spaces between stanzas.

• Poems must be typed, single-spaced, on A4 size paper

• Poems will be selected anonymously; your name, or any other mark of identification, must not appear anywhere on the poem.

• Provide a separate cover sheet with your name, postal address, phone number, email address, title of your submission(s) and the item(s) in the museum’s collection to which your poem responds.

• You can enter up to 3 poems. There is no charge for entry.

• No alterations may be made once a poem has been submitted.

• The successful entrants will be contacted by post during the first week of Sept 2013

• Selected poems will be published as part of a limited edition pamphlet launched on the 5th October 2013, at 6pm, at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, as part of Exeter Poetry Festival 2013. In submitting a poem(s) you guarantee that you will be available to read on the 5th October at RAMM and will have previously made yourself available for an audio recording of your poem during September 2013.

• The copyright of the poem, both text and recording, remains with the author, but ExCite reserves the right to publish or broadcast the work in its entirety or in part in the UK during 2013-14for PR purposes.

• The judges’ decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into.


• Entrants must have a Devon postcode.

• Entrants do not need to be a member of ExCite Poetry in order to submit a poem, but agree to having their details stored by ExCite Poetry for future reference.

• Poems should be in English or English dialect, and the original work of the author.

• The poems may not have been previously published or broadcast.

How to Enter:

• Deadline for entries is August 24th 2013. Entries are by post only. The address for entries is: Exeter Poetry Festival, FAO Rachel McCarthy, Flat 2, 50 St David’s Hill, EX4 4DT. Your work will not be returned, so please keep a copy. If you wish acknowledgement of receipt, include an SAE.

• Entry indicates acceptance of these rules. Entries failing to meet all these conditions will be automatically rejected.

Graham Burchell at Exeter Poetry Festival 2012

It is my pleasure to be able to formally confirm that Exeter Poetry Festival will be taking place this year from 4th-6th October at a variety of venues across the city. This year, Cyprus Well is working in partnership with ExCite Poetry Stanza and Apples and Snakes to produce the third annual festival. This year’s primary funder is Arts Council England, with additional support from the Ronald Duncan Literary Foundation. Exeter University’s Andy Brown is also due a mention, both in his capacity as organiser for the PhD poets event, and as a poet in his own right. More detail on the full programme will be provided imminently.

In the meantime, I wanted to announce that we’ll be hosting a special book launch for South West Poet, Graham Burchell. His collection The Chongololo Club is of particular interest to us, given the fact that Graham was awarded a TLC Free Read from Cyprus Well, and we are proud to say we played a small part in helping him develop as a writer. The hard work was down to him though, and we’re delighted to see the fruits of his labours in this exciting new collection.

The Chongololo Club is a compelling recreation of the poet’s time in Zambia in the early 1980’s; a series of vivid snapshots that captures the people, the wildlife, the politics with colours ‘brash enough’ for this ‘dark continent’ as we slide down it alongside him – ‘glass in hand, whisky gone, just a melting ice-cube cold’ against our teeth.

‘These poems have the virtues of close observation and personal engagement in their accounts of living and teaching in Africa. Flora, fauna, people, loneliness, culture-shock, compassion and humour all contribute to making this collection haunting and coherent. The poet sustains triumphantly the demands of his particular subject material.’

–       Penelope Shuttle

‘Graham Burchell’s ‘The Chongololo Club’ is a wonderful book. Full of the sights and sounds of Africa he clearly loved, he is not blind to its occasional horror; nevertheless he convinces us of its beauties through his careful observation, his ear for its many languages and his eye for telling detail. His style of writing serves his subject matter, but he is not afraid of demanding forms such as the pantoum. If you want your poetry to be pleasurable, you will enjoy this book.’

–       Ian Duhig

Join us for South West launch of Graham’s book on Saturday 6th October in Exeter Central Library at 2pm.

Poetry in the City at Exeter Central Library on March 23

Poetry in the City is the first in an occasional series of poetry readings from Exeter Library Live and Exeter Poetry Festival.

Damian Furniss first full collection Chocolate Che was highly commended in the Forward Prize. His pamphlet The Duchess of Kalighat won the Tears in the Fence competition. He is currently co-editing The Captain’s Tower: Seventy Poets Celebrate Bob Dylan at Seventy, singled out by The Guardian as a book to watch out for in 2011. Using forms as varied as their subjects – travelling among revolutionaries in Latin America, taking on the voices of the great artists of the twentieth century, working with dying destitutes in India – his poetry works
images into narratives that are both darkly humorous and strangely moving.

David Woolley has been writing poetry since the age of eight, but he’s still not sure what he is doing or why. His favourite poets are usually Keats, Dylan Thomas and Roy Fisher. He has published one pamphlet and three collections, mostly from Headland Press, the latest being Pursued by a Bear. He mistrusts the terms ‘performance poetry’ ‘spoken word’ ‘page poet’ etc – “it is either well-crafted or it isn’t, and you either enjoy hearing/seeing it read aloud or you don’t. I hope you do…”

Jos Smith grew up in Canterbury and has lived in Liverpool, Nottingham and Exeter. He has had an enduring interest in poetic geographies and the writing of place. In 2005 he ran an outdoor poetry and visual art project, No Man’s Orchard, funded by the Arts Council. More recently he has had poems published in Poetry Wales and Brittle Star and is currently writing a PhD on the ‘New Nature Writing’ movement in British and Irish literature.

The event takes place at Exeter Central Library on Wednesday 23 March, at 7pm. Tickets are £4 and are available from the lending library or on the door on the night. Tickets can be reserved by calling 01392 384201

This weekend at the Festival

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After two brilliant opening days, in the company of Alice Oswald, Andy Brown, Jen Hadfield, Ronald Tamplin and the Fire River Poets, the Festival weekend is here already!

Jen Hadfield’s ‘Credo’ workshop is sold out, so is ‘Up With The Bard’ with Liv Torc. There are still some tickets left for the other events, and in the library today we’re looking forward today to the University of Exeter Creative Writing Programme Reading (featuring top festival volunteer, Jos Smith), Greta Stoddart and newly Forward Prized, Julia Copus. Later, in the Phoenix, Cyprus Well, ExCite Poetry and Apples & Snakes have the Meter 2010 Networking Event (only a few places left for that one) with a performance by Dorothea Smartt. Saturday finishes off with Apples & Snakes Live, with Bard of Exeter Liv Torc, and Aoife Mannix with accordion hero Janie Armour.

Sunday kicks off in the library with the ExCite Poetry Lunch with Rachel McCarthy, Fiona Benson and Rachael Boast. This is followed by the Shearsman Showcase with Elisabeth Bletsoe, Damian Furniss and Jaime Robles. The festival closes with Ruth Padel at 4pm, reading and in conversation with Rachel McCarthy of ExCite Poetry.

But not quite … supported by Exeter Phoenix, the Festival finally heads off into the night with the utterly brilliant Devon Incarnate Folk Singer and Folk Hero, Jim Causley.

Full details in the programme, and tickets are available from Exeter Phoenix.

A huge thank you to our audiences this week, and we look forward to seeing you this weekend!

Festival Star wins Forward Prize!

Exeter Poetry Festival star Julia Copus has won the Forward Poetry Prize for Best Single Poem for her poem, ‘An Easy Passage’.

You can read Julia’s winning poem in The Guardian here.

Visit The Forward Prize Page here.

Congratulations too to SW poet Hilary Menos, winning Best First Collection for Berg, and Seamus Heaney for Best Collection, Human Chain.

Exeter Poetry Festival Begins! Happy National Poetry Day!

It’s National Poetry Day, and it’s the first day of Exeter Poetry Festival! There are some tickets left for tonight’s opening event with Alice Oswald and Andy Brown, but not many, so pick up your tickets quickly from the Phoenix today if you’re planning to go! Look out for a host of amazing poets over the weekend, including Julia Copus, Greta Stoddart, Ruth Padel, Aoife Mannix, Damian Furniss, Fiona Benson, and many more! The full programme is available here.

Hope to see you at the Festival!


Exeter Poetry Festival was delighted to get the chance to catch up earlier this week with festival star Jen Hadfield.

Jen Hadfield lives in Shetland, whose landscape and language persistently influence her poetry and visual art. Her work often pivots on the idea of the secular-sacred, relating to landscape – “It is in heaven as it is on earth” “it is on earth as it is in heaven.” Liturgical rhythms underpin many of her poems about place, home, ecology, space – an idiomatic mythology of the here-and-now.

Of her two books published by Bloodaxe, Almanacs was written in Shetland and the Western Isles in 2002 thanks to a bursary from the Scottish Arts Council, and it won an Eric Gregory Award in 2003. Nigh-No-Place, written in Canada and Shetland, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize in 2007 and won the T.S.Eliot Prize for poetry in 2008. She is currently working on her first novel. A CD collection of Jen reading her work is available from The Poetry Archive.

Sir Andrew Motion, one of the judges when Jen Hadfield won the TS Eliot said of her, “she is a remarkably original poet near the beginning of what is obviously going to be a distinguished career.”

Winning the TS ELiot Prize is a real achievement – has it altered how you approach your poetry in any way?

Not really. It’s something I try and forget about and this is quite easy, because the award came some time after writing Nigh-No-Place. It was confusing, if anything: I’m a very present tense sort of writer and maker; and when a work’s completed I feel quite rapidly distanced from it. Poetry is something that is ultimately the present tense I think: when I’m writing, I’m a poet, when I’m not, I’m not sure what I am! Every time I start to write something it’s like I’ve never written before, it’s like learning from scratch every time. It’s just distracting and bewildering to try and compare or connect the new work to the old whilst you’re making it. Or maybe it’s new lamps for old. At any rate you don’t lose what you learn in the writing.

I like Don Paterson’s take on all this: “All praise or damning only serves to interpolate the author – again – between the work and its source, and can only interfere with the abstract and inscrutable mechanism by which that work is delivered. Those who find praise an aid to their production will produce nothing of value; the source is impure, already turbid with self-hood. Burn your reviews, and warn your friends to give you no word of them.”*

The T.S.Eliot has changed my life of course, it has simply, practically enabled me to approach my writing full stop after a long, long lay-off. For which I am very, very grateful.

You’re writing a novel at the moment – do you find similarities between the way you work on that, and the way you approach your poetry, or is it very different?

As I say, it’s like learning to write for the first time. Almost like learning to speak actually. The novel is 60,000 words in and yet hardly past the holophrastic stage, and yet less efficient than holophrasis in children! I mean that the voice is muddy and unfixed still. This has been going on for some time…

The difficulty of it worries me quite a lot, but I remind myself that writing Nigh-No-Place also took me through effortful, impossible, tongue-tied phases, and that eventually I surfaced into something like fluency. Writing is both very hard and ridiculously easy I think. In both poetry and the novel, there doesn’t seem to be any shortcuts: you have to raise the masonry brick by unresounding brick in order to work out what a springing arch might be like, you can’t bypass that.

In both the goal is leaving yourself behind.

In general I think I do have similar experiences whether I’m writing poetry, writing prose, making porcelain limpets, teaching, reading, walking. The acts blur into each other when I’m working well, a sign usually, that I’ve begun to leave myself behind, although sometimes I play them off each other to trick myself into working…

What poets out there at the moment are you reading and enjoying?

Sharon Olds as ever. I can’t do without her. Charles Simic. After Ovid – a collection of contemporary poets who have rewritten episodes from the Metamorphoses.

Your workshop at the festival is called ‘Credo’, do you have your own poetic credo?

A constantly evolving thing. It’s a mixture of messages to myself to remind me what I do and don’t need to write; what it feels like being fluent; what I call poetry and what I don’t. Fluency is a bit of a theme! I think credos are maybe most useful when we’re not writing. It’s almost as if you don’t need them so much when you’re fluent. The whole thing is so intriguing to me, because the act of fluent writing seems to bring about such changes of perception (it’s definitely that way around) – from closed to open, from fearful to hopeful, from tongue-tied to fluent. Time changes. Everything becomes relevant to everything else. I like very much an idea that was put forward by Ray Tallis (I think) in Grayson Perry’s Creativity and the Imagination – that ‘creative people’ (let’s say ‘people in a creative state’) may not so much be using this part of their brain over that, but that they may be experiencing slower transmission of impulses between parts of the their brain. This really makes sense of the peculiar sensation of seeing things more thingily when you’re writing or making fluently; maybe we’re just getting a better look at the thoughts droning by …

But the credo question isn’t just about that change of state, of course It’s questions about voice and identity. Questions about who the art is for…about the specific natural laws that are unique to each poem. Like ‘what does the white space of the page mean?’ The credo question invites the poet to articulate their own assumptions about the poem, to justify what they call poetry.

Jen is reading at Exeter Poetry Festival, with Ronald Tamplin, at The Charles Causley Reading, Exeter Central Library, Friday 8th October at 7pm. Tickets are available from Exeter Phoenix, £6/£5 concessions. There are limited spaces for her workshop on Saturday 9th – tickets also from Exeter Phoenix.

*from ‘Aphorisms’
Don Paterson, in Strong Words, ed. W.N.Herbert & Matthew Hollis, Bloodaxe, 2000