If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you will, by now, know that the website for Kendal Poetry Festival has finally gone live! You can find us at www.kendalpoetryfestival.co.uk. The festival will take place from the 24th-26th June 2016, at Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Kendal.
The full programme is now up. Over the weekend we have two open mics, four main readings, three discussions about poetry and two workshops. There are a few free events as well, all taking place in the beautiful surroundings of Abbot Hall Art Gallery.
Please head over to the website and have a look at the programme – we have some fantastic poets reading at the festival. This has been the culmination of about a years worth of planning between myself and Pauline Yarwood, the co-director of the festival.
We found out in January that we’d got funding to go ahead with the festival, so it has been pretty hectic trying to pull the website and marketing together since then, so the website finally being live and kicking is a massive milestone for us.
We’ve got our wonderful poets for the programme, we’ve got a beautiful venue. We’ve got a limited number of weekend passes at only £33 which will get you in to all the readings and discussions at the festival. All we need now is an audience to make the festival a success. We haven’t got a huge marketing budget, just enough to build a website and print our brochures. We’ve got our Twitter account (@KendalPoetry) and the Facebook group but what we are really relying on is word of mouth, and the support of the poetry community.
The cuts to the Wordsworth Trust Contemporary Literature Programme hit writers in Cumbria hard. This will be the first summer that we don’t all head up to Grasmere on a Tuesday evening to hear poets read. The loss of the programme has left a huge hole, and in all honesty, a weekend festival can’t fill that summer long gap.
However, on a personal level, the loss of the readings at the trust galvanised me into action, to stop talking about running a festival, and actually go and do it. It was a happy coincidence that I bumped into Pauline Yarwood and we got talking at Brewery Poets one week and I discoverd that Pauline had already been making enquiries about running a poetry festival in Kendal. I hope we can go back to the Arts Council next year and show them something astounding – audience figures much larger than what we predicted, and a festival that needs to become a yearly fixture in the calendar.
Kendal has been devastated by the floods recently. In January, we didn’t have a venue, as much of the gallery was under water. Coming to Kendal Poetry Festival will not only support poetry and writers in a rural county, which can feel quite isolated at times, it will also support the local community of businesses and cafes who have been flooded sometimes two or three times in as many months.
Finally, I hope you consider coming to the festival because there is something on the programme that inspires you, something that makes you want to travel from where ever you live to sit in a room and listen to poetry.