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Board and Patrons



Celia Imrie   Edna Longley   Michael Longley   Christopher Reid



Susmita Bhattacharya is an Indian-born British writer and lecturer at Winchester University. Her debut novel, The Normal State of Mind (Parthian) was longlisted for the Word to Screen Prize at the Mumbai Film Festival, 2018 and Table Manners (Dahlia Books) won the 2019 Saboteur Award for Best Short Story Collection and was adapted for BBC Radio 4. She leads the ArtfulScribe Mayflower Young Writers programme in Southampton and has worked on several Arts Council England funded projects in Hampshire. She also mentors new writers and has judged several writing competitions.


Jane Bryant, chair,  recently stepped down as Chief Executive of Artswork, a national youth arts charity, after 10 years in post. With a profound commitment to the importance of equality of access to arts and culture, Jane’s previous roles include Project Director - Find your Talent (Urban South Hampshire), Chief Executive of Coda Music Trust, and Head of Development with Arts Council England SE. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a resident of Winchester, Jane is now working freelance.  She is also an active practising musician and in her spare time conducts two choirs in Hampshire. She is currently undertaking an MA (part-time) at University College London.

Aisling O'Toole, is a recent graduate from the University of Durham who is currently working at Penguin Random House as an Editorial Assistant across non-fiction titles, and has previously volunteered at Hexham Book Festival. Aisling loves the connection that literature fosters, and the voices to which it offers a platform. Aisling's favourite poets include Carol Ann Duffy, Emily Dickinson and Daljit Nagra due to their respective strong senses of identity conveyed in their poetry. She is passionate about making poetry more accessible to children in particular, and would love to pursue this interest within the parameters of Winchester Poetry Festival.

Jeremy Wikeley grew up in Romsey, a few miles down the road from the Festival, and now lives in London, where he works in the arts. He was the winner of The Hampshire Prize in 2022.

Jo Fisher is a full-time copywriter and editor at the University of Southampton, with a freelance portfolio including The Big Issue, Go! Southampton, and Southampton City Council. In her free time, she explores her creativity through poetry, writing, and art, actively engaging in local culture and seeking opportunities to celebrate and promote organisations and events in Southampton, Winchester, and beyond. Jo represented Hammer & Tongue Solent at the Hammer & Tongue National Slam Finals in 2019, performing at the Royal Albert Hall. You can read more about Jo in this interview with Hartley News Online

Abanti Chakrabarty Mukhopadhyay is an academician and professional. She holds a Master's degree in Comparative Literature and is penchant for intricately exploring global literary works. Her academic journey has been enriched by the study of various literary traditions, and she adeptly compares and contrasts world literature. Her commitment to linguistic proficiency underscores her unwavering dedication to the literary arts.  Abanti dedicated herself to mastering the Spanish language to fully appreciate the unparalleled prose of Gabriel García Márquez in its original form.  Abanti's versatility extends beyond her scholarly pursuits. As a classical dancer, she seamlessly intertwines the realms of dance and literature, showcasing her creative ingenuity and interdisciplinary approach to the arts. This unique blend of skills speaks volumes about her adaptability and versatility, qualities that are highly valued in academic and professional settings. With over a decade of experience as a radio producer, Abanti has cultivated a worldwide audience for her radio show, captivating listeners with her insightful commentary and engaging storytelling. In her professional capacity, Abanti channels her passion for education, working diligently in the realm of children's education. 


Rupert Nabarro OBE, is an economist specialising in urban research, analysis and development. In 1985 he founded the Investment Property Databank which in 2005 and in 2010 was awarded the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and a Life Fellow of the Society of Property Researchers. He has been Chairman of Whitchurch Silk Mill Trust and is also a long-term trustee of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Common Ground.


Dr Jillian Saucier has enjoyed participating in the Winchester Poetry Festival--as a poet, volunteer and trustee--since her immigration to the United Kingdom. She is pleased to contribute her professional experience in higher education administration, legal services and philanthropy to the Winchester Poetry Festival community. She has published poems in print and online anthologies and magazines.

Bear Shaw  Beyond the soldier, the art historian, the librarian and MBA driven day job, Bear is a poet who  encourages everyone to find the poetic in the everyday, especially beyond the printed word.

Jon Whitfield QC is a barrister with 30 years experience of criminal, regulatory and mental health law. As such he has a great deal of experience of public speaking and performance. Jon is a trustee of three pension funds and a charity aimed at improving mental health for patients in Ghana.  Jon has read and written poetry for much of his life experimenting with poetry performance including with improvised guitar and other musical accompaniment.

Associates and advisers

Artistic Director - Clare Pollard has published five collections of poetry with Bloodaxe, most recently Incarnation, and a pamphlet The Lives of the Female Poets, published by Bad Betty Press. Her play The Weather (Faber, 2004) premiered at the Royal Court Theatre. She has been involved in numerous translation projects, including co-translating The Sea-Migrations by Asha Lul Mohamud Yusuf (Bloodaxe, 2017) which received a PEN Translates award. Clare has also translated Ovid’s Heroines (Bloodaxe, 2013), which she toured as a one-woman show with Jaybird Live Literature, and Trust by Anna T. Szabo (Arc, 2021). She was until recently editor of Modern Poetry in Translation and is poetry editor for The Idler. Her latest book is a non-fiction title, Fierce Bad Rabbits: The Tales Behind Children's Picture Books (Penguin) and her novel Delphi is forthcoming in Summer 2022 (Fig Tree, UK / Avid Reader, US). 

Treasurer - Sue Spiers is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants with an MBA and BA in Literature from the Open University. She served as OU Poets' treasurer 2010-2017 and as editor of British Mensa's Poetry SIG from 2016. As an accountant Sue has worked for Marconi, Smiths Aerospace, and Pharmaceutical Product Development. As a poet her work has appeared in various print and online magazines, and in several anthologies. Her role with Winchester Poetry Festival is as treasurer.

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