2021 FESTIVAL POETS
Patience Agbabi is a sought-after poet, novelist, performer and mentor who has spent over 20 years celebrating the written and spoken word. She read English at Oxford and has an MA in Creative Writing from Sussex. A former Poet Laureate of Canterbury, and cited as one of the Next Generation Poets, she has more recently turned her hand to writing novels for middle graders, the first of which is The Infinite (Canongate, 2020).
Her writing has appeared on radio and TV and she has toured around the world to festivals and events, both independently, and with the British Council.
Patience appeared to much acclaim at the inaugural Winchester Poetry Festival in 2014 performing her retelling of Canterbury Tales, Telling Tales.
Romalyn Ante is a Filipino-British, Wolverhampton-based author. She is co-founding editor of harana poetry and a poetry editor at Ambit magazine. Her debut poetry collection is Antiemetic for Homesickness (Chatto & Windus).
Romalyn is a Poetry Ambassadors 2021 mentor. Her honours include the Poetry London Prize, Manchester Poetry Prize, Oxford Brookes EAL Poetry Prize, Society of Author's Foundation Award, Creative Future Literary Award, amongst others. She has been Poet in Residence at Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust. Her work has been featured in BBC World News, BBC Radio 4, Harper's Bazaar, Vogue UK, and the Southbank Centre. She has also run a number of poetry workshops including those for The Poetry School, Royal College of Nursing, and Writing West Midlands.
Raymond Antrobus was born in London to an English mother and Jamaican father, he is the author of Shapes & Disfigurements, To Sweeten Bitter and The Perseverance. In 2019 he became the first ever poet to be awarded the Rathbone Folio Prize for best work of literature in any genre. Other accolades include the Ted Hughes award, PBS Winter Choice, Sunday Times Young Writer of the year award & The Guardian Poetry Book Of The Year 2018, as well as a shortlist for the Griffin Prize and Forward Prize. In 2018 he was awarded The Geoffrey Dearmer Prize for his poem 'Sound Machine'.
His poetry has appeared on BBC 2, BBC Radio 4, The Big Issue, The Jamaica Gleaner, The Guardian and at TedxEastEnd.
Isabelle Baafi is a writer and poet from London. Her debut pamphlet, Ripe (ignitionpress, 2020), was the Poetry Book Society’s Pamphlet Choice for Spring 2021. She was the winner of the 2019 Vincent Cooper Literary Prize, and was shortlisted for the 2021 Brunel International African Poetry Prize, the 2020 Bridport Prize for Poetry, and the 2019 Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition. Her poems have been published in The Poetry Review, Magma, Anthropocene, and elsewhere. She is a Ledbury Poetry Critic, an Obsidian Foundation Fellow, and a Board Member at Magma. She is currently writing her debut poetry collection.
Liz Berry's first book of poems, Black Country (Chatto 2014), 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. Liz's pamphlet The Republic of Motherhood (Chatto, 2018) was a Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice and the title poem won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem 2018. The Dereliction, a chapbook of her collaboration with photographer Tom Hicks, will be published by Hercules Editions this September.
Kathryn Bevis is Hampshire Poet 2020-21 and founder of The Writing School Online. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Poetry Ireland Review, Under the Radar, The Interpreter’s House, and iamb, and have won several competitions, including the Poets & Players Competition 2019 and the Against the Grain Competition 2019. This year, her poems have been commended in the Hippocrates Prize for Medicine and Poetry, longlisted for the National Poetry Competition, broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and her pamphlet manuscript Taking Up Room was a finalist in the Mslexia Pamphlet Competition. Kathryn designs and delivers Poetry for Wellbeing courses for adults in mental health settings, substance-misuse recovery settings, and prisons and she is the editor of two anthologies of poetry by new and emerging poets. She is working towards her first collection.
Leo Boix is a bilingual Latinx poet born in Argentina who lives and works in the UK. Boix has been included in many anthologies, such as Ten: Poets of the New Generation (Bloodaxe), The Best New British and Irish Poets Anthology 2019-2020 (BlackSpring Press), Islands Are But Mountains: Contemporary Poetry from Great Britain (Platypus Press) and Un Nuevo Sol: British Latinx Writers (flipped eye). His poems have appeared in POETRY, PN Review, The Poetry Review, Modern Poetry in Translation, The Manchester Review, The White Review, Ambit, The Morning Star, The Rialto, Magma Poetry, Letras Libres, Prism International and elsewhere. Boix is a fellow of The Complete Works program and co-director of Invisible Presence, an Arts Council national scheme to nurture new voices of Latinx writers in the UK, and an advisory board member of the Poetry Translation Centre. He wrote poems commissioned by Royal Kew Gardens, the National Poetry Library, Bradford Literary Festival and La Linea Festival, among others. Boix was the recipient of the Bart Wolffe Poetry Prize Award 2018 and the Keats-Shelley Prize 2019. His debut English collection ‘Ballad of a Happy Immigrant’ (Chatto & Windus, 2021) was awarded the PBS Wild Card Choice.
Ben Bransfield was born in Shropshire and now lives in London. He read English at Brasenose College, Oxford, received an MA from the Shakespeare Institute, and graduated from the National Film and Television School. He is a Poetry Society Teacher Trailblazer and one of the Poetry School’s Primers: Volume Two poets (Nine Arches Press). Ben serves on the board of the Stephen Spender Trust and has spent over a decade teaching English in schools. His pamphlet Judder Men was published by Smith/Doorstop in 2021.
Poet and academic Aviva Dautch is the resident expert on BBC Radio 4’s ‘On Form’, a series exploring the recent resurgence in formal poetry. She is a mentor for Winchester Poetry Festival and Southampton University’s Poetry Ambassadors scheme, and for Exiled Writers Ink. Her translation of The Eighth Crossing, a book-length poem about his refugee journey from Afghanistan to the UK by Suhrab Sirat, was published in 2021.
Jonathan Davidson is a poet, writer and literature activist. He lives in the English Midlands but works internationally. His poetry has been widely published and he has also written memoir and criticism. His radio dramas and adaptations have been broadcast by BBC Radios 3 and 4. His most recent collection is A Commonplace (Smith|Doorstop, 2020) and was included in The Morning Star's best poetry books of 2020 and has been widely reviewed, including in Under the Radar, TLS and Racine. His previous book, On Poetry (Smith|Doorstop, 2018), a combination of memoir and manual, was included in The Guardian's Top 10 Books About Creative Writing 2020. His blogposts about poetry and the poetry sector at www.jonathandavidson.net have raised eyebrows. He is a Fellow of The English Association.
Sasha Dugdale has published five collections of poems with Carcanet, most recently Deformations in 2020 which was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize. She won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in 2016 and in 2017 she was awarded a Cholmondeley Prize for Poetry. She is former editor of Modern Poetry in Translation and poet-in-residence at St John’s College, Cambridge (2018-2021). She has translated both the poetry and prose of Maria Stepanova and her translation of In Memory of Memory (Fitzcarraldo Editions) by Stepanova was long listed for the International Booker in 2021.
Greg Gilbert is a poet, artist and musician from Southampton. His pamphlet, Love Makes a Mess of Dying was one of Carol Ann Duffy's 'Laureate's Choice' publications.
As an artist, his work has been displayed at the Royal Academy and the Royal College of Art, winning Best in the South of England at the National Open Art Competition.
He is the lead singer of the band Delays who have released 4 albums and toured internationally. In late 2016 Gilbert was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer, an event that profoundly impacted his writing.
Rebecca Goss is a poet, tutor and mentor living in Suffolk. Her first full-length collection, The Anatomy of Structures, was published by Flambard Press in 2010. Her second collection, Her Birth, (Carcanet/Northern House, 2013) was shortlisted for the 2013 Forward Prize for Best Collection, won the Poetry category in the East Anglian Book Awards 2013, and in 2015 was shortlisted for the Warwick Prize for Writing and the Portico Prize for Literature. Rebecca’s third full-length collection, Girl, was published with Carcanet/Northern House in 2019 and shortlisted for the East Anglian Book Awards 2019. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Cardiff University and a PhD by Publication from the University of East Anglia.
Jen Hadfield's fourth poetry collection The Stone Age explores neurodiversity and was published by Picador in March 2021. She is also working on Storm Pegs, a collection of essays about Shetland, where she lives. Passionately involved with the wild world, she uses poetry, lyrical essay and occasionally sculpture in cast porcelain, to try and share her intense experience of the here-and-now. Her work has garnered numerous awards, including the 2008 T.S.Eliot Prize for her second collection, Nigh-No-Place, (Bloodaxe). She has performed her work internationally, attending festivals and residencies in – amongst other countries - Iraq, New Zealand and Canada. She is a Creative Writing Teaching Fellow at Glasgow University and is building a house in Shetland, very slowly.
Nicki Heinen studied English at Cambridge University, where she won the Barbara Wrigley Prize for Poetry. She completed an MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths College in 2012. Her work has been published in a variety of print and on-line magazines and anthologies, including Magma, and Bloodaxe’s Staying Human anthology. She was shortlisted for the Pat Kavanagh Prize and was commended in the Winchester Poetry Prize 2018 and 2020. She founded and hosts Words & Jazz, a spoken word and music night, at the Vortex Jazz Café, London, and the Words & Art online series. Her pamphlet Itch (Eyewear Press, 2017) and was a London Review Bookshop book of the year. There May Not Be A Reason Why, her debut collection, is out with Verve Press in September 2021. She identifies as disabled, living with bipolar disorder. She lives in London
Sophie Herxheimer is an artist and poet. She’s held many residencies including for The National Maritime Museum, The Museum of Liverpool and Transport for London. Her work has been shown at her local allotments, Tate Modern and on a giant mural along the sea-front at Margate. She made a 300 metre tablecloth for the Thames Festival, a life size concrete poem in the shape of Mrs Beeton to stand next to her grave, and a pie on the lawn of an old people’s home big enough for seven drama students to jump out of, singing. Her collection Velkom to Inklandt (Short Books, 2017) was an Observer Book of the Month. Her book 60 Lovers to Make and Do, (Henningham Family Press, 2019) was a TLS Book of the Year. In 2019 she was a Hawthornden fellow. She has an ongoing project in which she listens and draws live in ink in collaboration with members of the public. Her new collection is INDEX, a box of 78 collage poems, published as a pack of prophetic cards by experimental press, zimZalla.
Sarah Hymas writes in many forms, in print on the page and as artistbooks, as immersive walks, multimedia exhibits, lyrics, installations, short films, and on stage. Her most recent publications are melt (Waterloo press 2020) and the hispering (BlackSunflowers Poetry, 2021). She's been hosting A Writer's Imaginarium for five years, creating, for writers of all genres, spaces of imaginative exploration and collective inspiration, where projects can roam safely, expansively with delight and curiosity. You can find her on Twitter @sarahhymas
Andrew McMillan’s first collection, physical, was the only poetry collection to ever win The Guardian First Book Award. It also won a Somerset Maugham Award, an Eric Gregory Award, a Northern Writers’ Award and the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. It was shortlisted for numerous others including, the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Costa Poetry Award, the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. His second collection, playtime, won the inaugural Polari Prize. His most recent collection pandemonium was published in May this year.
Andrew is a senior lecturer in the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Joyelle McSweeney is the author of ten books of poetry, prose, plays, and essays, most recently the double poetry collection Toxicon and Arachne (Corsair Books, 2021) and The Necropastoral, a book of goth ecocriticism. She edits the international press Action Books and lives in the U.S. Rust Belt.
Paul Muldoon was born in County Armagh in 1951. He now lives in New York. A former radio and television producer for the BBC in Belfast, he has taught at Princeton University for more than thirty years. He is the author of thirteen collections of poetry including Moy Sand and Gravel, for which he won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize, and Frolic and Detour, published in 2019.
Jason Allen Paisant
Jason Allen-Paisant is a Jamaican poet whose first collection, Thinking with Trees, will be published by Carcanet Press in 2021. His work has also appeared in Granta, The Poetry Review, PN Review, Callaloo, Stand, New Poetries VIII, and other venues. He works as a Lecturer in the School of English and the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies at the University of Leeds, where he's also the Director of the Institute for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies. He lives in Leeds with his partner Lucile and daughters Joyce and Imani.
Caleb Parkin is the third Bristol City Poet. He won second prize in the National Poetry Competition 2016, the Winchester Poetry Prize 2017 and other major competition shortlists.
His educational work is extensive, tutoring for Poetry Society, Poetry School, Cheltenham Festivals, Arvon and First Story. He holds an MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes (CWTP), with a research dissertation focused on museum and gallery settings. He previously worked in BBC TV and Radio production and as a teacher and Senior Inclusion Worker.
His debut collection exploring queer ecopoetry was developed with Arts Council England Developing Your Creative Practice support. His debut pamphlet, Wasted Rainbow, is published with tall-lighthouse in February 2021 and his debut collection, This Fruiting Body, with Nine Arches in October.