2014 festival highlights
Michael Longley, one of the major poets at Winchester’s first poetry festival in 2014, told an appreciative packed audience “This is not just a good festival, it’s a great festival and this city should be very proud to have it.”
The programme delivered fully on its intentions of bringing some of the country’s most powerful and influential voices to Winchester, offering a variety of writers to engage with different audiences, fostering writers with local or regional connections, and creating a poetic space for reflection amid the First World War commemorations. Readings, talks, workshops, exhibitions and a tour also took place.
The thirty poets and twenty six events attracted a total audience of 1450 people at the Discovery Centre and other venues including Winchester College, the United Church and the Theatre Royal, and there were also festival poetry readings in Bishops Waltham, Alresford, Romsey, Denmead and St Lawrence’s Church, attracting a further 200 people. Other festival events included poetry workshops (including at the Nightshelter), Hampshire Poets Now (curated by Joan McGavin Hampshire Poet 2014), an exhibition of sculpture in Winchester Cathedral, poetry posters and other displays in the Discovery Centre, a second-hand poetry bookshop, and the Poetry Postie 'pedalling her wares' around the city centre.
The festival organisers were particularly pleased not only with the enthusiastic reception given to all poets taking part, including Patience Agbabi, Christopher Reid, David Constantine and Jackie Kay, but also with the quality of the new young voices – hugely promising poets like Rosemary Brook-Hart and Dom Cramp from Peter Symonds College, the latter the stunning winner of the festival’s pop-up poetry competition organised by Magma magazine.
The festival was funded by Arts Council England, The Foyle Foundation, Garrick Charitable Trust, Hampshire County Council, Tramman Trust, Winchester BID and Winchester City Council and local sponsors.