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What's On

With the world turned upside down over the past year Winchester Poetry Festival is doing things a little differently in 2021. This year’s festival is stretched over five months with a hybrid of online and real world events accessible to everyone. The festival as a whole will be our biggest event so far featuring an array of wonderful readers and speakers, a wide range of workshops – and our Poet on the High Street community residency.


The 2021 Festival will take us on a journey of poetry with an innovative 'summer series' of monthly online events (June-September), followed by its culmination with, we hope, a live, face-to-face, Festival Weekend in October (8-10) featuring leading contemporary poets, a number of showcase readings, conversations, workshops, and community activities.

Click on the boxes below to see the programme month by month.



June Theme: Sonnets


The Poetry Salon will be held live online via Zoom.


Free but donations welcome

Poetry Salon

Poetry Reading Group 

with Kathryn Bevis
Friday 11 June
7.00 - 8.30pm


Join us for an exciting, new, online poetry gathering on the second Friday of each month where we’ll read and discuss some of the most brilliant voices in contemporary poetry, including poems written by Winchester Poetry Festival’s featured poets for 2021.

Each month will be themed and we’ll get to know a handful of brilliant poems related to that theme, making time to see how they might reflect, amplify, complicate, contradict, or bewilder each other when read together. These will be animated, inspiring evenings for us all to learn more from each other about the peculiar pleasures of reading poems. Readings will be shared in advance and all are welcome (either for one session or the whole series): poetry newbies, poetry fanatics, and poetry experts alike.


The Workshop will be held live online via Zoom.


£10.00 (places limited)

A Whole New Constellation

Writing for Wellbeing Workshop with
Jon Sayers

Saturday 12 June
10:30am - 12:30pm


In this friendly and supportive writing workshop, we will be looking at poems by some of the poets who will be reading in this year’s Winchester Poetry Festival, and using their words as springboards for our own expressive and exploratory writing.

During the workshop, we will try out a number of different journaling techniques and will be writing in prose unless, as sometimes happens, a poem happens to fall from the end of the pen. No previous writing experience is necessary.

Please bring a pen and paper, an open mind and be ready to take part in a shared journey of discovery.


This event is pre-recorded and will be broadcast


Toxic Sonnets

Joyelle McSweeney with Sasha Dugdale

Saturday 12 June
3:00pm - 4:00pm

In this Keats bicentenary year American poet Joyelle McSweeney discusses the influence of Keats on her own remarkable poetry and reads from her most recent book Toxicon and Arachne (published in the UK in 2021 by Corsair Books).


McSweeney, whose work was called  'a biohazard, teeming with linguistic contagion’ (New Yorker), discusses reading (and writing) Keats in a pandemic year with poet and Festival Director, Sasha Dugdale. 

jacqui and Sophie.jpg

This event is pre-recorded and will be broadcast. Advance booking is advised.


Lockdown Sonnets

Lipstick Intellectuals

Saturday 12 June
6:30pm - 7:30pm

Poet Jacqueline Saphra and artist and poet Sophie Herxheimer come together to chat about poetry as resistance, feminism (and lipstick!),  motherhood, creativity and the London they share as the children of a secular Jewish Bohemian scene. With readings from Saphra’s candid and revealing One Hundred Lockdown Sonnets (Nine Arches) and some online demonstrations of Sophie’s fabulous art, as well as her own poetry, this will be a nourishing and sustaining evening’s entertainment. 


Introduced by  Jane Commane of Nine Arches Press.

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