As usual, this year’s Festival Programme contains some of the biggest names in UK poetry. It was such a wonderful experience to be writing letters of invitation to well-known poets like Ian McMillan, Kathleen Jamie and Hollie McNish and have them say 'yes!' to performing in Winchester. But whilst it’s exciting to have the chance to experience readings by these great talents, for me, the real moments of excitement at any festival are always the result of discovering something completely new. Taking a chance on an event where by a new voice (and then telling everyone I know about this great new poet they just have to read…) is one of my favourite things to do, and we’re hoping that you’ll come away from this year’s festival with lots of new passions! Here are just a few of the poets whose names might be new to you, that I we hope you’ll be talking about long after the festival.
It seems ridiculous to describe Doireann Ní Ghríofa as a ‘new voice’ in poetry. She’s been awarded nearly every poetry prize going in her native Ireland, including the Rooney Prize for Literature and the Michael Hartnett Poetry Prize. I first met Doireann as part of a small poetry tour in Ireland, and I was utterly captivated by her incredibly crafted and lyrical writing. Take a look at her beautiful control and use of sound in this closing stanza to her poem ‘Brightening’ taken from her first English-language book Clasp.