From Alexis Taylor to Jackie Kay to Michael Palin: Ledbury Poetry Festival 2018 announces full programme


LEDBURY POETRY FESTIVAL 2018 (29 June – 8 July)Logo 2018 dates

Alexis Taylor, Benjamin Zephaniah, Michael Palin,
Sabrina Mahfouz, 
Chris Difford and Jackie Kay
join international cast of poets and musicians
for the UK’s biggest and award-winning poetry festival

One of the most exciting and important literary festivals in England’
Carol Ann Duffy
‘A glorious 10 day early-summer immersion in poetry of all sorts, with a good international line-up of names to savour and discover’ Financial Times
Winner: Best Community Festival in Visit Herefordshire Awards
Download the full programme online at 
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Ledbury Poetry Festival 2018: l-r Sabrina Mahfouz, Alexis Taylor, Benjamin Zephaniah, Michael Palin, Jackie Kay, Chris Difford, Church Street in Ledbury

Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip), poet Benjamin Zephaniah, comedian, broadcaster and writer Michael Palin, poet and playwright Sabrina Mahfouz, Scottish Makar Jackie KayChris Dif­­­­­ford(Squeeze), US poet Jericho Brown and comedian Miles Jupp are among the new poets, musicians and poetry lovers from around the world announced for Ledbury Poetry Festival 2018 (29 June – 8 July), as the full programme is released today Thursday 10 May.  Tickets go on sale to the general public on Saturday 19 May 2018.

Over 10 days this summer, with 80 events and over 150 performers, the UK’s biggest and much-loved poetry festival will fill the streets and intimate venues of the historic market town of Ledbury, near the Malvern Hills. Following record breaking audiences last year of  over 15,000 people, the festival returns with an extra feather in its cap, having won Best Community Festival at the prestigious Visit Herefordshire Awards 2017.

The inspiring relationship between poetry and lyrics is a theme of this year’s festival, which will bring Hot Chip lead singer Alexis Taylor and Scottish folk musician James Yorkston together in conversation and performance; Saint Etienne’s Bob Stanley talks to poet John Clegg about song writing and pop lyrics; founding member of Squeeze Chris Difford offers a poetic take on life in and out of the band with poet Jill Abram and the frontman of indie-folk band Stornoway, Brian Briggs performs his new collaborative work with poet Paul HenryThe Glass Aisle.

The UK’s thriving poetry and spoken word scene will be celebrated wholeheartedly at this year’s Ledbury Poetry Festival with performances from poets including T.S. Eliot Award winner Hollie McNishSabrina Mahfouz and Joelle TaylorBenjamin Zephaniah draws on his new autobiography to share shares stories and poems from his remarkable life including his friendship with Nelson Mandela. Jackie Kay joins 2018 Ledbury Poetry Festival poet in residence Zaffar Kunial and US poet Major Jackson to read and discuss a new anthology of poems she has co-edited, celebrating the life and activism of Martin Luther King. Much-loved poet Wendy Copereads from her new collection Anecdotal Evidence and Patrick Gale and Jackie Kay showcase a new Refugee Tales anthology, retelling stories of asylum seekers who have suffered at the hands of Britain’s policy of ‘indefinite detention’.

In a series of events with poetry lovers, Ledbury Poetry Festival 2018 features Michael Palinreading the poetry of passionate and political poet Adrian Mitchell alongside Sasha Mitchell, comedian Miles Juppon his ‘Desert Island Poems’, actor Michael Pennington performing the poems of William Blake and renowned academic Sarah Churchill discussing the celebrity and personal life of Sylvia Plath.

Ledbury has always been staunchly internationalist and 2018 is no exception, as this year  features a strong billing of US poetry stars including Major Jackson, Jericho Brown, Linda Gregerson, Marie Howeand Mark Doty who appears as part of a day- long immersion in the poetry of Wallace Stevens. Columbian poet George Mario Angel Quintero and translator and editor Richard Gwynn take a whirlwind tour of South American poetry. Unshaken by Brexit, Versopolis the innovative platform for emerging European poets returns backed by funding from the EU Creative Europe Programme for four more years. Four European poets,  Kateryna Kalytko(Ukraine),Tomica Bajsić (Croatia), Michał Sobol (Poland) and Lou Raoul (France) perform in their native languages alongside three UK poets Sandeep ParmarSasha Dugdale and Welsh language poet Mererid Hopwood for the festival’s grande finale.

Poetry leaps off the page through a range of experimental, ritualistic and outdoor events. In Cynhebrwng Aer / Air Burial audiences led by Nia Davies and Rhys Trimble are invited to ‘air bury’ any potentially problematic or volatile bodies of poetic work. In Rituals with Poetry Wales, Nisha Ramayya invokes a tantric poetics, Elizabeth-Jane Burnett takes a transformative wild swim and Rhys Trimble makes a multilingual dismemberment of the text. Kyra Pollitt and Sue MacLaine take part in a British Sign Language Translation Duel, translating signed poetry onto the page. Elsewhere poetic delights fill the Walled Garden and a Poetry Paradise Garden reflects the community’s extensive outreach programme which includes a partnership with charity Herefordshire MIND mental health charity. On the last day of the festival the Ledbury Celebration takes over the high street offering a day of poetry, music, entertainment and the best local food and drink.

A series of intensive workshops offer aspiring and burgeoning poets practical advice on writing and editing poetry lead by poets ranging from the festival’s poet in residence Zaffar Kunial, poet and translator Noèlia Díaz-Vicedo, Sinéad Morrissey, Linda Gregerson, Jo Bell and Jane Commane. Sandeep Parmar, Telegraph poetry critic Tristram Fane Saunders, and Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critics Dzifa Benson and Sarala Estruch discuss the role of the poetry critic in relation to issues of diversity.

Chloe Garner, Ledbury Poetry Festival’s Artistic Director says ‘Ledbury Poetry Festival aims to explore, unpick and illuminate the best contemporary poetry written in the world today, as well as taking a fresh look at poets of the past, through a huge array of events including readings, discussions, performances and workshops. Come and join the fun, we are looking forward to welcoming you!’

Tickets for Ledbury Poetry Festival 2018 go on general sale on Saturday 19 May 2018 from and the Box Office on 01531 636232. 

All artists are available for interview. For media enquiries about Ledbury Poetry Festival please contactBecky Fincham at Bigmouth Book Events & PR on / 07545 760590 or via the contact page

Follow us on Twitter Facebook & Instagram @ledburyfest #LPF2018

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