Festivals Friday, June 22nd

Squeeze, Hot Chip and 12 other awesome events at the 2018 Ledbury Poetry Festival

Festivals Friday, June 22nd

Squeeze, Hot Chip and 12 other awesome events at the 2018 Ledbury Poetry Festival

Ledbury Poetry Festival has a global rep, and understandably so.

Every July, it hosts dozens of readings, performances, workshops, open mics, exhibitions, films, street events, a poetry slam and writing competitions. World-renowned poets take part. There are book launches and premieres, and the whole thing was descibed by FT as 'quieter than Hay [Festival], but perhaps more intense."

Alongside the poets, this year's programme features stand-ups and pop music legends, all tied by their love of the spoken word. Scroll through the full listings here, but these are the 14 events we've got big, red circles around in our programme.



Sabrina Mahfouz and Joelle Taylor @ Royal Hall

Friday June 29 – 9pm

From Saaaaf London by way of Cairo, Mahfouz performs readings about stripclub nosebleeds in a put-on Northern accent at British Council events. Her scripted work has found homes in New York theatres and BBC Three studios. And she is currently working with Cambridge University’s philosophy department to produce poems on consent.

Hers is a voice you’re going to want to listen to – and one that’ll make you laugh enough times that you’ll remember it. Also, the “relaxed Friday night” event specifically notes that there is a bar available, so it should be a good time.

Tickets are £9.50 – get them here.



Squeeze’s Chris Difford @ Community Hall

Wednesday, July 4 – 8.30pm

Sure, Byron and Shakespeare could spin a line. But I’m not sure either of them could get from Davy Crockett to minor STI’s in five verses. Chris Difford did. And while the new-wavy, pop rock masterpiece that is Cool For Cats was the favourite song my Dad ever played me as a kid – even if it took me a few years to appreciate the ‘give a dog a bone’ line – Difford’s whole career with Squeeze was about penning lyrics with heart and humour that painted 70s London better than anyone. 

With Squeeze recently reformed, and off the back of two new albums, Difford sits down with Jill Abram to play a few classics and talk poetry, songwriting and life.

Tickets are £12.50 – get yours here.



Mixtape @ Market Theatre

Monday, July 2 – 8.30pm

“Often time in Black British culture, you don’t see the humanity portrayed on stage or in books. The idea is to take the gumbo of humanity – all our experiences wide and deep; shows we like, music we like, talks with friends – and present you this. So you can feel what we feel. You might not know that we eat fish and chips on a Friday.”

Rising stars Nick Makoha and Roger Robinson rip through monologues, duets and and protest poems all set to a soundtrack of afrobeat, reggae and hip-hop.

Tickets £9 – get yours here.



Desert Island Poems with Miles Jupp @ Community Hall

Monday, July 2 – 8pm

A public schoolboy who somehow found  his way in to stand-up, Jupp has managed to blag his way on to an England tour and professed the simple pleasures of all-day drinking on trains as a press officer on the genius Armando Ianucci show The Thick Of It.

He is also the new(ish) host of Radio 4’s News Quiz and frequently the funniest panellist on the episodes of Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown he appears in.

On the Ledbury stage he shares his favourite poems with he audience, choosing the ones he would take with him to a desert island.

Tickets are £12.50 – get yours here.



Miles Chamber + David Punter @ Burgage Hall

Sunday, July 1 – 7pm

The Bristol Post voted Miles Chambers on of the city’s 50 Coolest People, and on the its 50 Funniest People (the jury’s still out on whether he’s among the 50 Best Looking People or 50 people Most Likely To Help Your Nan Cross The Street).

He’s also a slam champion and Bristol’s first poet laureate. David Punter isn’t, but his verses are equally respected down there in the South West, where he’s the professor of poetry at Bristol University – and where he performs his work with jazz musicians.

Tickets are £9.50 – get yours here.




Sign Language Translation Duel @ Market Theatre

Sunday, July 1 – 1pm

Sign language translators have gained a certain degree of cult status in recent times with some impassioned performances in the corner of TV screens and festivals proving to be more entertaining than the original content.

But how do you go about writing, and writing poetry in sign language? Kyra Pollitt and Su Maclaine dive in to this world of three-dimensional syntax.

Tickets are £9.50 – get yours here.



20 Minutes with Danny Pandolfi @ The Master's House

Sunday, July 1 - 12.15pm

As long as Craft-D (Danny Pandolfi) has picked himself up off the floor after this rap (spoken word) battle, he’ll be in Ledbury to drop some bars and discuss the complex association between traditional poetry and the experimental rhyme schemes of contemporary hip-hop. Fam.

Currently, the resident artist at the world-famous Camden Roundhouse the London MC and spoken word poet is hosting this free, 20-minute talk on how he bridges multiple forms, and how spoken word can challenge societal stereotypes however it’s delivered.  

More information here.



Queer Language @ the Baptist Hall

Sunday July 8 – 3.30pm

Yes, the way this event is titled may make it sound like an Enid Blyton chapter – but actually it’s a really important discussion on LGBTQ poetry, identity and history with John McCullough in conversation with Chloe Garner.

McCullough’s books, Frost Fairs and 2016’s Spacecraft have been lauded by the Guardian, the Observer and the Independent – while his third book, which he is just finishing off, looks at modern day queer life and politics in Brighton.

Tickets are £5 – get yours here.



Jan Wagner + Iain Galbraith @ Burgage Hall

Sunday, July 8 – 3pm

Jan Wagner finds not just the devil, but the delight, in the detail of the everyday and has become arguably the most-respected German language poets of this new generation. The handsome, 46-year-old Berlin resident takes to the stage with Iain Galbraith, who translated Wagner’s Self-Portrait with a Swarm of Bees (and what a title btw).

Tickets are £9.50 – get yours here.



American stars Marie Howe + Jericho Brown @ Burgage Hall

Sunday, July 8 – 11am

“To read Brown’s poems is to encounter devastating genius” – Claudia Rankine.

“[Marie Howe’s poetry] is luminous, intense and eloquent, rooted in an abundant inner life.”

Bloodaxe Books’ editor Neil Astley sits down with two big names from across the pond.

Tickets are £9.50 – get yours here.



A Normal imagination with Henry Normal @ Burgage Hall

Saturday, July 7 -8.30pm

Henry Normal’s surname couldn’t be more fitting for a man that penned one of Britain’s best-loved comedies about a family sitting on a sofa, watching the tele. And the genius co-writer of the Royle Family – and Radio Four regular – is at the festival presenting a “unique brand of poetry, stories and humour”.

He also wrote ‘Nude Modelling for the Afterlife’, a poetry collection whose title would undoubtedly vie with Jan Wagner for the best at the fest.

Tickets are £15 – get yours here.



Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor + James Yorkston @ Hellens Manor

Saturday, July 7 – 4.30pm

Grammy- and Mercury Prize nominated musician Alexis Taylor talks lyric-writing (sure, their best known track opens with “Laid back, Laid back, Laid back we’ll give you play back” – but it also features the line ‘The joy of repetition is really in you”).

He’s joined by writer and folk musician James Yorkston – whose album he recently produced – as the two discuss poetry and other influences before their performance (separate ticket) and the gorgeous Hellens Manor. Bring a picnic if you want to check out both.

Tickets are £5 – get yours here.




Ledbury Poetry Slam @ The Market Theatre

Saturday, July 7 – 8pm

Hosted by Sara-Jane Arbury and Steve Rooney (“ironic and witty observations from the hard shoulder of life’s motorway”), Ledbury’s famed spoken word contest is back for a “knockout night of poetry”.

Random judges award points for style, content and warmth of the ‘applaudience’ – and you can get involved yourself, just email Sara-Jane at sjarbury@gmail.com.

Tickets are £9 – get yours here.



Saint Etienne songwriter Bob Stanley + John Clegg @ Hellens Manor

Saturday, July 7 – 11am

Saint Etienne are probably your favourite band’s favourite band. Formed in Croydon by ex-music journos, their albums listen like a lovenote to three different eras at one time. Kylie Minogue came in to the studio for a session. Tim Burgess took the mic for a swaying, foot-stomper of a disco tune. But the band’s calling card has always been widescreen ballads with the appropriate cinematic song-writing to go with them.

Founder Bob Stanley – who has since written Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop – has a chat with John Clegg about his craft, and the why lyrics in pop music matter.

Tickets are £9.50 – get yours here.

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