Nottingham Poetry Festival returns with canal narrowboat performances, ‘poetry takeaway van’ and national stars

Writer and festival co-founder Henry Normal is going on a tour of city libraries as part of the event.

Poetry served up from a Sneinton takeaway van and performances on a canal narrowboat will feature when Nottingham Poetry Festival returns to the city next month.

The event is back at venues across Nottingham from from Friday May 6 to Sunday May 15, after a two year break from in-person performances during the pandemic.

Author and poet Michael Rosen, TS Eliot prizewinner Joelle Taylor, modern British poet Roger McGough and the current poet laureate Simon Armitage with his band LYR are among the headliners.

Rosen will be making one of his first public appearances following his 48 days spent in intensive care with Covid in 2020.

The former children’s laureate will be sharing his poems ‘for the child in all of us’ at Metronome on Huntingdon Street on May 12.

Author Michael Rosen is making one of his first public appearances since recovering from a serious case of Covid-19.

Festival founder Henry Normal began his career as a stand-up poet and went on to become a co-writer of award-winning TV and film.

He will go on a tour of Nottingham City Libraries from Aspley and Bulwell to St Anns and Strelley to deliver a Poetry Hour along with a different guest poet at each location.

Nottingham-born Normal is known for writing hits including The Royle Family, The Mrs Merton Show and Coogan’s Run, and producing Gavin and Stacey, Alan Partridge and the Oscar-nominated film Philomena.

He said: “It’s so brilliant to see Nottingham Poetry Festival grow into one of the very best in the country. The community engagement, the energy, the breadth of quality and innovation now rivals any poetry festival in the UK.

“I’m delighted to be performing free shows at the city’s libraries and hope friends old and new will come along and say hello and bring along a poem themselves.”

He will also be bringing an evening of ‘pure escape’ with stories, jokes and work featuring favourite poems from his BBC Radio 4 series and his seven poetry collections, at Lakeside, on May 12.

Other new events include ‘Words on Water’ on a narrowboat along Nottingham Canal on May 6 and the Poetry Takeaway in Sneinton Market on May 7 featuring personalised poetry for visitors, performed and wrapped to takeaway.

The festival is supported by Nottingham’s Confetti Media Group, and was co-founded by its chief executive, Craig Chettle MBE.

He said: “It’s a real highlight in Nottingham’s cultural calendar and we’re committed to continuing our support. We’re particularly looking forward to welcoming a number of poets and exciting events to Metronome and Antenna.”

“Confetti and our team of technical experts will once again deliver the live streaming of events, allowing for a far wider audience reach, providing local poets with a greater platform to showcase their work.”

The festival is returning to venues across the city following a two-year break in in-person performances.

Launched in April 2015, the Festival has become an integral part of Nottingham culture, attracting audiences from all over the country.

Previous festival line-ups have included Carol Ann Duffy, Luke Wright, John Cooper Clarke, John Hegley and Roger McGough together with many local poets.

Festival director Anne Holloway said: “We are all poets. A poem isn’t a certain number of words or lines or stanzas. A poem is a moment noticed, sometimes shared. Some of us use words, some of us use images, music or song, paint or chalk or food, or a mobile phone, or kicking a ball, or swimming, or smiling at someone on the street.

“It’s all about connecting. For some people a poem might be getting out of bed and letting their feet connect with the floor. You don’t have to be a poet to enjoy poetry so come along and get involved.”

Fresh from winning the TS Eliot poetry prize for C+nto & Othered Poems exploring butch lesbian counterculture, Joelle Taylor will be performing at The Old Cold Store on May 13 and sees her book as a “bridge” that can bring a fractured community back together.

Other highlights include Midlands Mix Up, which will see poets from Nottingham, Derby and Birmingham swapping places to showcase their own poetry and nominate a ‘Poet to Watch’ from their hometown to perform alongside them.

Casey Bailey, a rapper-poet who wrote The Ballad of Peaky Blinders for the hit BBC series will be representing Birmingham.

Poets off the Endz, a poetry and spoken word platform born from a YouTube series of the same name curated by Nottingham artist Jah Digga, will present a night of spoken word, poetry and live music.

City brewery Castle Rock is again sponsoring the festival and is offering its pubs as hubs where people can connect through poetry.

Liv Auckland, head of brand and communications at the brewery, said: “We hope this year’s festival provides a platform for Nottingham’s poets to share the words we all need to hear after the past few years.

“For Castle Rock, it’s become more important than ever to work with our communities and seize opportunities for collaboration, and use our pubs as spaces for people to connect. It is set to be the best festival yet and we can’t wait to see what comes from it.”

The full line-up and tickets are available from:

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