I felt honoured last year to be invited by Covenor Judy Ugonna, MBE to join the planning team for this year’s inaugural Wirral Poetry Festival last weekend, 10-12 May. It was a huge success! The vision and determination of my fellow team members to deliver a festival that would encourage enjoyment of a wide variety of poetry and the spoken word paid off handsomely, as did our efforts to make the majority of events free to attend.
Prior to the festival, there were two very well-attended poetry picnic workshops at Leasowe Lighthouse (31 Mar) led by Kemal Houghton and Mersey Ferries (28 Apr), led by Paul Harris and myself.
The festival opened in great style with a sell-out Roger McGough and LiTTLe MACHiNe show at Westbourne Hall, West Kirby. A truly memorable performance by a legend of poetry and someone who has always influenced my own writing.
The events of Saturday 11 May were held in the wonderfully historic setting of Birkenhead Town Hall. In the morning, performers of all ages delivered a variety show which aimed to appeal to younger people and adults alike. It was another bold undertaking and yet another great success. In the afternoon, there were a series of six terrific readings by well-established poets from this country and Ireland. The day also featured a poetry publishers’ exhibition featuring eight small presses from around the UK. This was the event I organised and hosted and included lunch-time readings by a poet from each press.
On Sunday at West Kirby Arts Centre, there were a series of events reflecting the theme of this year’s festival – namely water and light. These included Stargazing, involving a combination of poetry and music, the Water and Light event featuring poem by poets who attended our poetry picnic workshops, readings by poets published in The Quality of Mersey anthology and, last but not least, a hugely well-received poetry slam called ‘Slam And Deliver’.
All-in-all, it was a wonderful few days. The events were well-attended and the feedback so far has been excellent and plans are already underway for next year’s poetry festival. Massive thanks to everyone who came along to support the very first Wirral Poetry Festival!