World Poetry Day 2020 – An international celebration

It’s part of the Worcestershire Poet Laureate remit that I (Charley Barnes, that is) arrange for an event for World Poetry Day, which takes place on March 21 this year. It’s a lovely job to be given and a wonderful thing to celebrate. However, it’s also my job to know (and respect) other events that are happening around the county at any given time, and I happen to know that there’s a poetry event nearly every week for March already (because we’re such a lucky county).

March 12 – Worcester SpeakEasy, Paradiddles Bar

March 19 – Dear Listener, Boston Tea Party

March 28 – Earth Hour, Worcester Arts Workshop

March 31 – 42, Drummonds Bar

So, to celebrate World Poetry Day, I thought we’d try something a little different…

I’m opening up a new inbox to accept submissions of translated works of poetry. These must be works that have been officially translated and published as such – rather than something you have translated yourself – or they must be English works written by a non-native author. To make sure we’re as respectful as possible to these original works, I’ll be citing the full collections, pamphlets or alternative publications where these poems are available in hard print, so any information that people can provide along with their submissions would be greatly appreciated it.

So, how is this going to work?

  1. Submit a poem of your choosing to:
  2. You can either send a typed copy of the poem or a clear picture of the poem, taken from a hard copy
  3. Remember, any referential information you can provide about the poem will be hugely appreciated (where it was originally published, for example, and the original author/translator of the work)
  4. You’ll receive a thank you email for participating in the project
  5. The poem will be published to the LitFest website!

It’s that simple (I hope). It’s my intention that we use this as a celebration of world poetry, rather than poetry that many of us will likely already be familiar with. I’m hoping that in the lead-up to World Poetry Day, I can keep a steady stream of poetry being intermittently published to this website to document some of our favourites, and maybe give us a few more favourites along the way too.

This isn’t just limited to residents of the Worcestershire county either. People from the whole world over – oh, how lovely that would be – are also welcome to submit poems of their choosing too. So, if you’d be so kind, please help me to spread this far and wide to keep a rolling release of poetry going through to World Poetry Day!

If anyone has any questions about the project, please do email me directly at

Warm wishes,

Charley xx

Hard times happen – Competition open!

At Worcestershire LitFest and Fringe we pride ourselves on being strong advocates for mental health charities, support systems and organisations. To further this support, we’re delighted to announce that for the next couple of months we will be opening our doors to writing around this theme, in the form of our new writing competition: Hard times happen (and it’s okay to talk about them).

In partnership with Time To Change (Worcester), we are welcoming entries of poetry or short prose written to the ‘hard times happen’ theme. However, before you click out and think this one isn’t for you, let us clarify a couple of things:

  1. You do not have to live in a Worcestershire postcode to enter this competition. It’s available worldwide over and we’re delighted to see entries from around the nation, or the globe if we’re especially lucky.
  2. You do not have to suffer from a mental health condition to enter this competition. At Worcestershire LitFest we know as well as anyone that hard times can and do indeed happen, whether you have a formal diagnosis of a condition or not. So this is a poetry competition for life’s difficulties and our freedom to discuss those difficulties with others.

Entry to this competition is entirely free and we will be accepting entries until midnight on April 30th. When the competition closes our esteemed judges – Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Dr Charley Barnes, and Worcestershire LitFest and Fringe Director, Martin Driscoll – will read through the entries to determine which pieces will be placed in the winning anthology, which will be produced at the end of this process.

We’re currently planning a formal anthology launch, where competition entrants are welcome to come and read their work, and priced copies of the anthology will be available here too. At the moment we’re looking to arrange this event for some time in June 2020, but we will be able to confirm a specific date a little closer to the time.

So, everything you need to know in bite-size chunks:

  1. You do not need to live in Worcestershire, nor do you need to have a mental health condition, to enter this competition.
  2. Entry is entirely free.
  3. We are accepting entries until April 30th.
  4. We are accepting submissions of poetry and short prose (poetry should be no more than 40 lines and prose should be no longer than approximately one typed A4 page).
  5. All entries should be emailed to
  6. When you email your submission please ensure that the subject line reads: ‘Hard times happen competition entry’. We are running multiple competitions at the moment and we wouldn’t want anyone’s entry to become lost in among other competitions.

If you have any questions about the competition or the finer details of it then you are welcome to log your queries at the email address, or you can contact Worcestershire LitFest and Fringe through one of our various social media channels.

We look forward to reading your entries!

Competition: Truth and Confession – OPEN!

And the Truths and Confessions competition is OPEN!

A few reminders:

  • Entries for the competition are £2 per poem
  • There is no limit on how many entries any one poet submits
  • Poems should not be longer than 40 lines in length
  • ALL entries will be anonymised before being shared with anyone
  • The competition will close on September 2nd, at midnight
  • Competition results will be announced in the week of September 16th
  • ALL proceeds from the competition will go towards printing a pamphlet of longlisted poems
  • The big finale of this event will take place in celebration of National Poetry Day, the day after, on October 4th at The Hive

ALL entries must be emailed to!

ALL entries must be paid for by using the following our PayPal link:

Competition: Truth and Confession

Roll up, roll up! It’s time for a competition.

The theme for National Poetry Day (October 3rd) is Truth. In a radical interpretation of theme, Charley Barnes, Worcestershire Poet Laureate, is launching a competition on the theme of Truth and Confessions.

This is a competition for all of the home truths, the harsh realities, and the things you won’t own up to – but with a twist.

Every single entry of this competition is to be anonymised. Charley acknowledges that people will be emailing their submissions, so things won’t be completely anonymous. That said, Charley will never part with the names of the poets and she will be judging this competition alone, so identities won’t be shared beyond the initial submission email.

So, here’s how to get involved:

  1. Get your home truths and confessions at the ready
  2. Ping them over to our competition email (which we’ll reveal later this week)
  3. Await the results

There a few aims for this competition overall. Firstly, entries for the competition will be £2 per poem but there’s no limit on how many poems any one person can submit. The reason that entries are £2 is because at the end of this experience, Charley would like to publish the longlisted poems as a small pamphlet, titled Anon. This will be a collection of the finest poems from the competition round-up and, even when they hit the printing press, we still won’t give your names away!

How does this tie in to National Poetry Day? Well, on the day itself Charley will arrange for an exhibition of longlisted poems to be displayed at The Hive, Worcester. There will also be readings of the poems taking place too. When longlisted poets are notified of their achievement, they will be invited along to read at the blessed event – providing they don’t mind their identities being shared. If, however, people would like to remain anonymous, then we can arrange for someone to read your poem on your behalf.

We’ve got a little bit of everything covered with this one!

The timeline for these events are:

  • August 2nd, competition opens
  • Midnight on September 2nd, competition closes
  • During the week of September 16th, longlisted poets will be notified
  • October 3rd, we celebrate!

So standby for the official competition launch on August 2nd (just a few days to wait).

Worcestershire LitFest and Fringe welcomes a new Director!

16 PHOTO CREDIT Rhys Jones

At Worcestershire LitFest and Fringe we are always keen to recognise talent and to give credit where it is deserved.  After a stellar year as Worcestershire Poet Laureate, including projects that stretched all the way to the US, we are delighted to announce that Nina Lewis will now be joining the LitFest team in a more official capacity — as our new Director!

Nina will be joining the team, effective immediately, and she’s bringing fresh ideas and enthusiasm to this role by the bucket-load, so stay tuned for some exciting developments in the coming weeks and months.

In the meantime though, if you could join us all in giving Nina a very warm welcome aboard then we’d be very grateful. We can’t wait to see what she’s got planned!


The Great NHS Sell Off – A Worcester LitFest Special!

The great NHS $ELL OFF film poster

On July 14th, as a one-off special event, Worcestershire LitFest and Fringe will be setting up camp at The Hive, Worcester City Centre, for an evening dedicated to talk of our great NHS healthcare system.

The evening will consist of talks from those in the know, detailing how the healthcare system has worked to date while also discussing some of the challenges it is likely to face off in the future.

If you’d like further information about the event itself then LitFest and Fringe Director Martin Driscoll will be only too happy to answer any queries that you may have, just drop him an email at

If you’d like to purchase a ticket for the evening they are £5 (£3 for concessions which include NHS staff, students, and the unwaged) and they can be purchased via PayPal or on the door of the event on the night itself.

Ticket x1: btn_buynowCC_LG

We hope to see many of you in attendance for this informative and worthwhile event!

Please note: At this time we are only able to make the standard £5 ticket available via PayPal. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. To make arrangements for concession tickets please email either or Thank you.


The morning after the finale before – From LitFest with Love


What a festival week it’s been! We started off with our launch on Sunday, June 10th, where one Worcestershire Poet Laureate was thanked and praised, and another Worcestershire Poet Laureate was crowned and welcomed. Nina Lewis has been a credit to this county’s literary scene and we are, as an entire team, delighted to have worked with her over the last twelve months. However, we are equally delighted to be welcoming Betti Moretti into the laureate role, and we cannot wait to see what her twelve months in the post will bring.

From the launch we moved through Worcester Writers’ Circle’s annual showcase, Suz Winspear’s Night at the Museum, and then we cruised into the firm favourites of 42, SpeakEasy, and the festival quiz, bringing everything to a head on Saturday, June 16th, with our double whammy slam (another congratulations to Kevin Brooke and Io Osborn who bagged the flash fiction slam champ and poetry slam champ titles respectively).

Now it’s all over and we can, as a team, breathe a sigh of relief, it seems only right that we extend our love and gratitude to the unofficial committee members of LitFest – which is, of course, the audience members who turn up to event after event, year after year, to support us.

You were there so you know exactly how our 2018 festival went down, and we just want to take a moment to thank you for it. Thanks to every judge, every performer, everyone who has emailed, telephoned, rallied around and supported in one way or another. It has been an absolute blast and you will never know just how sincere we’re being when we say that we really couldn’t have done it without you all.

We’ll all go into hiding for a bit now to recover – until the July SpeakEasy, that is – but know that we are both knackered and exceptionally grateful, and we think you’re all flippin’ lovely! We’ll be back with a bang next year —

From LitFest, with love xxx