And the Worcestershire Poet Laureate shortlist is…


Every year our chosen judges work tirelessly towards choosing a new Poet Laureate for the county of Worcestershire and this year is certainly no exception. Seasoned judges Steve Wilson and Polly Stretton are joined by Nina Lewis, the current Worcestershire Poet Laureate, and Rachel Evans, the current Young Poet Laureate for Worcestershire, to make their decision on who is next in line to represent the literary community of Worcestershire and after much deliberation they have narrowed their options down to a final three…

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Our three finalists for this year’s competition are:

Peter Sutton

Sarah Leavesley

Betti Moretti

A huge congratulations to our three finalists, and commiserations and deep gratitude to everyone else who entered. We were delighted to see the wonderful entries that stacked up this year and we hope that those who entered alongside the three finalists will consider entering again in the future.

Peter, Sarah, and Betti will be performing their themed poem alongside one personal poem at the launch of this year’s festival on June 10th, at The Angel Centre, Worcester, after which we will discover who will be crowned WPL for 2018/2019.

For more information on this event, and many others that we are hosting throughout the festival week, please do have a peek at our programme which you can access by clicking here.

‘I am John Clare’ – A revealing and outstanding performance!

In a collaborative event between Worcestershire LitFest and Fringe and Evesham Festival of Words, the peasant poet John Clare was revived for one night only in the Almonry Museum, Evesham, last Thursday.

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Written by Stephen Loveless and performed on the stage by Robin Hillman, the evening promised to be a feast of poetic brilliance and historical wonder.

Now Worcestershire LitFest and Fringe Committee Member, Daniel Burton, shares his thoughts with us on what was undoubtedly an informative and emotional evening.

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8th March 1860. John Clare, peasant poet and the son of a farm labourer, has been committed to the General Lunatic Asylum in Northampton after years of ‘poetic prosing’, confused and unsure about his identity.

3rd May 2018. Robin Hillman brings Clare back to life for a 21st century audience with a thought-provoking performance as the peasant poet himself. Evesham’s Almonry Museum provided the perfect stage to welcome Clare to modern-day England, surrounded by historical artefacts in a beautiful venue.

Delivering his performance with passion, Hillman enabled the audience to gain an insight into the mind of one of the 19th century’s most important and influential poets. He effortlessly switched from exuberance to humility and you really got the sense that you were having a conversation with Clare as a result of Hillman’s performance. You could say it was like having Clare in the room with you!

Anyone unfamiliar with Clare’s poetry was treated to a fantastic lesson! Hillman blended in Clare’s poetic inspirations, namely nature and birds, with the poet’s sense of confusion using imagery and his delivery. He also captured the essence of the difficulties that Clare would have endured throughout his life and career.

Balancing the need to write poetry and the need to make money for his family took its toll on Clare. He had difficulties with his mental health and even claimed himself to be Lord Byron and Shakespeare on several occasions, according to historical records. Hillman portrayed this emotional turmoil with great confidence – every member of the audience felt a strong, deep connection with him and, importantly, with Clare and his situation.

Hillman’s performance was made possible by the research and incredible writing of award-winning writer Stephen Loveless. During a Q&A session after his performance, Hillman revealed that even though the script for ‘I am John Clare’ was written fairly quickly, it was only after the weeks and weeks of intense research Loveless carried out beforehand. This attention to detail and facts, Hillman also revealed, was how he was able to get into Clare’s mind and put on such a great performance.

Opening with Hillman/Clare playing the fiddle whilst making his entrance, ‘I am John Clare’ took place surrounded by an array of historical artefacts and instruments. The location took the audience to the days of Clare, almost putting them ‘into’ the scene themselves, as though they were meeting Clare in person back in 19th century England.

With a charismatic and talented performance by Robin Hillman and the perfect location in the Almonry Museum, ‘I am John Clare’ was educational and emotional all rolled into one fantastic evening. It was a pleasure to attend the event and learn about the struggles and personality of one of England’s poetic geniuses.

Review written by Daniel Burton.

I am John Clare – A collaboration between Worcestershire LitFest and Evesham Festival of Words!

The Worcestershire LitFest and Fringe team are delighted to have teamed up with Evesham Festival of Words for a collaborative event; a one-night-only performance of the marvellous I am John Clare! To be hosted at the Almonry Museum in Evesham on Thursday, May 3rd, this evening of poetical ‘madness’ promises to be a night to remember!

After years of being addicted to ‘poetical prosing’, John Clare, known as the peasant poet, found himself committed to Northampton General Lunatic Asylum in the closing weeks of 1841. We join him there on the night of 8th March 1860.

Subtitled ‘One night with a poet in a madhouse’, the Almonry provides the perfect setting for this one-man play, written by award-winning writer, Stephen Loveless, and performed by actor, fiddle-player and singer, Robin Hillman. The play will be followed by a Q&A session.

Tickets are £6 and this grants you entry to the event plus a glass of wine, and you can buy them online now just by clicking here (although tickets will also be available on the door on the night of the performance itself).

We’re tremendously excited for this event and we’d love it our friends and patrons could come along in support of the evening as well. See you there!

The Countdown is on for our 2018 Competitions!

We are delighted by how many entries we have received for our 2018 competitions so far, but we’re here to give you a gentle reminder that if you’re thinking of entering yourself then it’s time to get your skates on.

Our Young Writer Competition is open until Friday, April 27th (this Friday!) and the details on how to enter can be found just by clicking here.

Our hunt for the new Worcestershire Poet Laureate will also come to an end this Friday (April 27th) but we’re still accepting entries throughout this week, so if you fancy yourself a WPL type then get involved by clicking here.

Last but by no means least, our wonderful Flash Fiction Competition will also draw to a close this Friday but we are accepting entries up until midnight Friday evening so if you’ve got some fabulous flashes stashed away somewhere, have a peek just here to see how you can submit them.

We’ve had some wonderful submissions so far but we’d like even more before we shut our doors completely! Spread the word and get involved – and maybe you’ll even feel moved to send something in yourself…

World Poetry Day – now we’ve fully recovered!


Worcestershire Poet Laureate Nina Lewis cooked up an absolute storm for the Worcestershire writing community last Wednesday to honour World Poetry Day.

A room packed full of some of the best poetic and literary talent that Worcestershire has to offer, including a host of Poet Laureates, past and present too! Nina filled our hearts and minds – and has no doubt helped to fill a few notebooks as well.

Now we’re fully recovered from all of the excitement – between World Poetry Day and Earth Hour, it was quite a week – we’d like to thank the wonderful Nina Lewis, and everyone else who came along to support her, for such a memorable World Poetry Day celebration.

For a full run down of the evening’s events, you can have a peek at Nina’s own blog too, available here.

Worcestershire Poet Laureate needs YOU and your inspirational women!


Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Nina Lewis, is looking to mark International Women’s Day (March 8th) with a special kind of celebration this year. She’s put out an open call not for poetry, but for inspirational ladies in all forms! Nina is looking for submissions of the following:

  • A poem/poet to read.
  • Female inspirations – and why they inspire you! 
  • Influential women who got you into writing or supported this path for you (personal rather than famous.)
  • Something you have grown wise to in womanhood (that you may have wished you’d known sooner).

So if you have wise words – or indeed, wise women – that you want the world to know about then now is your time to share them! All submissions should be sent to with the subject heading IWD. Submissions MUST be sent before March 6th, as Nina will need time to read submissions and compile them before the day itself. It’s also worth noting that you can submit anonymously – as long as you make this wish clear in your email.

For a closer look at Nina’s plan you can have a peek at her personal blog by clicking here.

Nina’s WPL blog – December to February

Well here we are, I have just a quarter of my term left as Laureate – where did that time go? Here’s my review of December to February in case you have somehow missed everything!

PS: Don’t miss World Poetry Day 21st March 7 PM start at Café Bliss.


Submissions for Contour – the Worcestershire Poet Laureate Poetry Magazine – opened. This time the theme was Love as I was editing for February release.

A Tale of Two Cities, my Transatlantic poetry project, was launched with 46 poets from the USA and UK. All the poets were partnered up and our ‘Call’ poems were shared.

My poem from the Hanbury Hall Poets project went on display at an Exhibition at the Maltstones in Cutnall Green, with thanks to Stephen Evans for this.


I was a Guest Poet along with Kevin Brooke and Holly Magill at Suz Winspear’s Book Launch, ‘The Awkward People’, her WPL collection was published by Black Pear Press. It was a wonderful event and I have now read the full collection. If you haven’t bought a copy I urge you to do so, you will not regret it! It’s available here.

I shared poetry with Tammy Gooding on BBC Radio Hereford & Worcester.

Poets involved in AToTC started working on ‘Response’ poems with their partners. I became an expert on Salmon!

I started planning World Poetry Day (my official event from WPL remit). It is going to be a lot of fun. I devised the creative elements and booked some of the performers for the evening.

I started preparing school workshops (booked for March) and had some face to face meetings. I am very excited to get back into schools in this role and this is definitely something I want to pursue in the future.


I planned a Suffragette Workshop to coincide with the exhibition at The Hive. The workshop took place on February 10th. There were 12 participants on the day and several additional poets online. Work submitted from this event will appear in an anthology published on the website in April.

I continued editorial work on ATOTC, the deadline for ‘Response’ poems came and went; I am now in proofing stages and the Special Edition Contour is due for release in April.

The 2nd Issue Contour Love was published on the 12th February. This issue is nearly twice the size of the last one and includes interviews with SpeakEasy Featured Artists as well as PL News and of course, poetry. There were over 600 readers in 24 hours of release!

All the poets have now been confirmed for World Poetry Day.

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Haiku Raffle tickets have been produced and an open submission call is still currently open (deadline 10th March) for Little Poems, these will be used as part of the Poetry Take Away at the end of the evening and can be previously published. For more details click here.

I had my BBC Hereford & Worcester Radio Interview with Tammy Gooding and this month it was a slightly extended recording due to us discussing love poetry and the work of Pablo Neruda! It was fun and I shared the love poem recently published in Contour.

I met with Carolyn Baldwin at the Jinney Ring to finalise our plans for an exhibition of poetry produced in my Sculpture Trail Poetry Workshop back in September. I am delighted to announce our work will be on display in the restaurant for the whole of April. So treat yourself to tea, cake and poetry!

Promoting the Poet Laureate competition is something I have been involved in for the past month or so, it is really painful because it makes me feel like this is over, when in reality I am just ¾ of the way through my term. I look forward to discovering who the next WPL will be though.

Jess Charles at Worcester News asked me for some words about it and used my copy to produce an article, which you can read here. If you are thinking of entering the competition, you have until 30th March. Do it!

Other Work


At the end of November I was invited to be an International Guest Poet at Perth Poetry Festival, I spent a lot of December researching Grant opportunities and jumping around in a very excited manner!

WMRN Reader in Residence at Rugby Library. I had fun compiling a 12 month Reading Challenge List for 2018.

Interview for Brum Radio Poets with Rick Sanders, including readings from Fragile Houses, V. Press.

Came 2nd in the Haiku Poetry Slam at Grizzly Pear (Birmingham) and won workshop tickets for Verve Poetry Festival.

V. Press were nominated for the Michael Marks Publishers’ Award. The pamphlets that V. Press had in for this year are: Alex Reed’s A Career in Accompaniment, Nina Lewis’ Fragile Houses, David Clarke’s Scare Stories and Stephen Daniels’ Tell Mistakes I Love Them.


I performed poems in Songs of Apollo – Poetry is Life: Colour, Light & Shade, devised by Cordula Kempe. A night of poetry and music at Kempe Studio, Stratford-upon-Avon, with RSC & NT actors and Angela France.

I performed at the Wolverhampton Literature Festival as part of the WoLF Collective, sharing poems from Fragile Houses.


WMRN Rugby Library Writing a Book Review Workshop, Reader in Residence.

Verve Poetry Festival (15-18th) Birmingham Waterstones, I was the official blogger this year and my reviews can be read just here.

Stay tuned for my next update in the coming months and, if you don’t want to wait that long to see what I’ve been up to, you can always have a look at my WPL blog!