On your bikes: pedalling poets to tour South Downs during new festival
A new poetry festival featuring a poetry bike tour and events at venues over the length and breadth of a national park in Sussex and Hampshire will be launched this summer. The first South Downs poetry festival will include events in Lewes, Ditchling, West Dean, Midhurst, and Petersfield, and a four-day poetry bike tour that sets off in Eastbourne and finishes on the downs in Hampshire. Poets lined up already include Andrew McMillan, Jonathan Edwards, Attila the Stockbroker, Penelope Shuttle, John Greening, and Maggie Sawkins, with workshops, discussion panels, moonlit walks, and music, as well as readings. The festival’s director is Tim Dawes, who founded and directed Havant literary festival.
The poetry bike tour, initiated and charted by performance poet Dave Allen, will begin when the cyclists meet their support team and van at Eastbourne rail station at 1pm on Tuesday 19 July. The group will pedal up onto the Downs for a first gig at the Beachy Head hotel and then ride on to the village of Alfriston, and a second gig at All About Books before an evening event at Firle. Wednesday will include appearances at the Needlemaker’s cafe in Lewes, and Steyning bookshop. Thursday will include poetry stops in Pulborough, Petworth, and Fittleworth, and more poetry at Midhurst and South Harting. On Friday 22 July, the final day of the tour will include performances at Queen Elizabeth country park in Hampshire, further stops in East and West Meon before arriving high on the Hampshire Downs at the main festival event at the Sustainability Centre.
The festival begins on 16 July and ends on 24 July after a weekend of events at the Sustainability Centre, between Petersfield and Winchester. More details
PHOTOGRAPH: ALI BISHOP