A poetry smorgasbord at the 2018 Hay Festival

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Nestling gently on the English/Welsh border, the 31st  Hay Festival takes place this year from 24th May to 3rd June in the small and beautiful historic town of Hay-on-Wye, a place also famous for being one of the second-hand bookshop capitals of the world.

Featuring over 600 of the world’s greatest writers, global policy makers, pioneers and innovators in 800 events across 11 days, the festival showcases the latest ideas in the arts, sciences and current affairs, alongside a rich schedule of music, comedy and entertainment for all ages. This year also sees a big rise in the number of poetry events at the festival, and under the theme of “poetry & wordplay – rhythms and remembrance” to mark Armistice 100, Hay Festival has commissioned writers from around the world to respond to their country’s Great War poems with poetry of their own; Margaret Atwood, Tishani Doshi, Owen Sheers and Mererid Hopwood read theirs in a joint one-off event.

A galaxy of literary stars gather to launch new work, while the biggest ever HAYDAYS and #HAYYA programmes give young readers the opportunity to meet their heroes and get creative. Peter Florence, director of Hay Festival, said: “We are facing alarming insecurities and crises. We need to approach the complexity of those challenges with all the hope and courage we can muster. We need to hear the wisest voices, not the loudest. And we need the gift that novelists and poets give – the ability to imagine the world from someone else’s point of view. There has never been a time when we were in such urgent need of empathy. It’s a time for serious thought and serious work, and so too, it’s a time to laugh and a time to dance and a time to feast. Let’s do it together.”

Other poetry highlights include new collection launches by Yrsa Daley-Ward, Wendy Cope, Don Paterson, Janice Pariat and Tishani Doshi, and Simon Armitage delivers the Oxford Poetry Lecture.  Robert Minhinnick and Eamon Bourke present their collaboration Diary of the Last Man, while Benjamin Zephaniah presents his memoir The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah.  Alan Llwyd, Mererid Hopwood and Aled Eirug discuss Marwolaeth Heddwch (The Death of Peace); and Allie Esiri offers A Poem for Every Day of the Year. Leading linguists play with words – Rob Penhallurick looks at why dialects fascinate us so much; David Crystal presents An Alphabet; and Wendy Ayres-Bennett debates the menace of monolingualism.

WriteOutLoud will be at the festival to attend many of these fabulous events and to review the experience.  Why not come along and join us?  The Festival site is free to enter, with ticketed events in 10 tented venues, plus a range of sites to explore, including the Festival Bookshop; the HAYDAYS courtyard; the Hay Festival Wild Garden; creative workshops in the Make and Take Tent, the Scribblers Hut, The Cube and the Mess Tent; and market stalls, cafés and restaurants.


◄ Elvis McGonagall and Susan Evans at literary festival in Woking

Sandeep Parmar and BAME poetry critics ►


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