This Friday Ledbury, Herefordshire will become home to the world’s largest poetry festival: ten days of all things rhythm, rhyme and verse in the picture book town, nestled deep in the heart of cider country.
The Ledbury festival is taking on the behemoth task of dusting poetry off and resurrecting the underappreciated art form – at best forgotten along with GCSE English and Shakespearean sonnets, at worst openly scorned – and re-inventing it for the modern palate.
If you are someone who just doesn’t get poetry, you are not alone. And many may contend – like DeadCurious’ Jules Shand – that it no longer has a place among the burgeoning number of art forms more readily digested by today’s masses.
That’s not to say that it is dead. Spoken word nights like Jawdance, poetry slams and the influence of verse on hip-hop are clues that it’s still there, just lurking in the shadows of channels such as film, television and social media. Although, as Ledbury will undoubtedly prove, there is a place for poems in all three of the aforementioned media.
One of the many reasons why people may be scared off poetry is that they don’t know what to think after reading or hearing a poem. They get put off if they don’t have an essay up their sleeve afterwards. But as a poet, all I want people to do when they read or hear my work is feel something and find something to relate to in it. The beauty of poetry is expressing so much in so few words – there is nothing to understand, only to enjoy. And this is something Ledbury festival evidently feels the same way about.
Between 5th-14th July, and for as little as £5, word lovers and haters alike will be treated to an exciting line up of talks, readings, performances, theatre, poetry slams and celebrity appearances which will inspire even the most word-averse to wish they could remember what iambic pentameter was.
Woven into the impressive program of readings are food markets, bike rides, poetry massages, pottery classes, fairytale rap workshops and even a chance to listen to verse while submerged under water – experience and inspiration enough to kick start your own anthology.
Liz Lochead, Kate Tempest, Adrian Andrew Dun, Benjamin Zephaniah and Juliet Stephenson reading Sylvia Plath are just a few names there to be dropped. For the full ten day program, click here and see how something supposedly stuffy won’t be for much longer.
To get you in the mood, check out this jaw-dropping, soul-stopping, heart-popping poem by Gemineye. If this doesn’t convert you, perhaps a trip up to Hereforshire will.